(Photo Credit: WBUR)
By Mike Cratty Twitter: @Mike_Cratty
As their back-and-forth start to the 2017-2018 season continues, a three-game western conference road trip lies ahead for the Boston Bruins. With injuries still present in the lineup, the Bruins went 1-2-1 this past week facing the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs most recently in a home-and-home series. These four games all came within six days so three days of rest before their road trip will be beneficial.
In a forward core with David Krejci, David Backes, and Ryan Spooner still out, the other big guys up front such as Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron have been forced to carry extra weight in their absences.
Getting the ball rolling has been so tough thus far as the Bruins have yet to win two games in a row through 16 games and their record currently sits at 6-6-4. This record has them sitting in sixth place in the Atlantic division with 16 points.
First up is the Anaheim Ducks in the first game of a back-to-back California series on the road trip They have a very similar start to the season as the Bruins, partly due to those injury complications. Their record currently stands at 7-6-3 and has them in sixth place in the Pacific division with 17 points. Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler, Patrick Eaves, Ondrej Kase, Jared Boll, and Ryan Kesler are all currently out due to injury. That’s pretty rough. The craziness within their lineup has played a role in the Ducks losing their last five games, with the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning up next tonight.
The Bruins will look to end their current three-game losing streak with a win over the Ducks to start the road trip.
Game two of the back-to-back California series features the Los Angeles Kings, while they continue to turn heads. The Kings currently sit in first place in the Pacific Division with a three-point lead on the Vegas Golden Knights. Their +15 goal differential is second best in the NHL behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bounce back seasons from Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have been big in LA’s resurgence to the top of the standings. The Kings are looking reminiscent of the well-rounded teams that won Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.
The Kings have been able to survive without Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, and Marian Gaborik for some time. Jonathan Quick is back to playing like his old self which makes a solid Kings defense look even better in front of him. Back on October 28, the Bruins took a stout Kings team to overtime. They will look to do get two points instead of one this time around.
The conclusion of the road trip will take the Bruins to San Jose to take on the Sharks. San Jose currently holds a 9-6-0 record and sits in a three-way tie for points (18) in the Pacific division with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, just one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks. Besides the absence of Paul Martin in the lineup, the Sharks have a good bill of health right now, which has helped them win seven of their last ten games.
Facing one of the hottest teams in the league in the Sharks will not make the conclusion of what looks to be a tough road trip any easier. Clarity could be ahead if some good fortune comes the Bruins way. Consistency needs to be established sooner rather than later if they want to keep up in the divisional race as the season continues to progress.