Based on head-to-head play during the regular season, the matchup in the Eastern Conference Second Round between the between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning would seem to favor the Bruins, who won the first three games against their Atlantic Division rivals before a 4-0 loss April
That loss, however, meant the Lightning would have home-ice advantage in this series after Tampa Bay finished one point ahead of Boston in the regular season (113-112). And that could be significant.
The Bruins largely have had the Lightning’s number, dating to the last time they played each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the Eastern Conference Final prior to the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. That series went seven games, ending with a 1-0 win by Boston in Game 7.
“I think it’s an equally formidable, if not even more so, task [than the first round],” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said. “Not a lot of holes in their lineup. We had some success in the regular season against them. We’re going to have to find a way to replicate that and probably be even better.”
Boston will have to stop the Tampa Bay offense, which brings the kind of scoring depth reminiscent of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Each relies heavily on its first line; Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak for the Bruins, and J.T. Miller, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov for the Lightning.