Game Day Preview: Bruins at Stars
As well known as the Bruins’ struggles against teams currently in playoff position are, there’s a chance that this issue will be magnified even more tonight when they travel to Dallas to face the Stars in the final game of their six-game road trip.
Fresh off an uninspiring 2-0 loss in Nashville, the Black and Gold have a much more difficult opponent ahead of them. Led by the dynamic duo of former Bruin Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn — who have a combined 131 points on 61 goals and 70 assists — the Stars come in as the second-best team in the West, just one point behind the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Captain Zdeno Chara has been on the ice for eight of the last nine Bruins’ goals allowed — and was directly responsible for holding Alexander Wennberg in Columbus that led to a penalty shot. Somehow, the 38-year-old and the rest of the struggling B’s defense will need to dig deep and find a way to stop Seguin, Benn, Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp and the rest of the high-flying Stars. Otherwise, it may be another early exit for Tuukka Rask between the pipes.
In other news related to tonight’s game, head coach Claude Julien told reporters in Dallas that Ryan Spooner is feeling under the weather and is questionable for this evening’s game. Joonas Kemppainen took his place centering Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes during the morning skate with Max Talbot paired with Zac Rinaldo and Tyler Randell on the fourth line.
Gametime: 8:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 31-21-6 (68 points), Stars 37-16-6 (80 points)
Location: American Airlines Center
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brett Connolly
Loui Eriksson-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey-Joonas Kemppainen-Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo-Max Talbot-Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara-Zach Trotman
Dennis Seidenberg-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Stars projected lines
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Ales Hemsky
Mattias Janmark-Jason Spezza-Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel-Cody Eakin-Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin-Vernon Fiddler-Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski-John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya-Jordie Benn
Patrik Nemeth-Jason Demers
Matchup to watch: Stars offense vs. Bruins defense
Both the aging Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are showing signs of decline. Zach Trotman, while demonstrating some potential, has been inconsistent as of late. Adam McQuaid is still fighting off some rust after returning from a head injury in Columbus. Torey Krug, while much improved in his own end, can still be outmatched by stronger offenses. Kevan Miller, well, what else can be said other than that he’s still a liability and isn’t showing much improvement.
Combine these ingredients and the Bruins have a recipe for disaster — at least on paper — against the second best offensive team in the league.
More than likely, Rask will have to stand on his head if the Bruins want to steal two points in Dallas.
Of course, there’s a reason they play the game, and the Bruins could find a way to break through and get a significant win against one of the best teams in the league. But there’s a good reason for pessimism entering this one, and even in the days before the trade deadline, there’s not much to be optimistic about with this year’s version of the Black and Gold.
Storyline to watch: Will this be the last time Loui Eriksson faces his former team in Black and Gold?
In a year where Loui Eriksson is having his best year as a Bruin, the speculation regarding his contract and potential trade value continues to run rampant. Wherever Eriksson goes, he’ll still have a few more meetings against his former Dallas teammates, but tonight could signal his final matchup against the Stars while donning the ‘Spoked B’.
Eriksson will forever be linked to Seguin as the centerpiece of the infamous trade that took place on July 4, 2013. As productive as the Swede has been the last two seasons in Boston, there’s still a question of what could’ve been had former GM Peter Chiarelli decided to keep Seguin as one of the core members in the Bruins’ locker room.