Haggerty's Bruins-Lightning preview

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Haggerty's Bruins-Lightning preview

TAMPA BAY The Bruins limped into Tampa Bay wondering how many healthy bodies theyd be able to dress on Tuesday night against the Lightning, but it appears that they will have more than expected.

The Bruins will have 22 players on the ice for pregame skate including 13 forwards and seven defensemen, and theyll certainly have more than the battered and beaten skeleton crew of 15 skaters left on the bench for the end of their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday.

Both Patrice Bergeron and Adam McQuaid took part in the Tuesday morning skate at the Tampa Times Forum and will be game-time decisions for a Bruins team that feared they had lost both just 48 hours ago.

Marty Turco will lead the Bruins onto the ice for the first time since arriving in Boston and the Bruins have another chance to utilize one of their games in hand tonight with the Ottawa Senators again idle on the schedule.

Its up to Boston to take out a Tampa Bay team thats seven points out of the playoffs and fading out of the picture, so a strong opening salvo from the Bruins could effectively silence the Bolts.

Thats the plan for a Bruins team thats found themselves down by 2-0 deficits in the first period in three of their last five games, and has been doing far too much chasing of the puck rather than seizing possession of it.

"We need a little urgency here. Not panic, but urgency," Claude Julien said. "Weve got to try to get some wins here. Thats what you have to do through some injuries and some guys are banged up and still playing right now. Every team is going through the same thing, so we need to make sure were ready to play hard and win some games. We want to be able to stay where we are in the Eastern Conference standings right now.

Once we got over this hump and were finishing a little better and get back to a healthier squad you hope it will pay off at that point.

Through all of the bad times over the last two months the Bruins have been able to avoid stringing together a three-game losing streak. Itll be a challenge to keep that from happening against a Lightning team with nothing to lose on Tuesday night against a Boston team that ousted them from the playoffs last year.

That seems like an awful long time ago at this point.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Tim Thomas needs to get air put into his tires and gas put into the tank after nine straight appearances that simply got worse as the 37-year-old went on. Thomas was pulled from Sundays loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins after allowing three goals on 10 shots, and is 3-4 with a 3.60 goals against average and an .860 save percentage during seven appearances in the month of March. Hell get his pit stop this week as Marty Turco gets the start tonight.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: We need a little urgency here. Not panic, but urgency. Weve got to try to get some wins here. Thats what you have to do through some injuries and some guys are banged up and still playing right now. Claude Julien on the need for the Bruins to still salvage points while going through the NHL gauntlet over the last month.

KEY MATCHUP: Marty Turco will have his hands full with Steve Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Ryan Malone attacking the Boston net with their typical flair and skill. For a goaltender that was out of the league for nearly a year, its a bit of a rude awakening to get tossed back into the mix against the Penguins and Lightning back-to-back. But thats the life of an NHL goaltender and hell have to show the same kind of life and energy he had in Pittsburgh while double-stacking into spectacular saves against Jordan Staal and Arron Asham.

STAT TO WATCH: 2 That's the number of goals for Daniel Paille in two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who tend to give up some short-handed goals while on the man advantage.

INJURIES: Rich Peverley (right knee sprain), Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins, and Benoit Pouliot is out with a lower body injury thats caused him to miss the last two games. Max Sauve was sent back to Boston with a hip injury suffered Sunday and hes expected to be shelved for a lengthy period of time. Both Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Adam McQuaid (upper body) skated on Tuesday morning and are game-time decisions for the Bruins. For the Tampa Bay Lightning Vinny Lecavalier (hand), Mathieu Garon (groin), Mattias Ohlund (knees) and Marc-Andre Bergeron (back) are all out of the lineup.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Marty Turco will be making his first NHL start in nearly a year against the Lightning after making 20 saves in the final two periods against the Penguins Sunday afternoon. Rookie Dustin Tokarski will be making his third straight appearance for the Tampa Bay Lightning following the injury to Mathieu Garon, and hes still looking for his first win with an .891 save percentage.

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration. 

The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.

“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.

“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”

The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Beleskey/Blidh-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas stood before the media throng on Friday afternoon at the Celtics’ practice facility and answered all the questions with the usual truthful tone sprinkled with a bit of humor.
 
But you could sense that he was still bitter about the results announced by the NBA on Thursday as to who will be the starters in next month’s All-Star Game.
 
Cleveland’s LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler were the frontcourt starters announced by the league. In the backcourt you will find Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who finished in a tie with Thomas in this first season in which fans, media and players all have a say in who will be the game’s starting five, as opposed to past seasons in which the starters were chosen strictly by fans.
 
DeRozan and Thomas finished in a tie under the voting system, but DeRozan moved ahead of Thomas due to a tie-breaker (fan vote), in which DeRozan had about 41,000 more votes than Thomas.
 
“It’s not the end of the world; it’s all good,” said Thomas. “I was disappointed, but those guys deserve it as well. I did everything I could in my control to put myself in position to be a starter. It’s not the end of the world.”
 
Especially knowing that the coaches will vote him on to the team for the second year in a row.
 
But for Thomas to be even in the conversation speaks to how the league’s new system of choosing All-Star starters, makes the whole choosing of starters about more than just a popularity contest, which is the irony of Thomas being left off the starting five – it ultimately came down to DeRozan receiving more votes from fans than Thomas.
 
“I didn’t really look at it. I didn’t look at what the reason was, but it is what it is,” Thomas said. “I’ll use it as motivation. I have to get better. That’s all I took out of that. I’m not where I want to be.”
 
Thomas finished fourth in fan voting for the starting nod, but was second among players and first among Eastern Conference guards among the media.
 
“I appreciate everybody who voted for me, especially you [media] guys,” Thomas said. “The media showed me some love and then my peers showed me love too.”
 
But as far as coming so close to being an All-Star starter and not making it, Thomas said, “It hurts but I’ll be alright. I’ll use it as motivation and keep going.”
 
Thomas is having a banner season that has elevated his name and game into the conversation for the league’s MVP award that so far is being led by Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
He averages 28.7 points per game, which is tops among Eastern Conference players and fourth overall. 

Among his more notable accomplishments this season, he scored a franchise-record 29 points in the fourth quarter of a win over Miami, and in the same game, wound up scoring a career-high 52 points.
 
Thomas isn’t the only NBA player who has had a season that most would believe would result in him being an All-Star starter.
 
“You look in the west, [Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook] averages a triple-double and he didn’t get in [to start],” Thomas said. “I guess…I’ll let everybody debate for me and argue for me. Those guys that made it who start, they deserved it.”