The Boston Bruins will embark on their longest road trip of the season starting this Friday as they travel to Buffalo. The black and gold will also have stops in Winnipeg (Tyler Seguin set your alarm the correct way please), Tampa, Florida and New York before returning home to host the Ottawa Senators at the end of February.
The B’s are off to their best start in franchise history (8-1-2) and will need to continue their torrid pace away from the TD Garden. The team has a 4-0-1 record away from home so it should not be an issue, but it is a crucial part of their schedule before the B’s will play a whopping 17 games in March.
Here are my five keys to having a successful five game road trip.
1. The Power Play must improve
The Bruins have converted on 9.3% (4-43) of their power-plays on the year. That is bad. That is unacceptable and it should not happen with the talent on this roster. When you have a man-advantage, you must punish the opposition as Andy Brickley stated the other night. The Bruins just do not attack the net on the man advantage and that must change because the chances are there and it will come back to haunt them. Sure, their defense is keeping them in games, but the Bruins need a nice 5-1 win on the road with two power-play goals to get their confidence back. And oh yeah, have Seguin on the power-play more than Chris Bourque. Also, why not try Brad Marchand on the man advantage? This “little ball of hate” has been lighting the lamp at will lately.
2. Give Anton Khudobin three starts so Tuukka Rask can clear his head
I know people want Rask to be “The Man” but why not give Khudobin some time and give Tuukka some time to rest? Khudobin is no push over. He is 2-0 this year and only has one loss in his career plus Tuukka will be called upon a lot in the month of March with 17 games to be played. There is nothing wrong with letting the back-up play if he is pretty good like Khudobin. Look for Khudobin on the road trip.
3. Leave Seguin with David Krejci
These two were paired together in the third period of the Montreal Canadiens game down 1-0. By the time you got comfortable after the intermission, the Bruins led 2-1 two minutes into the third period, goal by Seguin assisted by Krejci and then a game-winning Krejci goal assisted by Seguin. It is not hard that these two can make a lot happen while on the ice together. They are both play-makers and if each line essentially plays the same amount, why not try to utilize the best opportunities with these two alongside each other?
4. Third line scoring
The Bourque-Kelly-Peverley line must get going. This line has two goals in 11 games and has not put much together. It has been tough to watch as a fan, but once they gain more chemistry together, this line could finally get rolling. Chris Kelly has yet to score (sorry Ant) while netting 20 goals last season. Peverley netted 11 goals last season while dishing out 31 assists. Their statistics this year must balloon and they will, it will just take some, but Bruins fans are tired of waiting on this third line. Fans want the Bourque experiment to end, but he has played a few sound games in a row regaining his confidence.
5. Get Dougie Hamilton back on track.
Hamilton was off to a hot start in Boston, but lately he has been suspect over the last five games. He was a -1 versus the Rangers, a -1 versus Buffalo, and -2 versus Buffalo dating back to Jan. 31 to name a few. He has not recorded a point since Jan. 28 versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
Dougie is a rookie, but he is playing like a 10-year veteran. He has yet to record a penalty which is remarkable with the amount of time he is on the ice. Hamilton will be a star for years. I am not saying he is playing bad, but he needs to get his confidence back. Look for him to go on a little point streak during this road trip.