Game Day Preview: Bruins at Blue Jackets
The NHL’s holiday break is officially over and teams are back in business.
For the Boston Bruins, it’s hardly been business as usual as they come into their first game of the break carrying a 3-4-3 record in their last 10 games. As some of the Bruins’ ongoing issues like the lack of goal scoring, power play ineffectiveness and backup goaltending situation become more alarming, the Blue Jackets are trending in an opposite direction since their last loss to the Black and Gold in November.
Since their 5-2 loss to the B’s in their lone meeting at TD Garden on November 10th, the Blue Jackets have only lost three times. Head coach John Tortorella and company carry a 12-game winning streak into tonight’s game and have been clicking on all cylinders.
The Bruins, who have already beaten the Blue Jackets twice by a combined 11-5 tally, have another tough task ahead of them as they face a Columbus squad that ranks in the top 10 in nearly every basic statistical category.
Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 18-14-4 (40 points), Blue Jackets 23-5-4 (50 points)
Location: Nationwide Arena
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-David Backes
Frank Vatrano-Austin Czarnik-Riley Nash
Anton Blidh-Dominic Moore-Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Colin Miller
Blue Jackets projected lines
Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson
Scott Hartnell-Lukas Sednak-Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski-Seth Jones
Jack Johnson-David Savard
Ryan Murray-Markus Nutivaara
– Any team will tell you that staying out of the box is a key to success. Even though the Bruins boast the league’s third best penalty kill (87.3 percent), the last thing they want tonight is to give the Blue Jackets opportunities with the man advantage. Led by Cam Atkinson’s league-leading 17 power play points, the Blue Jackets come in ranked first on the man advantage converting on 26.9 percent of their chances. Though if there’s one silver lining, it’s that the Blue Jackets haven’t drawn many opponents to the box. Their 93 power play opportunities are the third fewest in the league trailing only the Wild (92) and Islanders (91).
– One player who likes playing against the Blue Jackets is David Backes. In 47 career games, the former Blues captain has 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists), that also includes his five points (three goals, two assists) in the Bruins’ two wins vs. Columbus this season. For a guy who only has five points in his last ten games, another matchup with the hottest team in the league could be just what the doctored ordered.
– For the first time since suffering a concussion against the Tampa Bay Lightning on November 27, John-Michael Liles joined his fellow teammates for the morning skate. His timetable to return is still unknown as Claude Julien told reporters that Liles still hasn’t been cleared for contact. Liles, who came over from Carolina at the trade deadline last year, notched five assists in his first 22 games with the Black and Gold this season.
John-Michael Liles, who has been out since Nov. 27 with a concussion, is skating this morning. pic.twitter.com/CjFowNolgs
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 27, 2016