The Boston Bruins are at a cross road right now. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are out with concussions. Carl Soderberg may not be allowed to join the Black and Gold until further notice. And the B’s lost out on two points Thursday night against the Islanders as they fell 2-1 at TD Garden.
Still, they sit one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead and second spot in the Eastern Conference. But things are just not adding up.
The Bruins sit at 26-10-4 and have accumulated points in seven of their last 10 games, but the fact they are without Bergeron and Marchand really hurts them significantly. Bergeron may be the best three-zone center man in the game and Marchand is having a career year, although his season may be cut short due to an intentional elbow to the head by Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov Wednesday night in New Jersey.
But make no mistake, the B’s will not make excuses and will try turn the page in Raleigh Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canes are 1-9 in their last 10 games and sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. If there is any game for the B’s to make a statement to the Eastern Conference-it is this one. Do not take the Hurricanes for granted, but take it to them from the first puck drop.
The Bruins have won the two previous meetings between the two teams outscoring the Hurricanes in an 11-5 aggregate.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
Location: PNC Arena
TV/Radio: NESN/ 98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (26-10-4, 56 points), Hurricanes (16-22-2, 34 points)
Bruins’ projected lines:
Lineups subject to change
Daniel Paille-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Milan Lucic-Gregory Campbell-Jaromir Jagr
Jordan Caron-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Kaspars Daugavins-Rich Peverley-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski
Andew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Hurricanes’ projected lines:
Jiri Tlusty-Eric Staal-Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner-Jordan Staal-Tuomo Ruutu
Chad LaRose-Riley Nash-Tim Wallace
Marc-Andre Bergeron-Nicolas Blanchard-Kevin Westgarth
Justin Faulk-Tim Gleason
Joe Corvo-Jay Harrison
Bobby Sanguinetti-Jamie McBain
Bruins to watch:
Yep, you guessed it. Let’s take a look at under-performing forward Milan Lucic. With five goals on the season – an astonishing stat after scoring 56 goals in the last two years (30 in 2010-11 and 26 in 2011-12) – Lucic is struggling to get anything going just months after signing a three-year, $18 million contract extension. For someone who has just one goal in his last 23 games, that contract is not justifiable.
When is the last time you saw Lucic really line someone up for a hit? Don’t count the collision last Saturday night in Montreal either. The B’s need him to play his big bad style of hockey. He has not been impressive in the playoffs either so, maybe a scratch to clear the mind will allow Lucic to regain his focus and confidence because recently he has been a lost cause.
Tyler Seguin needs to build off his goal against the Islanders and carry this team on his back. Seguin, who is second on the team in goals (14) and fifth in points (28) was not happy after the Islanders loss on Thursday night. Expect the 21-year old to play with an extra edge tonight.
Hurricanes to watch:
Eric Staal is a no-brainer. He leads the Hurricanes in assists (27) as well as points (43). He is second on the team in goals behind teammate Jiri Tlusty. Staal has three assists in his last four games, but the alarming stat is his minus-4 in the past three games. Zdeno Chara will keep an eye out for the former second overall pick
Despite his inconsistencies Alexander Semin is another player that tends to give the Bruins fits. He has 10 goals and 26 assists on the year and leads his team in plus/minus (+8). It is hard to believe this team has only won one game in its last 10 games with the talent on the roster.
In his last game, Semin had eight shots on net along with two penalty minutes. He will fire at will and the shaky Bruins’ defense will need to keep an eye on him at all times.
While Patrice Bergeron appears to be recovering nicely from his fourth concussion, the B’s aren’t viewing him as a savior when he returns to the lineup (Joe Haggerty/CSN New England).
The Soderberg saga keeps getting interesting, but Stanley Cup of Chowder thinks that “Yeti” will come to Boston when its all said and done.
Wes Hermann of The Hockey Writers explains why the ‘Canes injuries have taken their toll.
Tweets of interest:
NESN’s own Leah Hextall provides more info on the Soderberg watch:
Phone died; but just got this info. NHL is still analyzing material from SWE Fed as per Soderberg. Hopefully his camp will hear this wknd.
— Leah Hextall (@leahhextall) April 13, 2013
And Seguin goes fishing (okay, not really) via Andrew Ference (@Ferknuckle)
— Andrew Ference (@Ferknuckle) April 13, 2013