By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob
After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 on Saturday night, the Boston Bruins will tackle the Vegas Golden Knights just 24 hours later. Since their historic Stanely Cup push, the Golden Knights have struggled. They are 7-9-1 to start the 2018-19 season and are 2-4-0 in their last six games.
Meanwhile, the Bruins proved their worth against a talented Toronto team and should capitalize on that confidence as they take on Vegas. They will be looking to win two games in a row for the first time since October 25th when they shutout the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.
Jake DeBrusk caught fire against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday when he potted two goals in addition to his assist on Matt Grzelcyk’s first goal of the season. This was despite that fact that DeBrusk only received 15:27 of ice time. Though he was held stagnant in the game against the Maple Leafs, it is Boston’s hope that he can find that fire once again when the Bruins take on a lackluster Golden Knights team.
DeBrusk’s linemates have also been hot. Joakim Nordstrom tallied a goal against the Maple Leafs on Saturday and an assist against Vancouver. Meanwhile, David Krejci rests at 12 assists on the season having registered five helpers in his last three games. Nine of those dozen assists have come during five-on-five play.
Jaroslav Halak has remained a force to be reckoned in Boston’s crease. With Tuukka Rask currently on a leave of absence due to personal issues, Halak will carry the load as he already has been in the early stages of the 2018-19 campaign. On Saturday, the netminder improved his record to 5-1-2 and made 40 stops on 41 shots. He currently has a .941 SV%, 1.86 GAA and two shutouts.
The Golden Knights have been led by Jon Marchessault and William Karlsson thus far. Marchessault has tallied eight goals and seven assists to start the campaign while Karlsson has inked four goals and 10 assists. Each forward has been averaging just over 20 minutes per game and will aim to slice their way through a battered Bruins defensive unit.
Even Halak has registered more points than both Noel Acciari and David Backes. The two forwards, who are usually the backbone of Boston’s bottom-six in terms of physical play, have been shutout to start the 2018-19 season. Acciari was scratched for the game against Toronto and Bruce Cassidy announced he will once again be sidelined in the Bruins’ matchup with Vegas on Sunday.
But Boston’s depth has continued to struggle across the board. However, there is hope on the horizon. With Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson now skating on the Bruins’ third line alongside Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen, there is the potential for this line to really take off. They played well against Toronto but simply lacked execution. I would look for them to come up with something against the struggling Golden Knights.
Speaking of depth, Vegas has had a similar problem with their bottom-nine. After Karlsson, who has 14 points, Alex Tuch is ranked third amongst the Golden Knights’ producers with eight points. The Golden Knights currently have five starting forwards with less than three points. Much like Boston’s opponents have been able to get away with thus far, the Bruins will only need to focus on Vegas’ top line if their depth continues their cold streak on Sunday.
Bruins vs. Golden Knights Outlook
Brandon Carlo is a question mark on Sunday. He reportedly suffered an upper-body injury against the Maple Leafs on Saturday and “probably won’t play” according to Cassidy. Jeremy Lauzon has been recalled on an emergency basis and will replace Carlo if need be.
Vegas will look to take advantage of Boston’s broken-down defense that is already missing key pieces in Charlie McAvoy and Kevan Miller. Halak will once again get the start on Sunday and could make up for the injury-plagued blue line. However, this means Halak will be appearing twice in 24 hours. We’ll see if the quick turnaround has any effect on his play.