Bruins Game 19 Preview: Dallas Stars

Rask Stars

(Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

A Boston Bruins team that has lost four of its six starting defensemen to injuries is set to take on the Stars in Dallas on Friday night. Boston most recently dropped their date with the Colorado Avalanche. A 3-2 lead turned into a 6-3 loss, and the Bruins have most likely spent a fair share of their Thursday watching film.

Meanwhile, the Stars are coming off a loss of their own with the Columbus Blue Jackets claiming a 2-1 victory over the team. Dallas has not played since Monday so they will hope that their freshness can put an end to the two-game slide they a currently enduring.

Who’s Hot?

Jake DeBrusk notched two goals on Wednesday and now has four tallies in his last four games. Combined with his two most recent helpers, that’s six points in five games. David Krejci, who centers DeBrusk on the second line, is on a five-game point streak with seven assists in that span. Though he hasn’t scored a goal since Oct. 23rd, with DeBrusk now finding his game, there is hope that Krejci will receive the same quality assists that he has dished out thus far.

Before his streak was broken against Colorado, Torey Krug had a four-game point streak with five assists to start the month of November. He is still searching for his first goal of the 2018-19 campaign, but with time on the top defensive unit this weekend, Krug will likely find the back of the net sooner rather than later.

Krug Stars

(Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)

Alexander Radulov is currently on a tear, ranked fourth on the team in production despite only appearing in eight of Dallas’ 18 games thus far. During that time he has notched six goals and six assists for 12 total points, more recently scoring three goals and two assists in his last five games.

Who’s Not?

Former Bruin Tyler Seguin is in the house which always comes with a hint of resentment for Boston fans – whether that is toward the player or the decision made years ago to trade him. Seguin has only managed three points in his last six games. The Bruins were able to keep him off the scoresheet in their first meeting with Dallas this season; a game the boys in black and gold won 2-1 in overtime.

Anders Bjork has continued to struggle. Though he clearly has the speed and offensive skill to contribute to Boston’s attempt to pressure their opponents, the youngster has lacked execution and thus only has three points in 16 games. The Bruins’ depth, in general, has been lackluster. A skilled young winger like Bjork could very well grab the shovel and starting digging Boston’s bottom-two lines out of the hole they’ve found themselves in.

Bruins vs. Stars Outlook

The Bruins are battered and bruised on the blue line. Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton will be making their NHL debuts on Friday. Clifton will be getting minutes on the top pair with Krug while Zboril will be delegated third-pair duties with Steven Kampfer. This bumps Jeremy Lauzon up the second pair with Matt Grzelcyk.

The Stars need more production from their first line, especially Seguin who leads his team in assists and points so far this season. They will also need their depth to step up with a number of players out with injuries including John Klingberg, Marc Methot, and Devin Shore.

Meanwhile, Boston defense is a huge concern. Three rookies who weren’t expected to get much time – if any – at the NHL level this season now have a heavy workload on their shoulders. This means Tuukka Rask, who will be starting for the first time since his leave of absence, will need to bring his best performance of the season thus far.

 

Bruins Game 18 Preview: Colorado Avalanche

Bruins Avalanche 1

(Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

Go get yourself a cup of coffee because the Boston Bruins are on the road facing the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at 10:00pm EST.

The Bruins are fresh off a four-game homestand in which they went 3-1-0. They wrapped it up with two deafening victories over the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1) and Vegas Golden Knights (4-1). Meanwhile, the Avalanche have an 8-6-3 record which puts them in fifth place within the Central Division.

Who’s Hot?

David Pastrnak tallied his second hat trick of the season against Toronto and has recorded six points in his last two games. The stellar weekend for the player and the team pegs him with 16 goals and seven assists through the first 17 games of the season. In fact, Pastrnak has tallied at least one goal in almost every game Boston has won – the exception being the Bruins’ victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 25th.

David Krejci has been finding his stride in November. The centerman has a four-game point streak going with six assists during that run. He helped get Jake DeBrusk going who scored two goals against the Vancouver Canucks last week. Krejci is also a big reason why Joakim Nordstrom has seen success on the second line.

