On Tuesday, April 4, at 7pm ET, the Boston Bruins (43-30-6) will host the Tampa Bay Lightning (39-29-10).
Need to know: Lightning
Tampa Bay is 5-0-1 in their last six games. For this reason, the playoff hopes are staying alive. However, tonight is a must-win. If Tampa falls tonight, their playoff hopes are over. Even winning out their final three games after tonight, they could only potentially tie the Bruins in points. But, the Bs hold the favor in the tiebreaker and would be in. The pressure is on as we narrow in on the last few days of the regular season.
As of now, there has not been a definitive answer to whether or not forward Steven Stamkos will be in the lineup tonight. After being out since the middle of November, he has returned to practicing with the team. His return seems to be any day now, but it may be a little too late. In the absence of Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov has steppe up in a big way. He is currently tied for third in the league with 38 goals and tied for first with PP goals (17). Along with defenseman Victor Hedman’s 28 PP assists, the Lightning are fourth across the league on the power-play (23.1%).
Need to know: Bruins
The Bruins are currently riding a five-game winning streak, the longest streak this season. After jumping into second in the Atlantic Division, the Bs fell back down to the second wild card spot after last night’s games. However, a playoff clinching scenario is still in play tonight. As mentioned, Tampa is must-win mode in order to stay alive. This means, if the Bruins win tonight, they’re in. Two points in regulation tonight lock in a playoff appearance and the rest of the week’s play will determine seeding in the division. The Bruins come into tonight with a 95% chance of making it to the post season.
Toronto and Ottawa are also in action tonight. With a win, Toronto clinches a playoff birth as well. For Ottawa, the odds remain high with a win, but cannot totally clinch just yet.
Marchand – Bergeron – Backes
Stafford – Krejci – Pastrnak
Beleskey – Spooner – Kuraly
Moore – Nash – Acciari
Chara – Carlo
Krug – McQuaid
Liles – K. Miller
*Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was on the ice for practice today as well.