By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Winners of five straight and points in each of their last ten – the red-hot Boston Bruins are back on the ice for the second time in as many nights – taking on the New York Islanders. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
Don’t Change What’s Working
Regardless of the smaller divisions and whatnot, you cannot deny that the Boston Bruins are having a great start to the 2021 season, especially considering the doubts heading into the year following a challenging offseason. The Bruins sit second in official league standings with a 10-1-2 record, but are first in the NHL for points percentage (.846%).
While some of the biggest concerns for the Bruins was surrounding the defensive side of the puck with the always-talked-about Chara and Krug departures, the B’s have been pretty solid defensively through 12 games. According to NaturalStatTrick, at 5v5, Boston has allowed the least amount of shots against per 60 minutes (22.88), the second-lowest xGA/60 (1.76), and have the third-highest CF% in the league.
As well, the Bruins have best penalty-kill in the NHL, killing off 89.8% of their penalties while scoring the second-most shorthanded goals (3), behind only the Montreal Canadiens (7) and tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets. On the other side of things, the Bruins have the seventh-best power-play at 28.6%.
D Moore Makes Season Debut
John Moore, 30, was signed by the Bruins to a five year, $13.75 million ($2.75 million AAV) back in 2018, but has only played a combined total of 85 regular-season games for the Black and Gold, 24 of which in the 2019-20 season.
With Matt Grzelcyk battling an injury once again, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has decided the second game of a back-to-back is the right time to slot in Moore in replace of Connor Clifton, who logged 16:37 of ice-time in last night’s 1-0 win over the New York Rangers.
“It’s something we’ve considered with the back-to-back,” said Cassidy. “Cliffy has had a lot of rest when he was out for [Matt Grzelcyk], but it gets Johnny in a game. He’s been working hard. We feel tonight is a good night to do it and we’ll go from there.“
Chance at Redemption
Having a 10-1-2 record means two things. One, the Bruins are an elite team. And two, there is only one team who has defeated the B’s in regulation time. That team, of course, being the New York Islanders.
Semyon Varlomov stopped all 27 shots the Bruins threw at him while Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the lone goal in the third period to give the Isles a 1-0 win. That game bumped the Islanders to 2-1-0 record while Boston dropped to 1-1-1.
Since that game, the Islanders have gone 3-3-3 – nothing compared to Boston’s impressive 9-0-1 stretch since that January 18th game. Right now, New York sits in the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division, tied in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins (5th), but have more regulation-plus-overtime wins to bump them to 4th. This is the perfect time for Boston to avenge their loss earlier in the season and give them a four-point lead on Philadelphia for first in the division.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – Smith
DeBrusk – Coyle – Bjork
Frederic – Kuraly – Wagner
Lauzon – McAvoy
Moore – Carlo
Zboril – Miller
Other than John Moore entering the lineup and Tuukka Rask getting the start, tonight’s Bruins lineup is identical to last night against the Rangers. Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller will look to continue off of their excellent final minute against the Blueshirts that secured the B’s the 1-0 victory.