Published On: Thu, May 3rd, 2018

Lightning's depth has flipped the script in taking series lead over Bruins

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Any postseason matchup between the top two teams in their respective conference is bound to be a good one. But when you look at the star power between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins, it’s easy to get excited at the prospect of these rosters going head to head in a best-of-seven series.

It’s even easier to get excited when you look at the bodies of work each side produced in Round 1, as the ultra-hyped David PastrnakPatrice BergeronBrad Marchand line was an ice-tilting machine in taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos combined for 16 points in dispatching the New Jersey Devils in just five games.

But three games into their second-round series, the Bruins’ and Lightning’s stars have gone mostly quiet, shifting the focus into a depth battle.

The Bruins’ top line was dominant in Game 1, a 6-2 victory, but haven’t been as potent in Games 2 and 3. The Kucherov-Stamkos pairing, on the other hand, has been completely silent, mustering just one point – an empty-netter from the captain to close out Wednesday’s win.

With Tampa’s duo struggling to get going, one would think Boston easily holds the upper hand. However, in back-to-back wins, the Lightning’s depth players have outplayed the Bruins’, and it’s been the difference so far in the series.

After an admittedly poor Game 1, Brayden Point flipped the script and put forth a four-point effort in Game 2. Ondrej Palat, Point’s left winger, scored two goals early in Game 3 to set the tone in what was a near perfect road victory, which also saw Anthony Cirelli bury his first NHL postseason marker.

(Photo Courtesy: Getty Images)

All in all, the Lightning have 25 points from lines two through four combined with the defensive corps through three games, while the Bruins have generated just nine points from players outside the aforementioned first unit.

The Bruins’ strength all season long was the success of the Bergeron line, and that carried into the postseason, as they only beat the Leafs when that line was rolling. Now facing a deficit in a series for the first time in the playoffs, head coach Bruce Cassidy knows changes, either in performance or personnel, need to be made.

Cassidy was asked about the production of his third line, the scoreless triumvirate of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash, and David Backes, following Game 3, and he indicated a shakeup may be in order to help find a spark.

“I am concerned,” he said, per Tim Rosenthal of “We’ve got some guys that weren’t dressed tonight that have played well for this team.

“Some guys have had a tough time … if they stay in, obviously they need to better.”

The good news for the Bruins is they have several internal options capable of subbing in successfully, as the likes of Ryan Donato and Brian Gionta occupy the press box, and could feasibly step in and help balance the scales.

The Bruins just better hope it happens fast, because their season may depend on it.

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