Photo Credit: Winslow Townson (USA TODAY Sports)
The Bruins are currently out on their longest consecutive away games with five in a row, starting out in Vancouver and working their way back to end it in Buffalo. Boston has the best road record in the league with an incredible 16-6-4, and that’s following a 6-1 road loss last night to the Vancouver Canucks. Here’s a quick look at the rest of the upcoming games.
Calgary has been having a very up and down season this year and the Bruins have just recently beaten them last Tuesday 5-2. The Flames are right on the cusp of making the playoffs, trailing Minnesota by one point. They have the roster and skill to make the playoffs, but their goaltending and team defense have been their issue. They have the fourth worst Goal Differential in their conference but are still right in the playoff mix. Head Coach Glen Gulutzan has lit a fire under his team following his outburst at their practice on Jan. 5th that has led to the Flames having a 10-5-4 record since.
After being one of the Cup favorites at the start of the season, Edmonton has fallen tremendously out of their high ranking. With trade rumors swirling around Patrick Maroon, the team is gearing up for some changes to their lineup. For Edmonton, their special teams are killing them this year. They rank 31st in both power play and penalty kill, which attributes to the change in the quality of play from netminder Cam Talbot. After a season where he came fourth in Vezina voting and even had a vote for the Hart trophy, his play has dropped off significantly. He has a .901 save percentage, and a 3.04 GAA. If the Bruins want to win this game they need to get the Oilers on the penalty kill, take advantage of their way more efficient man-advantage play and get shots on net.
Talbot has also been pretty outspoken about goalie interference recently, which is pretty understandable. Here’s the audio. *There are a couple of f-words in this audio*
Everyone is predicting this to be a first-round matchup in the playoffs, but I’m not so sure. Boston currently has three games in hand on Tampa Bay, and are only three points back of the first place in the Atlantic division, and first in the Eastern Conference. But no matter what happens in the next few months, the Bruins need to win this game first. Toronto has been on fire offensively in the past 10 games, totaling 42 goals in regulation/Overtime in those games. On the other hand, Boston is one of the best defensive teams, averaging only 2.4 goals against per game, the best in the league. If this does end up being a first-round series, we’ll be in for a treat.
After losing recently to the Sabers, Boston has no reason to treat this game any different than they would if they were playing a top end team like Tampa. They are currently 1-1-1 in three of their four-game series this season against Buffalo. The Sabers have gone 2-2-1 in their last five, and have been making a bit of a resurgence lately, even if they are still battling it out with Arizona for the best lottery draft odds at the bottom of the standings. Boston needs to get the two points and not give them a chance like they did on February 10th.
The Bruins are poised to pass the Lightning if they continue to play like they have in the second half of the season, and maybe pass Vegas too. At the end of this road trip, I expect them to have gone 3-1-1, picking up 7 of the possible 10.
Sources: Hockey-Reference.com, ESPN.com, moneypuck.com