AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen
Tampa Bay hasn’t played in a week Clay Matthews Jersey Elite , while Boston is coming off a hard-fought, seven-game playoff series.
Neither the Lightning nor the less-rested Bruins expect that to mean anything when their second-round playoff series begins Saturday.
A single point separated the Atlantic Division rivals in the standings after the race for the top seed in Eastern Conference came down to the final night of the regular season, and there’s every reason to believe this best-of-seven matchup will be just as tight.
”Obviously, these were the top two teams in the division, and it was a close call until the last game on who was going to finish first and second,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said.
”It’s going to be a tough matchup. They are great team, so are we,” the Norris Trophy finalist said. ”It’s going to come down to the small detail in the game. We have the skill and depth up front to score goals, but we have to keep the puck out of our net.”
Boston won three of four meetings between the teams the regular season.
The Bruins won their opening round playoff series against Toronto in seven games. Tampa Bay, led by Nikita Kucherov’s 10 points (five goals, five assists) eliminated New Jersey in five games after going 0-3-1 against the Devils.
”I think you learn that the regular season means nothing Leonard Williams Jersey Youth ,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. ”We know how they play. Very competitive group, very well structured, especially that top line. … We’re expecting a very tight series against a very good hockey team.”
The Bruins are bracing for a tough test, too.
”It’s going to be a battle,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. ”They were a top team all year. They compete very hard, have a ton of skill, and they have a lot of depth.”
THEY ALL COUNT
The Lightning earned home-ice advantage for the series by finishing one point ahead of Boston in the standings. In fact, it all came down to the final night of the season, when the Bruins were playing Florida in a makeup game for a Jan. 4 game postponed by a snowstorm.
The Panthers won 4-2, leaving Boston with 112 points to 113 for Tampa Bay.
”We’re not going to allow one game to define us, yet we understand the meaning Rashaad Penny Seahawks Jersey ,” coach Bruce Cassidy said then. ”We let one get away, an opportunity lost to have home-ice advantage, and we’ll see if that haunts us down the road. I think it’s too early to tell that right now.”
NOT THE FIRST TIME
The Lightning and Bruins are facing each other in the postseason for only the second time. The other meeting was in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, won by Boston in seven games.
FALLING IN LINE
In the four playoff games the Bruins won against Toronto, the trio of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand had a combined 30 points. In the three games they lost, they were held completely scoreless.
”They’re our most important line,” defenseman Torey Krug said after they tallied three goals with four assists in Game 7. ”They’re the best line in the NHL, and when they’re going it’s hard to stop.”
Marchand will do whatever it takes to get under the skin of his opponents, and in the first round that meant skating up to Toronto forward Leo Komarov and appearing to lick his face. (In November, he appeared to kiss Komarov on the cheek.)
”I thought he wanted to cuddle. I just wanted to get close to him Cheap Sam Darnold Jersey ,” Marchand explained after the playoff game. ”He keeps trying to get close to me. I don’t know if he’s got a thing for me or what. He’s cute.”
Several news organizations reported this week that the NHL sent a message to Marchand to knock it off, but he said he has received no such message. ”This is false,” he tweeted in response to a Boston Globe story that picked up on the original report, from Sportsnet.
I KINDA LIKE HIM
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked how he views Marchand.
”To be honest, what I have seen of him, what goes on out on the ice, he’s a competitive you know what and I love that. I think some of the greatest comments you can give a player is I hate that kid but I do wish he was on my team,” Cooper said.
”I was fortunate enough during the All-Star game to meet him … and off the ice to spend a little time. It actually was disappointing, I was hoping he was going to be an idiot. I was hoping I wasn’t going to like him,” Cooper added. ”But he was unreal, and it’s amazing that a guy who is that kind and nice and outgoing and friendly is the same guy who jumps on the ice. You have to respect that about him. And when that kids jumps on the ice Landon Collins Giants Jersey , he comes to play.”
AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed to this report.
Just about the worst thing that could happen to a player in free agency happened to Mark Sanchez as the quarterback was suspended by the NFL. Sanchez was hit with a four-game ban for his violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.Sanchez confirmed the suspension in an Instagram post in which he says "I want to say unequivocally that I have never cheated or attempted to gain a competitive advantage by using a banned performance enhancing substance." A post shared by Mark Sanchez (@mark_sanchez) on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:08pm PDTHe goes on to say that he's taken 73 drug tests during his NFL career and all but one of them came back clean. He put the blame on "circumstances of unknowing supplement contamination, not the use of performance enhancing substances."Sanchez finished up the post by saying he accepts responsibility and that he looks forward to getting back on the field next season.Nicknamed the "Sanchize" during his time in New York, Sanchez was the Jets starting quarterback from 2009-2012. He led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons and is currently tied for third, all-time, in postseason road victories by a QB.Since the 2013 season Sanchez has been a backup with聽five different teams and has started just 10 games over that span. He spent the 2017 season backing up Mitchell Trubisky (and Mike Glennon) in Chicago and attempted 18 passes all season.Sanchez became a free agent after the season and hasn't had any known visits, though he was mentioned as a possibility with the Seahawks who are in the need for a backup quarterback. The suspension certainly won't help his cause and he'll be on the reserve/suspended list for four games, no matter when he signs with a team.Sanchez certainly isn't the first big-name NFL player to be hit with a PED suspension as they've come in waves in recent weeks. Last week Thomas Davis of the Panthers was popped and he'll also miss the first four games of what will be his last NFL season. In March, Corey Liuget of the Chargers also failed a PED test as did Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.A second PED violation for any of those players would then result in a 10-game suspension as Brian Cushing of the Texans found out last season..