Colorado Avalanche v Boston Bruins

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Jaroslav Halak has also been stellar, racking up two wins over the weekend to improve his record to 6-1-2. While making 79 saves, Halak only gave up two goals which propelled Boston over both Toronto and Vegas.

The Avalanche, much like the Bruins, have a fierce first line. There are many (mostly outside of New England) who believe Colorado’s top trio of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog are the best active line in the NHL. Rantanen’s 16 assists have helped set up 11 goals each for MacKinnon and Landeskog. In total, the lethal trio has come up with 68 points in 17 games.

Who’s Not?

Boston’s depth has shown signs of life, but not enough. David Backes and Noel Acciari are both still searching for their first point of the season. Meanwhile, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork, who have been challenged to pad Boston’s offense with a scoring touch on the third line, have only combined for eight points.

Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner have both struggled on the fourth line themselves. While able to play with intensity, Kuraly went 11 games without a point until he notched an assist on Sunday. Meanwhile, Wagner hasn’t etched his name on the scoresheet in 12 games.

Semyon Varlamov, who will be starting for the Avalanche on Wednesday, has a 5-5-2 record to start the year. While his .926 SV% is certainly solid, his 2.26 GAA indicates that a high-powered offense – such as Boston’s – could potentially put up a number of goals on the scoreboard.

Bruins vs. Avalanche Outlook

It will be a battle of the first lines on Wednesday when the Bruins and Avalanche go head-to-head. However, both lines could very well be held at bay in this matchup. Colorado is currently ranked 9th in the league with 50 goals against while the Bruins are 1st in the league in that category having only given up 40 goals.

While Varlamov has been streaky, he is very capable of standing on his head for his team and will have to do so on Wednesday if the Avalanche want a win on home ice. Meanwhile, Halak will have to have another great performance to net his team a win.

Jakub Zboril was called up from Providence and could see playing time in the near future. While he isn’t expected to play on Wednesday, it indicates how battered Boston’s defense is and the lengths they must go to in order to patch up the holes. On the bright side, Kevan Miller is traveling with the team on their road trip and could make an appearance in black and gold as soon as this weekend.

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Bruins Game 17 Preview: Vegas Golden Knights

Chara Vegas

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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.

Who’s Hot?

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.

Who’s Not?

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.

Heinen Vegas

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Bruins Game 15 Preview: Vancouver Canucks

Krug Canucks

Source: Derek Leung/Getty Images North America)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins will defend home ice on Thursday in a matchup with the Vancouver Canucks. Though they are 1st in the Pacific Division with a 9-6-1 record, the Canucks have 53 goals against through 16 games this season – pegging them 26th in the league in that statistic.

The Bruins sport an 8-4-2 record and are currently ranked 3rd in the Atlantic Division. They defeated the Dallas Stars on Monday in a 2-1 grind that required overtime to settle the affair. Boston will look to string together two wins for just the third time this season. Meanwhile, Vancouver will look to avoid dropping two games in a row for the third time in the young campaign.

Who’s Hot?

David Pastrnak is currently tied with Alexander Ovechkin for the most goals through the early stages of the 2018-19 season. Four of his 12 goals have come on the power play and he has been a focal point of Boston’s offense – the Bruins tend to look to Pastrnak in key situations such as the power play and extended zone time. It’s a pretty good strategy given Pastrnak’s 20.7 shooting percentage through the first 14 games of the campaign.

Brad Marchand scored the game-winning overtime goal against the Dallas Stars on Monday and has proven to be one of Boston’s most-clutch performers in history. Though he has just five goals this season, Marchand has focused more on his playmaking abilities by tallying 11 helpers. He does lead the Bruins in penalty minutes, however, with 46. The next highest is that of Zdeno Chara who has just 14. Marchand needs to do a better job of staying out of the box so he can continue to contribute to Boston’s offense.

