Bruins-Lightning preview: Preparing for the playoffs

Bruins-Lightning preview: Preparing for the playoffs
April 25, 2013, 7:00 pm
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The Bruins have plenty to prove, and it starts with showing that they have the pride and fire to respond to a weak defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. There’s no doubt the Black and Gold don’t want one of their lasting memories of the regular season to be an indifferent, careless effort against one of their biggest rivals in Philadelphia, and need to go into the playoffs feeling good about their game.

More than that they’ve got to prove to they’re ready to start the postseason in less than a week – because right now they look primed for a first round beating at the hands of one of the hungry NHL teams that’s had to win out in order to qualify for the postseason.

“We’re playing for first place in the divisions, so it’s important to us. That’s the way we’re approaching this,” said Chris Kelly. “We know we didn’t play well. There are times throughout the course of the year where we haven’t played well. Maybe that game the other night was something we needed.

“We have three games to…I don’t want to say find our game because we know how to play. We just need to get comfortable and confident. Confidence is a big thing going into the playoffs.”

There has been plenty of talk this season about the Bruins finding their game, and getting back to the Big Bad Bruins way of doing things. With less than a week remaining in the regular season, talk is cheap and it’s time for the Bruins to get busy living or get busy dying as they prepare for a playoff run that could dictate plenty of futures within the walls of the Bruins organization.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: David Krejci has been remarkably consistent all season, but he’s got just two points and is a minus-4 in his last ten games in a quiet month of April. Some of it is the musical chairs game being played with his wingers, and some of it is clearly the struggles of both Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. But Krejci needs to pick his game up a notch before the Bruins hit the playoffs, and start creating both five-on-five and on a power play for a team that desperately needs him. He scored a goal in Tuesday’s loss to the Flyers, but also coughed up the first goal of the game on a rough turnover to Scott Hartnell.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “Some teams aren’t giving up. They’re coming out and playing some solid hockey. When you know you’ve only got ‘X’ number of games left and you want to finish on a positive note, you play your best. That’s what we should expect.” –Claude Julien on a Lightning team that tapped the Leafs on Wednesday night before traveling up to Boston to face the Bruins tonight.

KEY MATCHUP: Marty St. Louis had a hat trick in Wednesday night’s win over the Maple Leafs, and has five goals in his last four games for Tampa Bay while closing out a season outside of the playoffs. It will be up to Zdeno Chara and possibly Dennis Seidenberg, if paired together, to shut down St. Louis, Steve Stamkos and the rest of the high-powered Tampa attack coming off one of Big Zee’s worst games of the season in Philadelphia. Chara needs to prove it’s not fatigue after playing in every game during this shortened season for the Bruins.

STAT TO WATCH: 2 – the number of game-winning goals for Brad Marchand against the Tampa Bay Lightning this season in two games against them.

INJURIES: Forward Nathan Horton (upper body) is out for the Bruins and will miss his third consecutive game, though he’s begun skating again.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask stopped 11 of the 13 shots he faced after Claude Julien pulled Anton Khudobin from Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Flyers in Philly. Rask has only won once in his last four starts for the Black and Gold, and that was a shutout of a lowly Florida Panthers club that’s playing out the string. Ben Bishop has been excellent for the Lightning since coming over to Tampa Bay in a trade, and he would be the most logical candidate to starts with so few games left in the regular season. He was the winning goaltender in Tampa’s 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs in Tampa on Wednesday night.