Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Islanders
Notching points against teams in the bottom of the standings is something that every team hopes to take advantage of, especially at home. Over the last few years, that hasn’t been the case for the Boston Bruins.
The alarming trend is carrying over into 2016-17. Last week alone, their losses to the lowly Avalanche and Maple Leafs dropped their record at TD Garden under .500. They got back to even with a 1-0 win over the Kings on Causeway Street on Sunday afternoon.
Another team beneath the Bruins is on the docket tonight as the Islanders come to town to open the season series between the two teams. A year after advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993, the Islanders have become one of the more dissapointing teams in the first half of the season as they currently sit dead last in the Eastern Conference standings.
For a team that has only won twice away from Barclays Center, the Bruins hope to buck the alarming trend for at least one game and give fans something to cheer for in their final appearance on Causeway Street before Christmas.
Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 17-13-3 (37 points), Islanders 11-14-6 (28 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Riley Nash
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Austin Czarnik-Noel Acciari
Anton Blidh-Dominic Moore-Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
Islanders projected lines
Anders Lee-John Tavares-Josh Bailey
Shane Prince-Brock Nelson-Anthony Beauviller
Nikolay Kulemin-Ryan Strome-Cal Clutterbuck
Andrew Ladd-Alan Quine-Jason Chimera
Nick Leddy-Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey-Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Hann-Dennis Seidenberg
– Frank Vatrano’s season debut with Boston will have to wait. A couple days after completing his conditioning stint in Providence, head coach Claude Julien ruled Vatrano out for tonight’s game. Shaking off the rust in his first two games since May, Vatrano managed to score a pair of goals for the P-Bruins. Even though he’s out tonight, it’s hard to imagine the East Longmeadow native not joining his Boston teammates when they travel to South Florida and Carolina for another set of back-to-backs before the NHL’s holiday break.
– One thing that doesn’t have to wait is the return of Dennis Seidenberg, who’s final two years on his contract was bought out by GM Don Sweeney in the offseason. After a solid showing for Team Europe in their improbable run in the World Cup, Seidenberg’s success has carried over to the Islanders after signing a 1-year, $1 million deal before the start of the regular season. As one of the few bright spots for the Isles in the first half of the year, the former Bruin has a team-leading plus-9 to go along with 10 points (four goals, six assists) while averaging a little under 20 minutes time on ice per night in 24 games.
– Looking for a spark from their power play, Julien hopes that mixing the rotation of his power play units will at least help the cause. As the second power play unit got the better chances with the man advantage in Sunday’s win over the Kings – on an afternoon where they went 0-for-4 on the PP – Julien could very well switch things up by having Ryan Spooner, Dominic Moore, Austin Czarnik, Zdeno Chara and Colin Miller start things out with the man advantage. With the top power play combination of Torey Krug, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Backes struggling to generate chances, perhaps a wakeup call is in order for the supposed top power play unit as the B’s go up against an Islanders penalty kill that is 26th in the league having killed just 78.1 percent of their penalties.