Marchand Canucks

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

If you’ve been paying attention to hockey this season, you’ve probably heard of Elias Pettersson. The rookie is taking the NHL by storm with 10 goals and six assists in 10 appearances. The 20-year-old is threatening to become a superstar for years to come and leads all rookies in scoring. Pettersson is leading the charge in terms of Vancouver’s offense.

Bo Horvat, who scored the overtime goal against Boston in the two teams’ first matchup of the season, has also been lethal with seven goals and four assists in 16 games. Another threat comes in the form of Brock Boeser who has four goals and seven assists in just 13 games. All three of the aforementioned Canucks are ages 23 or under. Speed is a huge part of their game, so Boston’s battered defense must be up to the challenge.

Who’s Not?

Boston’s depth is still in question. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Pastrnak, and Marchand are the only Bruins players with point totals in the double-digits to start the year. The next highest producer in terms of forwards comes in the form of Jake DeBrusk who has three goals and an assist. The lines have consistently been juggled, but an answer has yet to be found. Once again, this a problem Boston needs to solve quickly. The first line is basically carrying the team at this point, and if the Bruins can’t find a solution, they won’t be making a push for the Stanley Cup anytime soon.

Krejci Canucks

Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Brandon Sutter hasn’t had a tremendous season thus far for the Canucks. He only appeared in 61 games last season but managed to tally 11 goals and 15 assists. So far this season, Sutter has just four points and is a minus-eight. The former Penguin needs to find a way to reverse his woes as Vancouver’s depth continues to struggle much like Boston’s.

Bruins vs. Canucks Outlook

Both Charlie McAvoy and Kevan Miller are still out with injuries, leaving holes on Boston’s defense. Luckily, the Bruins acquired Steven Kampfer who has been able to fill in as a solid third-pair defenseman. Matt Grzelcyk has also returned to action after missing time to an injury himself which bodes well for the Bruins’ ability to move the puck through the neutral zone.

Jaroslav Halak will get the start for Boston on Thursday night. Halak is 4-1-2 with a 1.45 GAA and a .952 SV%, leading the league in both statistics. With that in mind, the goaltender – who many assumed would be a backup entering the 2018-19 season – is an early frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy.

The Canucks will also be riding their first line for the most part as they wait for their depth to kick in. Pettersson is their biggest threat and will likely tally at least one point before the contest is done.

If I were a betting man, I would be putting my money down on a high-scoring affair. Halak has been solid, but Boston’s defense is battered and may not be able to keep up with Vancouver’s young guns. On the other hand, Vancouver has given up more goals against than most teams in the league which bodes well for Boston’s top line.

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Bruins Game 13 Preview: Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne, David Backes

Credit: AP Photos

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins will travel to Tennessee on Saturday to take on a tough customer in the Nashville Predators. The Predators are currently the NHL with a 10-3-0 record good enough for 20 points.

The Bruins, on the other hand, are part of a three-way tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. The B’s sport a 7-3-2 record which makes for a successful month of October – especially considering the injury bug they have been handed.

Who’s Hot?

Boston’s first line was firing on all cylinders once again in their game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. David Pastrnak registered a goal while Brad Marchand tallied two. Meanwhile, Patrice Bergeron assisted all three of those goals. There’s no question that the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line is one of the best – if not the best – in the business right now.

Jaroslav Halak has been stellar to start the 2018-19 season and will be getting the call for the second game in a row on Saturday. He is 4-0-2 as of now with a whopping .947 SV% and 1.51 GAA. Even with a struggling bottom-nine, Halak has been able to rob goals and thus games from his opponents. The Bruins will need him to continue standing on his head if they hope to skate by the Predators on Saturday.

The Predators have forwards almost as lethal as Boston’s top line. Ryan Johansen leads the team in assists with 13 while his linemate, Filip Forsberg, has tallied a team-leading 10 goals to start the season. Viktor Arvidsson follows closely behind with eight goals himself.

