BostonBruins.com - The last time the Bruins and Lightning faced off against each other, just eight days ago, the B's jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and left Tampa Bay with the 4-2 win.
In the 75 previous times these two Eastern Conference clubs have met, Boston owns a 46-20-9-0 record, and is 7-1-0 in the last eight home games at TD Garden versus the Bolts.
Donning their third jerseys today for a 1:00 p.m. matinee, the B's have been riding a five-game winning streak, most recently sneaking past the Ottawa Senators with a 2-1 overtime win. Though they haven't necessarily been playing their best hockey - and will be the first to point out improvements that need to be made heading into today's game.
"I think we got to to get a little bit more speed, a couple battles along the walls - I think overall we've done fairly well from the last few games," B's forward Daniel Paille said following Friday's optional practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. "Obviously, there is room for improvement."
"It didn't seem like we were moving our legs too well and I think a team like Tampa, we're going to have to."
"There’s a whole lot," said Dennis Seidenberg, on the tweaks the Black & Gold can make to their game, moving into the compact stretch of a back-to-back and three games in four days.
"You can look at every aspect of our game we can improve, but we looked at offensive play today," the defenseman added, on the focus during Friday's optional/maintenance day.
"And there’s room for improvement."
"We want to have more guys that find the net and take the goalie’s vision. We just want to get better breakouts. You name it, we want to get better at every aspect, so we never stop."
While looking to improve their game, the B's can draw on positives from their win in Tampa, in preparation for today's match-up. And although the Lightning come in having lost three straight - including a 4-1 loss to the Rangers on Thursday, a defeat which defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times was "embarrassing…they were outbattling us, outshifting us, outworking us" - the Bruins know how potent a fired-up Tampa team can be.
"I think we know how explosive they are offensively, so we got to be really tight to our net," said Seidenberg. "They threw a lot of pucks in the paint, so we’ve got to pick up sticks and guys to make it a little easier on our goalie and do the same thing again on Saturday."
"We’ve got a tough team coming in, in Tampa," Coach Julien said following the B's win over Ottawa Thursday night. "Tampa is a pretty good team; they give us good games every time they come in here."
Coming into today's matinee, Coach knows his squad is still searching for their best game - and every game is an opportunity to get better.
"I think the guys know. I've had some players come up to me and say, I know I'm not playing my best right now," Coach said on Friday. "Guys know when maybe they're not at the top of their game, that's not an issue."
"It's easy to stay motivated too right now, there's teams that are ahead of us. You work to get there and can't afford to have any letdowns. Those are all motivational factors that keep us going."
Match-Up: The B's have won five straight, while the Lightning have lost three straight and four of five - they currently sit 11th in the East with 19 points - and are on game No. 2 of a four-game road trip.
Goalie Dual: Goalie Dual: Anton Khudobin will be in goal for the B's, opposite the Lightning's Mathieu Garon.
Streaking: Milan Lucic is currently riding a three game point streak coming into tonight’s game notching one goal and two assists during that stretch. Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, and Dennis Seidenberg are currently on a two game point streak coming into tonight.
Special Teams: Bruins power play 7-for-54 (13.0%, 26th NHL), Bruins penalty kill: 62-for-66 (93.9%, 1st NHL)… Lightning power play: 17-for-80 (21.3%, 8th NHL), Lightning penalty kill: 57-for-69 (82.6%, 14th NHL).
Putting Out Bolt's Firepower: The Lightning lead the NHL in goals per game (3.55), but are 26th in goals-against (3.15). Though they allowed four goals from the Rangers on Thursday, Guy Boucher was apparently "fired up" during Friday's practice at Boston University and concentrated on a lot of D-zone work, so the B's can expect a tighter match-up.
Stalling Stamkos: Steven Stamkos was named the No. 1 Star in the NHL for month of February (10 G, 10 A) and currently has league's longest point streak with seven goals and seven assists through eight games.