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Lightning’s physicality shows once again against Bruins

The teams combined for 59 hits, with 28 coming from Tampa Bay.
Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) fights Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (47) during the first period.
Lightning center Blake Coleman (20) fights Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (47) during the first period. [ NATHAN DENETTE | Associated Press ]
Published Aug. 6, 2020|Updated Aug. 6, 2020

If one thing was clear Wednesday, it was that the Lightning and Bruins picked things up right where they left off in March.

Tampa Bay’s 3-2 win left little to the imagination, as the two exchanged words — and fists — throughout the contest.

It started with an early fight between Blake Coleman and Boston’s Torey Krug. The Lightning forward clipped Brandon Carlo near the Boston blue line, and Krug caught up with Coleman near center ice. The two players dropped their gloves, and Coleman got the last shot in, taking Krug down to the ice after getting his right arm free.

The two weren’t alone, as Brayden Point and Charlie McAvoy also got into a tussle. Point chased down the puck along the boards in the first period and got tangled with McAvoy, instead.

Later, Coleman mixed it up with Jeremy Lauzon after the Lightning forward took a cross-check to the shoulder from Brad Marchand.

“I think it’s just one of those things where I somehow always seem to be in the middle of that stuff, whether I’m looking for it or not,” Coleman said. “Obviously, I’ve got some scrappy linemates that play that way on the ice, and we’re going to cause some trouble.”

At the end of the second period, Ryan McDonagh was sandwiched against the boards between Nick Ritchie and Anders Bjork. Ritchie lost his tooth in the scrum that followed, searching for it afterward with Tuukka Rask under dim lighting before the Zamboni smoothed the ice.

The game wasn’t the first time the Lightning, which registered 28 hits, got physical this postseason.

In Monday’s opening round-robin game against the Capitals, Tampa Bay had 45 hits, third-most for the franchise in a postseason game, according to the Fox Sports broadcast.

Related: First round-robin win reminds Lightning of momentum’s importance

The Lightning accumulated 17 penalty minutes against the Bruins, down from 19 against the Capitals. Spend too much time in the box, and a team can get itself in trouble, Lightning forward Tyler Johnson said.

“We’ve got to keep our emotions in check a little bit, and I think that just happens against these guys,” Johnson said. “Everyone gets emotional, and it’s always a tough game. We’ve just got to do a better job of playing within the rules a little bit and whistle-to-whistle playing.”

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Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the fights, scrums and tussles have their place in the game.

“I want these guys to have an impact, and when you’re giving an effort like that and you’re blocking shots and you’re taking hits and you’re giving hits and you’re doing all of those things that some guys just don’t do, it gives teams a lift,” Cooper said. “I don’t find it a distraction. I find it having a positive impact on the game.”

Who’s best suited to be Hedman’s defense partner?

The Lightning has conducted an ongoing search for a defense partner for Victor Hedman for the past two seasons.

It has not been a matter of who can play with Hedman, but rather who is best with him. The Norris Trophy nominee can make anyone look good playing with him.

Hedman was partnered with Zach Bogosian against Washington and Jan Rutta against Boston.

With a two-way defenseman like Hedman, you want more of a stay-at-home partner who can support him if he gets caught up ice. Not a partner he has to bail out on odd man rushes or in front of the net.

Bogosian is the more physical of the two, as he showed with his toughness in front of his net in the shootout win over Washington. And playoff hockey demands toughness and aggressiveness.

But at a point in the season when many teams have firmed up their defense pairs, the Lightning continue to look for Hedman’s perfect partner. 

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

Lindsay Eastwood is on the ground for us in Toronto for the first few rounds of hockey. Follow @LindsayEastw00d.

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