But the Predators have a number of lines that have been contributing their fair share thus far. Second-line center Kyle Turris, for example, has three goals and eight assists. Even the notorious Zac Rinaldo has tallied a goal. But it’s not just Nashville’s offense that is off to a hot start, it’s their defense as well.

Out of their top-10 producers thus far, the Predators’ top-two defensive pairs make up four of those spots. P.K. Subban leads the defense with two goals and eight assists, but he is closely followed by his fellow defensemen. The good doesn’t end with their production – they have been able to play shutdown defense thus far and are a huge reason why Nashville is ranked third in the league in goals against this season.

Who’s Not?

Boston’s depth has still failed to show much life. In fact, with David Backes ready to return on Saturday, the Bruins sent Ryan Donato down to the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Other youngsters such as Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen, and Jake DeBrusk haven’t met expectations. The former has just a goal and an assist thus far while the latter two players have tallied only three points apiece.

The Bruins will also need more out of their veterans who have also failed to do much. With Backes returning, perhaps he can spark some life in the B’s. However, the 34-year-old failed to register a single point in his seven appearances prior to suffering the injury that has sidelined him for the past five games. Boston will need their depth to get going if they hope to defeat a very deep Nashville team.

Bruins vs. Predators Outlook

The Predators will be everything but an easy opponent. The Bruins will need their first line to lead the charge which will be tough – they are pinned against arguably the best defense in the NHL at this juncture. Boston will also need Halak to have another stellar game if the Bruins want to survive the offensive onslaught they’re sure to endure.

Marchand Predators

Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Pekka Rinne has returned to action. While Nashville’s starter is unclear at the time of publishing, many expect him to get the start – it is his birthday, after all. In order to win, the Predators need to quite simply keep doing what they’ve been doing. The Bruins have been a very hot-and-cold team to start the 2018-19 season, and they’ll need to find their A-game if they want to claim victory over the best team in the NHL.

Bruins Game 12 Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

Marchand Hurricanes

Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins will be on the road Tuesday night when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Coming off a 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, the Bruins sport a 6-3-2 record as they continue their quest for playoff contention. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have been a big surprise this year – though they were originally expected to struggle, Carolina has a record of 6-4-1 entering play on Tuesday and find themselves in 2nd place within the Metropolitan Division.

Who’s Hot?

Jaroslav Halak will get the start for Boston on Tuesday. He has yet to lose in regulation early on in the 2018-19 campaign featuring a record of 3-0-2. Halak is coming off a 26-save shutout performance against the Philadelphia Flyers last week and should give the Hurricanes a tough time despite the Bruins being short a number of defensemen.

David Krejci has found his game and now has two goals and seven assists in 11 games this season. He has only failed to produce a point in four games this season and has been trusted with more ice time as the year has progressed – Krejci saw 21:32 of play in the game against Montreal which is the most he’s seen thus far. The Bruins certainly hope he can help return Jake DeBrusk to his rookie-year form.

Sebastian Aho has been a force to be reckoned with this season. He has potted four goals and 12 helpers and is looking to continue an 11-game point streak dating back to Carolina’s very first game this year. He will be looking to continue that streak against a slim Bruins defensive core.

Who’s Not?

Yet again, it seems Boston’s depth has been failing them. Outside of Krejci, DeBrusk and Danton Heinen lead the Bruins’ bottom-three lines in production with three points apiece. Noel Acciari has been a disappointment early in the 2018-19 season with no points and is a minus-6. Ryan Donato has also failed to get going just yet with one goal in 10 games. The Bruins will need their bottom lines to kick in some goals here and there. Even if they can’t do that, they need to win 50-50 battles and get some sustained pressure in the offensive zone to keep the momentum in their favor.

Acciari Hurricanes

Source: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images North America

Carolina’s fourth line has struggled thus far, though not as much as Boston’s. The Hurricane’s fourth line of Brock McGinn, Nicolas Roy, and Valentin Zykov have only come up with three points so far this year. It should be noted, however, that Roy will only be making his third appearance of the young season on Tuesday.

