Two of NHL’s best collide tonight: Bruins vs. Kings preview
First in the Pacific with 24 points — one ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes — and second in the West — two behind Detroit — LA looks to snap a three-game losing streak tonight as the Bruins host the Kings at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Puck drops at 7pm EST.
Game 19 Away team, LA Kings: 12-6-0, 24 points, 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference, 4-5-0 away
Who’s Hot (last four games):
Anze Kopitar: 2-4-6, 16 shots on goal
Dustin Brown: 2-2-4, 10 SOG, plus-4
Drew Doughty: 1-5-6 (2 PPP) 12 SOG, plus-3
Jarret Stoll: 1-2-3 38 FOW
The Kings are averaging nearly 30 shots on goal per game while the Bruins has been allowing nearly 35 shots against this season—including having been outshot now for 10 consecutive games. So this must watch game going to come down to the goaltending and special teams tonight.
LA boasts a pedestrian 15.5 percent success rate on the power play, but like the Bruins, have a stellar penalty-kill which ranks fifth in the NHL at 88.3 percent.
The two Kings’ netminders split time over the last two contests, with Jonathan Quick having the slight edge over Jonathan Bernier over the last four. Quick’s seven-game win-streak came to a crashing hault in LA on Wednesday night, losing their first home game of the seaosn to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-3.
Quick: 1-1-0, 2.51 GAA, .886 SV %, 5 goals allowed over 44 shots
Bernier: 0-2-0, 5.02, .833 SV %, 10 goals allowed on 60 shots
Quick also own Boston, posting a 3-0-0 rfecord, 2.16 GAA and .916 SV % against the Black-and-Gold.
Game 18 Home team, Boston Bruins: 11-5-1, 23 points 2nd Northeast Division, 5th Eastern Conference, 4-4-1 at home
Milan Lucic: A three-game point-streak with 4-1-5 totals and 5-2-7 totals in five of his last six games
Nathan Horton: Also a three-game point-streak with 1-4-5 totals and 2-4-6 totals in four of his last six contests
Patrice Bergeron: 0-6-6 totals in four of his last six games
Dennis Seidenberg: Has quietly blocked 14 shots in his last four games, and is now fourth in the league amongst shot-blockers with 49 through 17 games
Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara: Have been a solid 1-2 pairing on the blueline since Juhnny Boychuk’s 10-game absence (now back in the lineup) both posting an assist and a team-high plus-6, respectively, over their last four contests.
Despite (Tuukka Rask) leading the Bruins to 4-0 victory against the Florida Panthers with a 41 save shutout on Thursday night, Tim Thomas looks to get the nod over Rask tonight, as Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice this morning, indicating that he will be between the pipes for the B’s.
Thomas: 2-1-0, 1.34 GAA, .959 SV %, 4 goals on 97 shots against. No. 30 is also winless against the Kings lifetime, dropping all three overtime/shootout contests with a 2.36 GAA and .921 SV%
Rask: 1-0-0 (SO), 41 saves. Rask hold a 1-3-1 record all-time (1 SO) vs. LA, with a 2.18 GAA and .940 SV%
Boston’s power play (17.5 %) has capitalized just once in their last 18 man-advantage opportunities. But their penalty-kill has remained rock-solid; having killed off 14 of their last 15 times short, and second overall in the NHL this season with an 89.1 percent success rate.
Speaking of morning skates, Marc Savard skated with the B’s (video here)
In their last meeting, Mark Stuart nearly TKO’d Kopitar at the blueline with a clean hit to the Kings’ best forward. Wayne Simmonds, sporting a half shield, jumped in a tangled with Stuart — who missed the next seven games leading up to the Olympic break with a broken finger from the bout.
Maybe if it’s revenge that’s on Stuart’s mind, maybe Simmonds will have the decency to remove his helmet this time.