Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Kings
The Boston Bruins came out of the All-Star break guns blazing beating the New York Islanders 5-2 on Thursday night. Tuukka Rask led the way with 43 saves while Reilly Smith had a goal and two assists in the victory.
Now, the B’s will turn their attention to the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings find themselves outside the playoff picture trailing the Calgary Flames by a point for the Eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.
The Kings are not playing their best hockey at the moment, but pose a tough match up for the Black and Gold as they can match the B’s skill, defensive scheme and physicality. Over their last 10 games, they sport a 3-3-4 record while their road record is an unimpressive 5-9-6.
The B’s dropped their only meeting of the season against the Kings on December 2nd in Los Angeles by a score of 2-0. Niklas Svedberg was between the pipes for the B’s while Jonathan Quick posted a shutout for the Kings.
Another angle to look at in their previous match up was the absence of Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Adam McQuaid. All three were nursing injuries, but all will be in the lineup Saturday at TD Garden.
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Here is your complete Bruins-Kings preview:
Gametime: 7:00 PM
Records: Bruins 26-16-7 (59 points)/Kings 21-15-12 (54 points)
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: TD Garden
Bruins’ projected lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Reilly Smith
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Chris Kelly-Carl Soderberg-David Pastrnak
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Jordan Caron
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Kings’ projected lineup
Marian Gaborik-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown
Dwight King-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford-Jarret Stoll-Justin Williams
Trevor Lewis-Nick Shore-Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr-Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb-Matt Greene
Who to watch for Bruins: Reilly Smith
Before his goal Thursday night against the Islanders, Reilly Smith was held scoreless in his last 11 games. Over his last three games, Smith has strung together some success. He has a goal and four assists over that span.
Smith was flying all over the ice on Thursday night in Long Island. That’s what the B’s need if Smith wants to stay in the top six forward conversation. He was moved to the first line alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic so David Pastrnak wouldn’t have to match up against John Tavares and it paid off immensely.
Related: Smith heating up at the a good time
Consistency has been a difficult aspect of Smith’s game. There are times we see him score in bunches or not score for a month straight. It’s possible he is going through one of the positive trends right now.
Who to watch for Kings: Tyler Toffoli
Tyler Toffoli has been a bright spot for the Kings this season. He has 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) through 42 games played while his plus-18 rating ranks 10th in the NHL. The 22 year-old also has a league leading four short-handed goals.
Over his last two games, Toffoli has a goal and two assists to go along with a plus-2 rating. Toffoli isn’t a workhorse when it comes to minutes (averaging 14 minutes per contest) which is why his statistics are even more impressive.
In his career against the Black and Gold (two games), Toffoli has a goal and a plus-2 rating. This season on the road, Toffoli has four goals and four assists in 19 games played as well.
Game Day Edge: Take advantage of Kings’ struggles
Not only do the Kings play poorly on the road, they are going through a stretch right now where they are having trouble winning games.
The defending champs looked impressive in their 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks last Wednesday, but prior to that they lost to the Sharks, Flames, Ducks and Devils in succession.
The B’s on the other hand have been playing their best hockey of the season over the past month. They need to continue their penalty killing, have their defensive layers ready and play more physical than the Kings. It doesn’t hurt that the B’s are at home where they are 15-7-4.
It will not be an easy game by any means, but the Black and Gold are in a good spot with the Kings playing poorly over the last few weeks. They need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Game Day Video: Relive what the Bruins had to say after their 2-0 loss to the Kings back in December.