By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
After a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, November 24th, the Bruins set the NHL record for the most consecutive wins on home ice to start a season with 12 straight. The Bruins are looking to extend their record with the next three games on home ice before they head out west. The Bruins will face some of the best teams in the NHL, with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, and Las Vegas Golden Knights in town. Boston will also play Colorado and Vegas again as they head to the Western Conference next week. Head coach Jim Montgomery shared his satisfaction with how his team played against the Hurricanes and how he expects that trend to continue with the upcoming schedule.
“I think they get really focused and excited for the games, and I think you saw that against Carolina. I never thought our team stopped working in that game,” Montgomery said. “And you’re going to see that again with Tampa Bay, Colorado and Vegas coming up.”
The following two weeks for the Bruins will be a true test, given the talent they will be playing against. With the Bruins’ track record this season, Bruins’ fans can expect an exciting week of hockey ahead of them.
Tampa Bay Lightning (November 29th)
For the past three years, the Lightning have been crowned as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference with three Stanley Cup Finals appearances and two Stanley Cup championships over that span. The two teams already faced one another back on November 21st, when the Bruins were victorious in a 5-3 win. Boston was outshot 9-0 through the first eight minutes of the first period and were immediately put on their heels. The Bruins seemed to catch their footing in the second period, scoring four unanswered goals en route to their win in Florida. One of the goals came off the stick of Brad Marchand, who scored to earn Patrice Bergeron’s 1,000th career point on an assist.
Tampa Bay will be playing their second game of a back-to-back in Boston tonight, while the Bruins last played on Friday, November 25th, and have had the last three days off. The leading scorer for Tampa Bay, Nikita Kucherov, has eleven points in his previous five games and 34 points on the season. As Bruins fans know, the Lightning are never a team to be slept on, given the talent they have throughout their lineup. Despite goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy having a down year for his standards, he’s been known to steal games for Tampa Bay. The Lightning are 13-7-1 on the year and currently hold the third seed in the Atlantic Division.
Colorado Avalanche (December 3rd and December 7th)
Following Boston’s matchup against the Lightning, they will play the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche this weekend. The two have yet to be acquainted this year, but they will meet only two times this season over a week. Colorado has had the edge over Boston recently as the Bruins are 3-6-1 in their last ten meetings. Last season, Boston was 1-0-1 versus the eventual 2022 Stanley Cup champs.
It appears as though the Avalanche haven’t taken much of a step backward after losing former starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper and second-line center Nazem Kadri. Alexandar Georgiev, now the starting goaltender for Colorado, ranks second behind Linus Ullmark (.935 SV%) in save percentage for goalies that have played at least seven games or more this year with a .933 SV%. The former New York Rangers goaltender has been spectacular for the Avalanche, as he’s 8-2-0 over his last ten starts. Even without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who is expected to miss nearly half the regular season with a knee injury, the team seems to be flying on all cylinders. The team is extraordinarily dangerous on the power play, clicking at a lethal 33.8% efficiency, with 23 power play goals this season. Mikko Rantanen currently leads all skaters with 29 points, while superstars Nathan MacKinnon (28 points) and Cale Makar (21 points) trail just behind him.
While the Bruins are off to a terrific start, they have yet to play a team that plays with such a high pace like the Avalanche do. Even though the team is shorthanded with Landeskog, Valeri Nichuskin, and Evan Rodrigues out with injury, the Bruins will need to play at their best in the two upcoming games against the Avalanche.
Las Vegas Golden Knights (December 5th and December 11th)
The Las Vegas Golden Knights are back to being one of the dominant teams in the Western Conference after missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in their six-year franchise history. The Golden Knights currently stand atop the Pacific Division with a 17-6-1 record while also being 10-1-1 on away ice, which is the best road record in the NHL. Much of Vegas’s success this year is due to the fact they’re receiving contributions throughout their roster. The team is second in the NHL in five-on-five goals with 56, and they have ten players who have over ten points this season. While leading scorers Jack Eichel (26 points) and Alex Pietrangelo (21 points) have carried the play offensively for Vegas, their backbone, surprisingly, has been rookie Logan Thompson. The 25-year-old goaltender has been spectacular, with 12 wins and a .921 SV% on the season. Considering Robin Lehner’s season-ending injury, having Thompson playing so well has been a blessing for Vegas.
The Bruins have gotten the best of the Golden Knights since they were founded in the 2017-18 season. Boston is 6-2 (3-1 on home ice) while outscoring Vegas 23-18 over their eight games played. When the Golden Knights visit the TD Garden next week, it will be the first time Bruins’ former head coach Bruce Cassidy returns to Boston since he was fired in early June. As December 5th approaches, Cassidy’s return will start to pick up headlines, given the controversy of his firing during the summer. Regardless of fans’ opinions of Cassidy, Boston’s decision to fire Cassidy benefited both the Bruins and the Golden Knights.