Game Day Preview: Bruins at Kings
The Boston Bruins dropped their first game of a four-game west coast road trip to the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 last night.
The B’s actually got out to an early lead on a goal by Brad Marchand in the second period, but it was answered less than a minute later by Sami Vatanen. From there, the Ducks built a two-goal lead and never looked back.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Black and Gold as they will now travel to Los Angeles to face the defending Stanley Cup champions in a back-to-back scenario. Last season, the two teams split a two-game series with each team winning on home ice.
The Kings own a 10-3-1 record on home ice while the B’s dropped to 5-5-0 on road. Again, the B’s face an opponent where they seem to be struggling a bit. The Kings have lost three of four, but it will still be a stiff test against a talented team away from home.
Here is your complete Bruins-Kings preview:
Time: 10:30 PM
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 14-10-1, 29 points/ Kings 12-7-5, 29 points
Location: Staples Center
Bruins’ projected lines:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Milan Lucic-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Matt Fraser-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Simon Gagne
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Joe Morrow-Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski-Zach Trotman
Kings’ projected lines:
Tanner Pearson-Anze Kopitar-Jeff Carter
Dustin Brown-Jarrett Stoll-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford-Trevor Lewis-Tyler Toffoli
Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty
Brayden McNabb-Matt Greene
Robyn Regehr-Jamie McBain
Who to watch for Bruins: Loui Eriksson
Last night in Anaheim, Loui Eriksson played over 18 minutes and recorded one shot on net to go along with a minus-2 rating. He may have two assists in his last three games, but Eriksson has struggled this season.
The return center piece of the Tyler Seguin deal, Eriksson has three goals and 10 assists in 25 games played. The 29 year-old winger hasn’t scored a goal since November 6th when the B’s faced off against the Oilers. Before that, Eriksson hadn’t scored since October 16th at Montreal.
In his last 20 games, Eriksson has just two goals. That’s not the production the B’s envisioned when trading away the leading goal scorer in the National Hockey League.
The Soderberg line has been productive lately with Milan Lucic stepping up his game a notch, but Eriksson needs to be more aggressive and shoot the puck instead of making the extra pass.
The seconnd round pick has riffled off only 47 shots in 25 games. Those are not the numbers Julien envisioned when Eriksson was acquired. In the year prior to coming to Boston in a lock out shortened season, Eriksson scored 12 goals and had 17 assists in 48 games. That’s a 25 goal pace for 82 games. The Swedish forward is nowhere near those statistics and that has to change especially with the B’s having trouble scoring more than two goals per game recently.
The good thing is Eriksson is familiar with the Kings. In 41 career games, he has 15 goals and 16 assists so maybe the familiarity will get him going.
Who to watch for Kings: Tyler Toffoli
He may have only played in one game against the Bruins, but Tyler Toffoli is off to a great start to the 2014-2015 season. In 24 games, he has nine goals and 10 assists including a league-leading four short-handed goals, while his plus-13 rating ranks him 10th in the NHL.
Toffoli has been quiet lately with only one goal in the last six games, but he is always a threat to do damage. The 22 year-old doesn’t log serious ice time upwards of 13 minutes per contest, but he is very skilled with the puck.
In 62 games last season, Toffoli scored 12 goals and had 17 assists with a plus-21. Playing on the fourth line alongside Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford, the Black and Gold need to be aware of the players they put on the ice in case of a mismatch.
Game Day Edge: Put last night in the past
The Bruins played well enough last night to at least get one point, but they lost and received zero points. The go-ahead goal for the Ducks was rather controversial when video showed Matt Bartkowski’s stick was being held in front of the net that led to a 2-1 Ducks lead heading into the third period. Not one official saw it leaving the B’s up and arms about the call. These are the types of situations the B’s must put on the back burner and just stick to their game plan.
Playing against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings will not be easy, and it’s only the start of a tough road trip where they are already 0-1-0. The B’s scored first last night against the Ducks and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get the first one against a Kings team that has dropped three of their last four.
This time maybe the bounces of the pucks will go the Black and Gold’s way.