Game Day Preview: Bruins at Canucks
All of a sudden the Boston Bruins have lost three of four games and now head out west for a crucial five-game road trip against stiff competition.
In their latest loss Tuesday night at TD Garden, the Bruins did the unthinkable allowing two short-handed goals to the Dallas Stars resulting in a 4-3 loss. It was the first (and second) short-handed goal the Black and Gold have allowed all season long.
On Boston.com: Power Play powerless in loss to Stars
The plan was for Niklas Svedberg to spell Tuukka Rask for the evening, but that lasted all of one period as Svedberg allowed three goals on 10 shots and was pulled after the first period in favor of the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
Related: Rask’s night off short-lived
Now, Claude Julien’s bunch will try to write the ship in their first game of their west coast swing tonight against the Vancouver Canucks.
The B’s all of a sudden only hold a four point lead over the ninth seeded Florida Panthers, who have a game in hand. The Canucks have slid into the seventh seed in the Western conference.
Vancouver owns a 14-11-1 record at home while Boston is 11-10-3 away from Causeway Street. This will be the first meeting between the two teams of the season.
[Heading to Vancouver to catch Bruins-Canucks tonight? Check out last minute ticket prices on TicketMonster]
Here is your complete Bruins-Canucks preview:
Gametime: 10:00 PM
Records: Bruins 28-19-7 (63 points)/Canucks 30-20-3 (63 points)
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: Rogers Arena
Bruins’ projected lines:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Canucks’ projected lines:
Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins-Linden Vey-Radim Vrbata
Brandon McMillian-Shawn Matthias-Zack Kassian
Ronalds Kenins-Bo Horvat-Jannik Hansen
Alexander Edler-Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis-Luca Sbisa
Ryan Stanton-Adam Clendening
Who to watch for Bruins: Daniel Paille
If there was ever a guy that needs to light the lamp on this road trip-it’s Daniel Paille. Over the past week, the fourth line winger is getting accustomed to missing open nets, hitting posts and even tripping over center ice on potential breakaways.
In 54 games this season, the 30 year-old has one goal, seven assists and a team worst minus-9 rating. It’s tough to put blame on a fourth liner, but if Paille finished a few of his chances, the B’s may have won one of the three games they have lost over the last seven days.
The last time Paille scored a goal (Nov 21st), Bill Belichick and the Patriots were preparing for the Detroit Lions in Week 12 of the NFL season. Think about that.
There is no reason Paille should get over 10 minutes of ice time per game, but in five of his last six games he’s eclipsed 10:30 of ice time. We’ll see if Julien continues to give the fourth line forward more ice time, especially in crunch time.
Who to watch for Canucks: Radim Vrbata
The Sedin twins are still dangerous, but the Black and Gold must also be aware of Vrbata’s presence. The 33 year-old leads the Canucks with 20 goals, has notched 19 assists and has three game-winning goals on the year.
In his 15 career games against the B’s, Vrbata has four goals, three assists, a plus-4 rating while throwing seven hits in the process.
In his last five games, Vrbata’s been red-hot with one goal and five assists, while sporting a plus-5.
Game day edge: Win the first one
While the B’s are in the midst of a mini-slump, it is very important they start this road trip off on the right foot. They need to honor their system, throw their bodies around and be the team that intimidated Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Black and Gold cannot come out as they did Tuesday against Tyler Seguin and the Stars spotting them a two-goal lead. There needs to be more commitment and production from Julien’s core guys and it starts Friday night in Vancouver.
The B’s can’t afford to drop this one and make it three losses in a row and four of five with four contests left on the west coast trip. Otherwise, the wheels could be falling off.