One night after a 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Newark, the Boston Bruins will look to win their second game in a row when they host the Calgary Flames at TD Garden for a 7 p.m. faceoff.
The Bruins won the last meeting over the Flames last February up in Calgary. This will be the only meeting between the two teams for the 2011-12 season.
Tuukka Rask will most likely get the start for the Black and Gold, while Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to get the nod between the pipes for Calgary.
More after the jump…
Puck Drop: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Expected Goalie Matchup: Rask vs. Kiprusoff
What to watch for (Bruins)
As the calendar turned to 2012, the Bruins now find themselves in their busiest part of the schedule. This will be the second game in as many nights, and with a Stanley Cup rematch looming with the Vancouver Canucks Saturday afternoon, Thursday’s contest could be one of those “trap games.”
While Calgary has seen its struggles through the first half of the season — 18-18-5 through 41 games — they have a great opportunity to knock off the defending champs coming off a game the night before. There is a ton of hype for the Bruins’ rematch as part of “Hockey Day in New England” — that also includes a Hockey East doubleheader at Fenway Park (Vermont vs. UMass and Maine vs. UNH) — and the team knows they can’t look too far ahead.
Thursday’s game provides an opportunity for the Bruins to distance themselves from the rest of the league. They currently sit one point behind the New York Rangers (who also face a trap game vs. Florida Thursday just three days after their Winter Classic victory over the Flyers) for first place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.
That said, Boston will need a complete effort Thursday. They got contributions from all four lines in Wednesday’s win, and a similar result from the 12 forwards will go a long way.
What to watch for (Flames)
There’s a lot of speculation up in Calgary over whether the Flames will be sellers come trade deadline time. Kiprusoff and Jarome Iginla have been rumored for months — if not years — on being put on the trade block and the team needs to get younger.
While the trade deadline is a month away, there is still work to be done for GM Jay Feaster and company. A win by the Flames could be just what the doctor ordered as they try to push their way towards a playoff berth for the first time since the 2008-09 season. A loss could provide more questions than answers, however.
Calgary comes in losers of four straight. A fifth consecutive defeat could provide a bleaker outlook for the rest of the 2011-12 season.
Gameday links (Bruins)
Despite backing up Tim Thomas, Rask, an RFA at the end of the year, seems pretty happy in Boston and wants to sign a contract extension with the team (James Murphy/ESPN Boston)
After scoring his 10th goal of the season Wednesday night, Nathan Horton is hoping to get better as the season progresses (Joe Haggerty/CSNNE)
Bruins prospect and Team Russia forward Alexander Khokhlachev will be playing in the World Junior Finals tonight vs. Sweeden and has been named prospect of the month by New England Hockey Journal’s Kirk Luedeke.
Gameday links (Flames)
Torrie Peterson of Flames.com has details from Calgary’s morning skate.
The Flames need to avoid mental mistakes against the defending champs says Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald.