By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The Boston Bruins will look to finally close out this successful five-game road trip with their eighth straight win today against the St. Louis Blues. The Bruins started off this western road trip with back-to-back wins over the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings followed by a 6-5 overtime win over the Sharks and a 3-2 over the Golden Knights in Vegas. Boston currently holds a four-point lead on Toronto for the second Atlantic division spot.
The St. Louis Blues have had one of the biggest turnarounds of any team in 2018-19. At one point, the Blues were near the basement of the NHL standings, but off of an eleven-game winning streak, the Blues are now in a divisional playoff spot, third in the Central division. The eleven wins in a row set a new franchise record for most consecutive wins, but with their last loss to the Dallas Stars, the Blues will look to get right back in the win column against a tough Bruins team.
BOS: Tuukka Rask (Likely) 20-8-4 2.45 GAA .918 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 6-5 win vs SJS
STL: Jordan Binnington (Not Confirmed) 13-2-1 1.75 GAA .931 SV% Last Game: 20 Saves in 5-2 loss vs DAL
If Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington does indeed get the start on Saturday, then it will be a tough time scoring any goals on the 25-year-old netminder. Binnington is a large reason for the Blues success as of late. Before Thursday’s loss to Dallas, Binnington won nine consecutive games for St. Louis, including three shutouts in that time span. With Jake Allen struggling, expect Binnington to be on his game once again today.
With the solid play of Binnington in the Blues sweater, the Bruins have a solid goaltender as well. Tuukka Rask has secured a point for the Bruins in his last fourteen games played and is currently boasting a six-game winning streak. Rask did have a rough game against a tough San Jose Sharks squad, but he will be looking to help Boston win number eight in a row.
Vladimir Tarasenko was having a poor season when it began, even to the point where his name appeared in some trade rumours. However, the Russian forward recently just had his fourteen-game point streak snapped but returned with yet another point in the loss to the Stars. From January 19th to February 17th, Tarasenko had 12-11-23 totals in the fourteen games. The solid play has boosted him to have the second-most points on the Blues with 27-25-52 totals in 59 games played.
After an extended slump of no goals or points, forward Jake DeBrusk is on fire as of late, scoring in each of his last five games, scoring ten points total in that span. DeBrusk has been a great assistance to the second-line and has helped add offence with the absence of David Pastrnak who remains out of the lineup with a thumb injury. The Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native now has 19-10-29 numbers in fifty-two games.
Even though he is not meant to put up high numbers, defenceman Joel Edmundson has no points in his last four games and was a -3 rating against Dallas. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Edmundson has only 2-7-9 numbers with a +3 rating in 53 games this year for St. Louis.
John Moore most likely will be a healthy scratch for the Bruins once again and that has unfortunately become an unsettling trend for the 28-year-old defenceman. Moore signed a five-year contract with Boston in this past off-season and is getting paid $2,750,000 for each of those seasons. For a player getting that term, he should not be getting scratched night in and night out. But in his last five games played, Moore only has one point and only has ten points in forty-seven games on the season to go along with a -3 rating.
- D Zdeno Chara is one goal away (199) from 200 career NHL goals
- F Patrice Bergeron is three points away (790) from tying Wayne Cashman (793) for 6th most points in Bruins history
- F Patrice Bergeron is one even-strength goal away (203) from passing Peter McNab (203) for sole possession of 8th most even-strength goals in Bruins history
- F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (24) from tying Rick Middleton (25) for most SHG in Bruins history
- G Tuukka Rask is 38 saves away (12,337) from tying Eddie Johnston (12,375) for most saves in Bruins history
St. Louis Blues:
- F Vladimir Tarasenko is one goal away (205) from tying David Backes (206) for 6th most goals in Blues history
- F Vladimir Tarasenko is one hat-trick away (4) from taking sole possession of 6th most hat-tricks in Blues history
Bruins vs Blues Outlook
This will be the second of two meetings between the Bruins and Blues this season, with Boston taking the first game back on January 17th in a 5-2 victory. Torey Krug, former-Blue David Backes, Chris Wagner, Brad Marchand, and Sean Kuraly scored the five goals for Boston while Tuukka Rask made twenty-six stops in goal to tie Tiny Thompson for most wins in Bruins history.
For David Backes, this will be the fifth time that he plays against his former NHL team. In the previous four games against St. Louis, Backes has three goals, averaging just under fifteen minutes per game. Today, Backes will have a new linemate to hopefully add to that total. Newly-acquired forward Charlie Coyle is expected to make his debut in a Bruins sweater today with Joakim Nordstrom and Backes on his wings. Coyle will look to make a solid first impression since joining the club on Wednesday.
Boston still has the second-best power-play in the National Hockey League, scoring on 26.5% of the power-plays that they have been handed. On the road trip so far, the Bruins have a 23.1% accuracy on the man-advantage, even without their top power-play scorer, David Pastrnak in the lineup. St. Louis on the other hand, has a 19.1% success rate on the PP, but in the month of February, they have a 17.6% success rate.
On the penalty-kill side of things, the Bruins have been lights out in February, killing off 86.1% of the penalties they take, the sixth-best in February. St. Louis is not far off from that, though, having an 85.7% success rate while shorthanded and they will look to silence the B’s power-play with that today.
Puck drop is scheduled for 4pm EST at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Below are the lines from yesterday’s practice. Expect Head Coach Bruce Cassidy to make a decision on whether Peter Cehlarik or Joakim Nordstrom is the winger to play alongside Charlie Coyle today.