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Boston Hopes to Slow an Elusive Tampa Bay Attack

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- Last year’s Eastern Conference Finals between the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning,  , who meet again tonight at the TD Garden, came down to the wire. As such, Boston (and the rest of the NHL) know when Tampa comes to town they should expect to play a fast-paced game.

St. Louis vs. Bergeron
Milan Lucic, whose line scored the lone goal in Game 7 of the Conference Finals last year, is familiar with the Lightning's capabilities.

“They are a fast team that makes a lot of quick plays. They’re a team that you really have to limit your mistakes against because as soon as you make a mistake — boom — they’re down the other way and it could be in the back of the net,” said Lucic.

During Friday’s practice the team worked on set-plays and transitioning to stop Tampa’s incredibly successful 1-3-1 formation.

“If you leave a guy by himself it tends to be a 1-on-3 situation, so you need numbers supporting the puck,” explained Lucic.

“It’s going to be a real hard-fought game for us if we want to win tonight,” added the left wing.

The Bruins took steps in practice to get their positioning down. If the B’s lose composure, the Bolts will find their dynamic players like Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis open with scoring opportunities.

Playing on a line together, the Lightning duo lit up the stat sheets last season. St. Louis registered a point total of 31-68-99 which ranked 2nd in the league behind Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin. Stamkos, who was the NHL’s 2008 first overall draft pick, followed close behind (5th) with a scoring tally of 45-46-91.

Stamkos and St. Louis each had two points last night as the Lightning took down the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 in their season opener in Raleigh. 

Although the two all-stars led the Bolts in scoring last year, Head Coach Claude Julien knows his team can’t forget about other players like captain Vincent Lecavalier and the rest of their high-powered offense.

“There’s a couple stars, there’s some lines that are obviously producing and if you look at last night’s results they still scored five goals and it was spread throughout the line up, so I don’t think that there’s one particular unit that you have to watch more than another,” explained Julien.

“I still remember them coming against (us) in the playoffs with their third line being the line that was producing a lot, so you have to be careful where you put all your focus on.”

With new additions Joe Corvo and Matt Bartkowski, and five returning blue-liners, Julien is confident in the B’s defensive game.

“We’ve got a lot of guys back there that we are trusting more and more over the years and guys getting some more experience,” added Julien.

“McQuaid is one of those guys and hopefully he’s good to go tonight. (Johnny) Boychuk is now entering his third full season so everybody’s kind of getting more experience.

“Even if a lot of those faces are the same faces, they’re better players.”

The Bruins D looks to shut down Tampa’s elusive offensive as the Lightning look for revenge against the Black & Gold. Daniel Paille hopes he can contribute to the team’s defensive effort by stepping up the intensity and not allowing the Lightning time to form plays.

“They’re going to be on us as quickly or faster than (Philadelphia), so we definitely want to be more aware of that tonight.

“They’ve got a lot of offensive power up front, so we’ve just got to be aware of who’s on the ice and make sure we just maintain pressure,” explained the B’s wing.

The Bruins look to even their record to 1-1 after falling to the Flyers in the season opener.

“I think we can bounce back tonight with a huge effort,” said Paille.

---John Griffin
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