By: Mandi Mahoney | Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney
The Bruins have gone 1-1-1 so far on their four-game road trip, but their record doesn’t reflect just how well they’ve held things together despite icing a defensive corps containing two National Hockey League regulars, one seventh defenseman, and three rookies who were called up from the AHL. The Black and Gold have also been missing their best player at both ends of the ice, perennial Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron, for most of the last two games.
Wednesday in Colorado, the Bruins were holding their own in a fun back-and-forth contest until captain Zdeno Chara left the game with a knee injury in the second period. Once Chara left the game, the wheels fell off, and the Bruins lost 6-3 after surrendering five unanswered goals. One plus from this game was that the secondary scoring was alive and well, with Jake DeBrusk potting two goals.
In Dallas on Friday, John Moore was out of the lineup, on top of Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen. The Dallas game was poorly officiated, and on top of that, Patrice Bergeron was injured on an awkward hit by Radek Faksa. Tuukka Rask played a great game, but the Bruins couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket and lost 1-0 in overtime. The Stars got many opportunities to score, but between Rask and the patchwork defense, Dallas was unable to make it happen during regulation.
On Saturday night, the Bruins visited the Coyotes, who were quite fashionable in their 90s-chic Kachina jerseys (where were Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick, though?). The B’s were able to net two goals in the first three minutes, most notably Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s first NHL goal. Jake DeBrusk scored within two minutes of JFK. It was nice to see someone score other than Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, or David Pastrnak, however, Bergeron being out of the lineup definitely had something to do with that. It was another game where the young defense helped hold it together, and the save of the game went to Jeremy Lauzon. Bruins won, 2-1.
Kevan Miller (hand) could be returning for the Detroit game on Wednesday night. We don’t have any news on John Moore or Patrice Bergeron yet, either.
Now, on to the next week of games…
November 21 @ Detroit:
The Detroit Red Wings are a shell of their former selves. They have a 9-9-2 record and a goal differential of -8. Currently, the Wings are in 7th place in our 8 team Atlantic Division and are 23rd in the National Hockey League, with 20 points on the season. Their special teams are better than their record would have one believing, as their power play is 11th in the league at 22.4%, and they have killed 81.3% of their penalties, good for 10th in the NHL.
Leading the way in scoring for the Red Wings is Dylan Larkin, with 8-11-19 totals in 20 games, followed by former Maine Black Bear Gustav Nyquist, who has scored two goals and assisted on 13, for 15 points on the season. Goaltending has been better than Detroit’s record would lead us to believe; Jimmy Howard has a save percentage of .922, with a GAA of 2.64. The Wings don’t take many shots – they are 27th in the league and are taking an average of 28.8 per game (just behind the Bruins at 26th, and 29.4 shots/game). However, they are allowing the third most shots per game, at 35.5.
The last time the two teams faced each other was October 13 at the Garden. David Pastrnak scored a hat trick, and the Bruins won 8-2. Detroit obviously wants that one back, and if they have any competitive spirit left in them, they will come out flying Wednesday night. Hopefully, all the Bruin cubs on defense will be ready for them.
November 23, vs. Pittsburgh:
The Bruins’ annual tradition of playing a matinee game on Black Friday while we all gorge ourselves on Thanksgiving leftovers has been squashed in favor of a more National TV-friendly schedule. For the second year in a row, they will face the Penguins at home that night.
Imagine having a roster with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel, and still being terrible? You don’t have to imagine it, though, because the Penguins have brought your imagination to life! Up to this point, Pittsburgh has been alarmingly bad, and have dropped 8 of their last 9 games. They are off to a 7-8-3 start and are 29th in the league in points. They are last in the Metropolitan Division, as well, but are only one point behind the struggling New Jersey Devils.
The Pens’ power play is converting at 25.7% and is seventh-best in the league. They’ve killed 80% of their penalties, which is 15th. Bruins are 29.8% (third), and 79.1% (18th), respectively. Evgeni Malkin is their scoring leader with 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 18 games, and former Bruin and hot dog enthusiast Phil Kessel has notched 9-14-23 totals in 18 games. Sidney Crosby has missed two outings but still has 19 points in the 16 games he has played. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh’s number one goaltender, has been terrible this season, with a sub-.900 save percentage (.877!), and goals against average of 4.08. Woof. They do have themselves a bit of a goaltending controversy, as many people are calling for backup Casey DeSmith (.903 SV%, 2.25 GAA) to play more games. Sounds familiar. doesn’t it?
November 24th, @ Montreal:
The best rivalry in sports has died down a little bit given roster moves both teams have made, and the difference in their records the last few seasons. Max Pacioretty was traded to Vegas for Tomas Tatar, Alex Galchenyuk was swapped for Max Domi, who is apparently a number one center (who knew?!). Andrei Markov was sent packing a year ago for some reason, and Shea Weber is still injured. Nobody expected the Canadiens to be able to do anything this year.
Surprisingly, though, the Habs’ record is exactly the same as the Bruins: 11-6-3 with 25 points. The Canadiens have won their last two games after dropping one to Edmonton earlier this week. Montreal’s power play is 29th in the league, as is somehow only scoring 13.5% of the time. These are not the same Habs who embellish and roll around on the ice anytime an opposing player skated within ten feet of them, as their power play will get them nowhere. Their PK is 13th in the league at 80.9%. These are not the numbers we are used to seeing with the Habs. This is a whole new team.
Max Domi has scored 10 goals and assisted on 14, good for 24 points in the first 20 games. This is a record for the Canadiens, which seems bizarre given their history. Tom Tatar and Jonathan Drouin are tied for second on the team with 17 points apiece. Defenseman Jeff Petry is having a solid offensive season, having scored 15 points already. – not too shabby.
In continuing with the theme of “Everything In Montreal Is Weird This Season”, the Habs’ goaltending has been terrible – really, really bad. Carey Price’s save percentage is only .904, and his goals-against average is 2.92. That’s pretty bad, but their backup, Antti Niemi, is even worse at .887 SV% and 3.74 GAA. Yikes! Price’s numbers may be on the upswing, though, as he’s stopped 79 of 83 shots in his last two starts, though that’s a lot of shots allowed over two games.
The answer for the Bruins will be to put as many pucks on net as possible and to create traffic in the crease. If the Bruins can do that while holding off Domi, Tatar, and Drouin, they can come out of Montreal on top.
Opponents like Detroit and especially Pittsburgh should not be overlooked, but there is no reason the Bruins can’t take at least four out of a possible six points in the next week. Not losing anyone else to injury, unfortunately, is probably the most important thing the Bruins can do this week.