Bruins vs. Hurricanes Outlook

Hurricanes goaltender Scott Darling will be making his first start of the 2018-19 season in Tuesday night’s matchup. So will Bruins defenseman Torey Krug who missed the first 11 games of the campaign due to an ankle injury suffered in the preseason.

Charlie McAvoy has been placed on injured reserve which pens him as an unhealthy scratch. Meanwhile, Matt Grzelcyk was injured during the game against the Canadiens and is considered doubtful, and David Backes isn’t expected to return until Saturday’s date with the Nashville Predators. Kevan Miller also isn’t expected to see action on Tuesday though he has been back on the ice skating.

According to Boston’s line rushes, Jeremy Lauzon and Steven Kampfer will return as the team’s third defensive pair. With a weakened defensive unit, the Bruins will once again need to rely on Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, and John Moore to thwart the opposition’s top lines. Krug’s presence will certainly help the team out who has clearly struggled on the breakout in his absence.

Carolina will need to ride their top two lines in order to get past a very hot goaltender in Halak. Their third line has also been pitching in with goals of their own and will likely see a number of matchups against Boston’s Lauzon and Kampfer duo.

Both teams are coming off tough losses so you can bet it will be a grind out to determine the victor of Tuesday night’s game between the Bruins and Hurricanes.

Bruins Game 10 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers

 

Bruins Flyers

Credit: Associated Press

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

After defeating the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, the 5-2-2 Boston Bruins now turn their attention to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins are dealing with multiple injuries to Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller, and Urho Vaakanainen. In addition, David Backes has been sidelined by an illness.

The Flyers have been dealing with an injury bug as well. James van Riemsdyk was injured on October 6th and is expected to miss five-to-six weeks of action. More recently, Philadelphia lost Michal Neuvirth and Michael Raffl, both of whom are ruled out of Thursday’s contest.

The Bruins will also be hosting their Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Thursday evening. In support of the cause, the team will be wearing purple and pink colored jerseys during warmups.

Who’s Hot?

Patrice Bergeron is continuing to have a fantastic season. He racked up a goal and two assists against the Senators and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing his roll. With David Pastrnak, who had two goals and two assists on Tuesday, and Brad Marchand, who inked an assist against Ottawa, the Bruins’ first line is still chugging away and defending their title as the best trio in hockey.

Jaroslav Halak has had a good run with the Bruins thus far. The goaltender is 4-2-0 so far this season with a 1.74 GAA and .933 SV%. Halak has lost two games in a row – both in overtime – but the majority of the blame for those losses can certainly be pinned to the lack of offense by Boston’s forwards, not necessarily the goaltender. Halak will get the start against the Flyers on Thursday evening.

Jakub Voracek is off to a hot start himself. The 29-year-old leads all Flyers in scoring with three goals and nine assists while averaging 19 minutes of ice time per game. With Claude Giroux and Wayne Simonds as his linemates, Philadelphia has a pretty lethal first unit themselves.

Who’s Not?

It seems to be a running theme this season, but Boston’s depth has still fallen short of expectations. David Krejci is the only Bruins’ forward outside the first line to produce more than two points. That is a huge problem that needs to be sorted out. Boston has certainly been streaky to open the season, and that trend will continue until they get consistent scoring out of their bottom three lines.

Krejci Simmonds

Credit: Associated Press

Noel Acciari, in particular, hasn’t had a good 2018-19 season. The forward is a minus-five to start the year with zero production. He is ranked second in hits on the Bruins with 20 such encounters, but Acciari needs to find a way to win more shifts. His poor performance to-date is a huge reason why he is averaging less than 12 minutes per game.

Brian Elliott, who is expected to get the start on Thursday, has been on a cold streak. The netminder is 2-4-0 in seven starts this year, including a record of 1-3-0 in his last five appearances. Elliott has a 3.59 GAA and .882 SV% so far this season. In his career against the Bruins, the Flyer’s starter has gone 3-7-3 with a 3.16 GAA and .889 SV%.

Bruins vs. Flyers Outlook

The Bruins will have to keep the Flyers’ first line in check on Thursday night. This may be a tall task with injuries to four Boston defensemen. However, Jeremy Lauzon has been called up to replace the recently-concussed Vaakanainen and will see time on the B’s third defensive pair.

Likewise, Philadelphia will also have to key in on Boston’s top line. Bergeron, Pastrnak, and Marchand can get going in a heartbeat, and they only seem to get better as games progress. Elliott will need to have a strong bounce-back in order to net a victory. Likewise, Halak will have to erase the road trip he endured last week if he is to come up with a win.

The 4-5-0 Flyers would get back to a .500 win-percentage by defeating the Bruins, and you can expect them to play with desperation to achieve that goal. On the other hand, Boston has just returned home from a lackluster road trip, and proving that they are still a team to be reckoned with is a must. They will need to feel confident as they enter a big matchup against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, and defeating the Flyers on Thursday is an excellent way to do just that.

Bruins Recall Jeremy Lauzon on Emergency Basis

Lauzon 2

Source: nhl.com

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins have tapped Jeremy Lauzon on the shoulder in the wake of several injuries to the team’s defensive core. It will be the defenseman’s first NHL appearance.

The Bruins recently lost Charlie McAvoy and Kevan Miller which led to Urho Vaakanainen getting called up. Vaakanainen suffered an injury in Tuesday’s game against Ottawa, and so Boston has had to find another replacement via the Providence Bruins.

Jeremy Lauzon’s Career To-Date

Lauzon spent four seasons with the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In that span, the 52nd-overall pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft appeared in 200 contests, tallying 35 goals and 95 assists.

Since moving on to the AHL, Lauzon’s offensive production has been dialed back. This is to be expected with heightened competition in a league full of NHL prospects. With the Providence Bruins, the 21-year-old has appeared in 58 games in the last two seasons while producing two goals and nine assists.

Despite the lapse in offense, Lauzon has remained strong behind his own blue line. That is exactly the reason he received the call on Thursday – while he is still offensively gifted, it is not expected that Lauzon will notch many points during his first crack at NHL hockey. It seems as though he be playing on the third defensive pair alongside Steven Kampfer where he will need to thwart the Philadelphia Flyer’s bottom two lines.

Though Lauzon is strong on the breakout, any offensive production at this point would be a bonus. It would also be surprising if the defenseman gets reps on Boston’s special-teams units. The Bruins often go with four forwards on the power play and players like Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, John Moore, and Matt Grzelcyk will likely see time with the man-advantage. On the penalty kill, it is likely that the Bruins will ice Chara, Carlo, Moore, and Kampfer. They may test Lauzon in these instances, but the aforementioned players will likely see most of the action on special teams – Grzelcyk would likely be above Lauzon in this regard as well.

What This Means for Boston’s Defense

Lauzon getting the call over other prospects such as Jakub Zboril indicates the former’s spot in the pecking order. This also gives the young defenseman his chance to move up on the totem pole. Torey Krug and Miller both skated on Thursday afternoon, but they could still be a few games out of seeing playing time. In fact, Miller was placed on injured reserve so his timetable for return is unclear. This means Lauzon may have a handful of games to prove his worth and could surpass Vaakanainen in Boston’s defensive hierarchy.

Jeremy Lauzon, Jayson Megna

Credit: Associated Press

It also means the Bruins’ defense is quite obviously spread thin. Their performance as a whole will be affected by the losses of Krug, Miller, and McAvoy. Those injuries have resulted in some unfamiliar pairs, those pairs being Chara with Carlo and Moore with Grzelcyk. If the next-man-up is to see struggles, Zboril could get the call with Lauzon sent back down to Rhode Island.

It will be interesting to see how Lauzon performs in his first few shifts on NHL ice. Bruins fans everywhere will surely be pulling for him, but whether or not he is ready for the challenge has yet to be seen.

