Game Day Preview: Bruins at Islanders
The hottest team in the National Hockey League looks to pick up where they left off.
Following a 10-2-2 mark in December – outscoring opponents 49-26 – the Boston Bruins are feeling good about themselves entering 2018. Fresh off their 5-0 shellacking of the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the Bruins begin their calendar year with a tough road matchup in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders.
As dreadful as the Islanders are in their own end – indicated by their league-worst 3.58 goals per contest – their offense can light the lamp at any time. Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares, Anders Lee and Calder candidate Matthew Barzal are front and center as the Isles sit second in goals for (134) and third in goals per game (3.44).
The consistent Bruins are finding ways to win both at home and on the road. Even with their win a few weeks ago in the first meeting of the year, the Black and Gold will have their hands full against an Isles squad that is significantly better at home (12-3-3) than they are away from Barclays Center.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 21-10-6 (48 points), Islanders 20-15-4 (44 points)
Location: Barclays Center
Bruins’ projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Ryan Spooner
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Islanders’ projected lines
Anders Lee-John Tavares-Josh Bailey
Andrew Ladd-Matthew Barzal-Jordan Eberle
Shane Prince-Brock Nelson-Tanner Fritz
Jason Chimera-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy-Ryan Pulock
Adam Pelech-Scott Mayfield
Thomas Hickey-Sebastian Aho
– The Bruins scored 13 goals in three games last week. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak accounted for just one of those tallies – a third-period power play marker by Bergeron to give the Black and Gold a 5-0 advantage in Ottawa. The top line was still effective – especially on the defensive end – but the bigger story here is the Bruins’ depth from the second, third and fourth lines coming together. David Backes earned NHL third star of the week honors after six points (three goals, three assists) in three games, while Riley Nash and Ryan Spooner each notched a pair of goals in the two wins over the Sens. Though Cassidy and company would like to get the top line on track – especially Pastrnak, who carries a nine-game goal drought – the Bruins have themselves a well-rounded lineup.
– One area where the Bruins need consistency? The power play. Sure, the B’s went 12-for-48 (25 percent) on the man advantage in December, but there were times where both units weren’t clicking. Following a frustrating night in Washington last Thursday, David Krejci’s return sparked the Bruins’ PP to a 3-for-4 night in Ottawa two nights later. The Islanders possess the second worst penalty kill in the league (73.9 percent) giving the B’s man advantage a chance to pick up right where they left off from Saturday.