Bruins Game 35 Preview: Anaheim Ducks

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Following a big 4-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night, the Boston Bruins will play host to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night in an important game for both teams. The Bruins currently have a record of 18-12-4, good for a one-point lead on Montreal for the first Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. Boston has a great home record this season, 11-4-0 to be exact.

Anaheim, on the other hand, has been on fire as of late, going 8-2-0 in their last ten games, losing in their most recent outing against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. Anaheim has a current record of 19-12-5, third place in the Pacific Division. However, their road record has struggled this year, 9-8-0, while their home record sits at 10-4-5.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak 10-5-2 2.27 GAA .929 SV% Last Game: 22 Saves in 4-0 win vs MTL

ANA: John Gibson (Not Confirmed) 15-9-4 2.52 GAA .927 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-2 win vs PIT

Who’s Hot

In Monday’s win over the Canadiens, Colby Cave scored his first career NHL goal and tallied in an assist as well. While Cave has not been a consistent scorer this season, the two-point night against Boston’s biggest rival is something to be proud of.

Once again, David Pastrnak has been on fire – as usual – this season. Pastrnak was in the middle of a five-game point streak that started back on December 6th against Tampa Bay and just recently ended on Sunday against the Sabres. During the streak, Pastrnak scored two goals and seven assists for nine points. Even with the scoreless game against Buffalo, Pasta rebounded immediately with two assists against Montreal on Monday to bring his season totals to 21-20-41 in 34 games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Winslow Townson / AP)

Jaroslav Halak will be getting the start in between the pipes according to Bruce Cassidy. The 33-year-old goaltender is coming off of a 22-save shutout in the win over Montreal and now has two wins in his last three starts. Halak is second in the National Hockey League for highest save percentage with a minimum of 15 games played, behind only Andrei Vasilevskiy (.930 SV%), but Halak has started in three more games.

Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf has been a play-making machine this season for Anaheim. In 30 games played in 2018-19, Getzlaf has nine goals and twenty assists, including seven points in the last five games. The Regina, Saskatchewan native has continued this season after a strong 2017-18 year considering the time he spent injured.

Who’s Not

Even with Getzlaf’s twenty-nine helpers, the Ducks have really struggled this season with scoring goals. The entirety of the team has scored the fourth-lowest amount of goals (91) in the entire league. One of the main culprits of that statistic is the lack of shots they put on the opposing goaltender. The Ducks are dead-last in shots-per-game, averaging only 26.8 shots per game. In that same stat, Boston averages 32.5 shots per game.

Noel Acciari has still failed to produce at a level that may be wanted/needed. In today’s NHL, all four lines should be able to tally in some goals when the team requires goals. Acciari’s linemates, Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly have a combined eleven points between them, while Acciari only has one assist in 28 games. In addition, Acciari has a -6 rating – the second-lowest among Bruin forwards.

Bruins vs Ducks Outlook

Boston has not had the best winning percentage against Anaheim when they have played each other during the course of history. In the 34 games, Boston has walked away with 13 wins, 18 losses – a winning percentage of .426. Anaheim won both meetings in the ’17/’18, a 4-2 win on November 15th, 2017 and a 3-1 win on January 30th, 2018. Anaheim has won nine-straight games over Boston dating back to January 2014.

There is a simple hockey rule – prevent shots against and you have a good chance at winning. While the Ducks have not been shooting a lot, they have been winning games. If the Bruins can play some solid defence and if Jaroslav Halak can continue to play like he did against the Canadiens, the Bruins can have a great chance at winning this game.

Boston’s power-play may end up being one of the biggest advantages in this game. At 25.5% on the man-advantage, the B’s are 5th in the league for that stat. On the flip side, Anaheim’s penalty-kill percentage is just over 80%, good for 14th in the National Hockey League.

Nonetheless, it should be a very interesting hockey game. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm EST from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Below is the lineup for Monday’s win vs Montreal, as it will be the same for the game against the Ducks.

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