Bruins Game 9 Preview: Ottawa Senators

NELA5530.JPG

(Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

It doesn’t take much to recognize that the Bruins are currently in a rut. Boston has only salvaged two points in the first three games of their four-game road trip. The Canadian expedition comes to its completion in Ottawa on Tuesday night when the B’s take on the Senators for the second time this season.

The Senators are currently on a three-game winning streak, most recently topping the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 4-3 in overtime. Since losing to the Bruins in Boston’s home opener, the Sens have suffered from a number of injuries. They have lost Brady Tkachuk, Alex Formenton, Cody Ceci, and Max McCormick since then – the latter of whom’s status is unclear for Tuesday night’s matchup.

Who’s Hot?

Brandon Carlo has been a steady force this season. With a plethora of injuries to Boston’s defensive core, Carlo has been bumped up to the first D-pair to play alongside Zdeno Chara. Though his offense could use some work (which was highlighted in Boston’s overtime period against the Vancouver Canucks), the 21-year-old has held his own in the Bruins’ own end of the rink. He will need to continue his shut-down defense if the Bruins are to close out a hot Ottawa team.

David Krejci hasn’t been all too bad thus far. In his last five games, the centerman has registered a goal and four assists. More is expected from him as the season moves along, but it is a sign that Boston’s second line isn’t far from kicking into gear. Bruce Cassidy is still juggling the bottom-9, and there is hope that chemistry will be struck sooner rather than later.

Krejci:Senators

Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Chabot has been a force to be reckoned with for the Senators. The 21-year-old leads Ottawa in scoring with two goals and seven assists in seven games. He has also tallied five assists in his last five games while staying dominant in his own zone. The Bruins will have to taper his production which is no easy task as Chabot averages nearly 22 minutes per game.

Chris Tierney has the same stat line as Chabot but has registered a goal and six assists in his last five appearances. The 24-year-old was shipped to Ottawa as a result of the Erik Karlsson deal and has failed to disappoint thus far. Tierney potted 17 goals and 23 assists for an even 40 points last year with the San Jose Sharks and is well on his way to breaking that threshold this season. He has tallied four assists on the power play throughout the 2018-19 campaign so Boston’s penalty killers will need to cut off the passing lanes when Tierney has the puck.

Who’s Not?

Tuukka Rask has struggled this season. He is 2-2-0 to start the year with a .875 SV% and 4.08 GAA. In his last start against the Calgary Flames, Rask gave up four goals on 28 shot attempts. There has been “The Great Goalie Debate” in Boston the past two seasons including speculation as to whether or not Rask will continue to be the Bruins’ go-to goalie or if a backup, such as Jaroslav Halak, will rise to the starting role. Though it’s early in the season, many believe Rask’s start on Tuesday night will impact his role on the team.

Rask:Senators

Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

Outside of their top line and defensive pair, Boston has only seen 26 points out of their depth this season. The bottom-9 lines and bottom-four members of their defensive core really need to step up. Otherwise, the Bruins can get used to losing close games like they did against Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver last week.

Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan has yet to return to his Anaheim ways. The power-forward only has a goal and three assists so far this season. Much more is expected from him, especially if the Senators want to add to their 4-2-1 record on Tuesday against Boston.

Bruins vs. Senators Outlook

Both teams have been plagued with injuries – the Bruins will not have Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, or David Backes for Tuesday night’s matchup. Boston will have to key in on Chabot who has been outstanding when breaking out of his own end. This will make the neutral zone a key battleground – whoever raises their banner above that region of the ice will most likely net themselves a win.

Miller:Senators

(Source: tobet.eu)

Rask is going to need to steal a few goals from the Senators as well. With a battered defense that has already failed the goaltender on a few occasions, No. 40 will have to bring not his A-game but his A-plus game. Otherwise, Boston may pick up their fourth consecutive loss and escape the road trip with just two or three points.

Ottawa, like the rest of the Bruins’ opponents, will have to shut down the Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak line. Whenever Boston’s top line produces, the team tends to win. Rarely do you see that unit produce just one goal in a game, so thwarting them early will be key to a Senator’s victory.

Bruins Game 8 Preview: Vancouver Canucks

Krug Canucks

Source: Derek Leung/Getty Images North America)

By: Drew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter: @doobshmoob

The Boston Bruins have had a rough start to their four-game road trip. They fell to the Calgary Flames 5-2 before being edged out by the Edmonton Oilers in overtime on Thursday. Entering play on Saturday night, the Bruins will try to turn things around as they look to go 2-1-1 on their first extended road trip of the 2018-19 season.

In their way is the Vancouver Canucks. After falling flat last year, the Canucks are 4-3-0 to start the new campaign and currently rest in second place within the Pacific Division.

Who’s Hot?

The Bruins’ first line, as always, is leading the charge on offense. Patrice Bergeron has notched six goals and seven assists in as many games thus far, followed by Brad Marchand with two goals and 10 helpers and David Pastrnak who has eight goals and three assists to his name. Despite the depth’s struggles, it seems the trio will stick together for the time being.

Elias Pettersson has taken the hockey world by storm early on this season. His five goals and three assists in five games had him pegged as a Calder Trophy frontrunner. However, Pettersson is dealing with a concussion and has been placed on the IR by the Canucks and could miss one to two weeks of action.

Another youngster by the name of Bo Horvat will have to fill Pettersson’s void for the time being. The centerman has registered four goals and an assist in seven games and has averaged almost 18 minutes per game thus far. In the Canucks’ most recent game against the Winnipeg Jets, Horvat got over 19 minutes of ice time. Similar numbers can be expected against the Bruins with Pettersson out.

One more high note for Vancouver is the play of Sven Baertschi. The 26-year-old has started his fourth full season with the Canucks with two goals and three assists in seven games. He’s been averaging more than 16 minutes per game this season, and he will certainly have an asterisk next to his name in the Bruins’ locker room.

Who’s Not?

Boston’s depth has really struggled. There is a five-point gap between Pastrnak’s 11 points and the next leading Bruin, David Krejci, who has six points thus far. It’s a big reason why the boys in black and gold haven’t been all too consistent so far this season. Bruce Cassidy continues to juggle the lines in order to find something that will work in the bottom-9. He and the Bruins will need to find some chemistry sooner rather than later if they want to continue battling for Atlantic Division supremacy.

Krejci Canucks

Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

Tuukka Rask has also been struggling this season. The goaltender is 2-2-0 in his first four starts of the 2018-19 campaign and features a stat line of a 4.08 GAA and .875 SV%. It can certainly be argued that the defense has let him down at times via turnovers and poor coverage, but Rask needs to be a lot sharper – especially if the Bruins plan on making a postseason run. However, Rask had a cold start last season as well, so there is hope that he can turn things around and wind up having a stellar year overall.

Jacob Markstrom has had a rough go early in the season as well. The goaltender is 1-2-0 thus far with a 4.03 GAA and .883 SV%. He is expected to get the start against Boston on Saturday, and the Bruins’ first line may be able to capitalize on his early struggles.

Bruins vs. Canucks Outlook

The Bruins will need to take advantage of a so-so Vancouver team on Saturday. They certainly don’t want to drop three games in a row to teams who are only slightly above average at best. I’d expect the depth to show up tonight against a cold goaltender like Markstrom.

Speaking of goaltending, Halak will need to bring his A-game as he gets the start tonight. Torey Krug is still out with his ankle injury while Kevan Miller, who was injured against Edmonton, doesn’t look as if he will take the ice on Saturday. Charlie McAvoy is also dealing with an injury from Boston’s first game against the Oilers last week and is ruled out for Saturday’s contest.

Urho Vaakanainen has been called up from Providence on an emergency basis and will certainly get some minutes on a bottom-pairing. The Bruins could really use a win, but a battered defense could be their downfall. It will likely be a high-scoring affair, so look for Boston to ride its offense as they attempt to eclipse the Canucks.

Below are highlights from the last time these two teams matched up on February 17th, 2018 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.