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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 3rd (All times Eastern)

Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0-0) at Boston Bruins (0-0-0), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The defending Eastern Conference champions will open the 2013-14 season on home ice, as the Boston Bruins welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning for Thursday's battle at TD Garden.

Thursday's contest is the first divisional matchup between the Lightning and Bruins, who both play in the Atlantic Division thanks to the onset of realignment. Boston dominated the Lightning during the 2013 season, winning all three meetings while allowing Tampa to score a total of four goals.

The Bruins, who won a Stanley Cup in 2011, returned to the final round of the playoffs last spring before losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Considering the Bruins came within two wins of claiming their second championship in three years, Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli was expected to make few changes to his roster in the offseason but he wound up doing the opposite. The Bruins traded away the likes of Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas and also watched as other players like Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr and Anton Khudobin left for free agency.

Chiarelli did make up for the loss of Jagr by signing veteran winger Jarome Iginla to a one-year, $6 million contract over the summer. That came after Iginla drew the ire of Boston fans by choosing Pittsburgh over the Bruins at the 2013 trade deadline.

Getting another winger -- Loui Eriksson -- from Dallas in the Seguin deal also could help spark an offense that ranked 13th in the NHL in scoring during the 2013 regular season.

With Tuukka Rask between the pipes, Zdeno Chara on the blue line and head coach Claude Julien behind the bench, the Bruins expect to return to the playoffs for a seventh straight year in 2013-14, but time will only tell if the roster overhaul helps them make another trip to the Cup Finals or not.

"I think we're still a great team and have a lot of potential," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron told his team's website. "It's a long season like we all know and we have to make sure we do the right thing. It's so cliche but it's still the same thing again, you have to start all the way back down the mountain and climb our way back up, so that's the way we have to look at it."

The Lightning, meanwhile, will try to get this season off to a good start after missing out on the playoffs for a second straight spring in 2013. One big reason Tampa failed to qualify for the postseason last season was the club only managed to go 6-16-2 in road games during the lockout-shortened campaign.

Tampa Bay heads into this season with a new captain in longtime winger Martin St. Louis, who was recently named as the replacement for the departed Vincent Lecavalier.

"Marty embodies everything a captain should be," said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. "The captaincy is one of the highest honors in hockey and Marty is well-deserving."

Lecavalier, the first overall pick in the 1998 draft, had spent his entire career in Tampa before having his contract bought out by GM Steve Yzerman and the Lightning front office during the offseason. The departure of Lecavalier, who went on to sign a five-year deal with Philadelphia last summer, leaves St. Louis as the only player left from the franchise's one and only Stanley Cup championship victory in 2004.

With St. Louis, who led the NHL in scoring with 60 points in 48 games last season, and sniping centerman Steven Stamkos leading the offensive attack, the Lightning will be a dangerous scoring team once again. Stamkos had 29 goals during the shortened season, leaving him behind only Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the NHL's goal-scoring crown.

However, the Bolts finished third in the NHL in offense with an average of 3.06 goals per game in 2013, but the club also surrendered 3.05 goals per contest and that brutal defensive effort is what led to Tampa finishing 14th in the Eastern Conference standings.

Yzerman and Cooper, who had the interim tag removed from his title during the offseason, hope the team defense or goaltending can improve in 2013-14.

During last season, Yzerman traded forward Cory Conacher to Ottawa in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop and he is expected to split time in net this season with Anders Lindback.

Oft-injured Lightning forward Ryan Malone, who played in only 24 games last season, battled an upper-body injury during the preseason, but is expected to play on Thursday.

Boston forward David Krejci, who was named an alternate captain by Boston earlier this week, is questionable for Thursday's game due to back spasms. Krejci led Boston with 26 points in 22 playoff contests last spring.

10/03 10:53:19 ET

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Schedule

Saturday, April 19Full Scoreboard
Chicago 4/19 3:00 PM ET
St. Louis @theRink | TV: NBC, CBC, RDS
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. St. Louis leads series, 1-0.
Columbus 4/19 7:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh NBC, CBC, RDS
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Pittsburgh leads series, 1-0.
Minnesota 4/19 9:30 PM ET
Colorado NBCSN, TSN, Altitude
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Colorado leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
4th
WAS 0
STL 3
 
4th
CLE 0
TOR 3
 
3rd
DET 2
ANA 1
 
1st
BOS 1
BAL 1
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
8:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
8:10pm Tonight
COL
PHI
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
Half
TOR 46
BRK 50
 
3:30pm Today
LAC
GSW
7:00pm Tonight
IND
ATL
9:30pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
3:00pm Today
STL
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR