Game Day Preview: Bruins at Flames
As good as the Bruins have been in 2017-18, they were on the wrong side of the fence in their ugly 6-1 showing in Vancouver Saturday night. Less than 48 hours later — in Game 2 of their five-game road trip — the Black and Gold hope to avoid losing two straight since December when they take on the Flames for the second time in six days.
The Bruins’ focus entering Monday? Tighten up defensively while staying opportunistic on the attacking end.
That’s been the formula for their success the past few months, but there have been a few cracks on the defensive end that have led to other teams pouncing on counter attacks with odd-man rushes and second-chance opportunities. That will need to change in Calgary as the B’s hope to pull within one point of the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning.
“It’s been a few games now where we’ve been loose, and you’re not going very far if you’re loose,” Bruce Cassidy told NHL.com. “You’ll win some games, but we want to get back to being a tighter, better defensive team.”
Having a loose attitude is one thing, but if the Bruins aren’t careful, they may find themselves on the other end of the scoreboard for the second straight game. Cassidy’s bunch hasn’t lost two in a row since mid-December — a regulation loss to the Capitals and overtime loss to Rangers — and haven’t lost consecutive regulation games since mid-November.
Gametime: 4 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 35-13-8 (78 points), Flames 30-21-8 (68 points)
Location: Scotiabank Saddledome
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-Adam McQuaid
Flames projected lines
Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Micheal Ferland
Matthew Tkachuk-Mikael Backlund-Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett-Mark Jankowski-Garnet Hathaway
Ryan Lomberg-Matt Stajan-Curtis Lazar
Mark Giordano-Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie-Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak-Michael Stone
– Could the Bruins get help on the defensive end immediately? No, we’re not talking about a possible trade for Ryan McDonagh or another blue-line trade deadline possibility, but rather a game-time decision for Kevan Miller. The former Vermont Catamount has missed the last six games because of an upper-body injury but is expected to return either Monday or Tuesday. Miller is one of their better stay-at-home defensemen and deserves to be in the lineup when healthy. Given the past four games, the Bruins could use that stay-at-home option to clean up the costly mistakes. Either way, Miller’s return will be coming sooner, rather than later.
– The Bruins haven’t played their best hockey over the past four games, but they’ve wound up with a .500 mark in that span. David Pastrnak’s performance over the last four games is a microcosm of the B’s unusual mediocre play. The crafty playmaker hasn’t scored since the 6-1 win over the Rangers on Feb. 7. Nearly a week later, Pastrnak was demoted to the third line — and replaced by David Backes — after taking an untimely penalty in the first period against the same Flames squad. He’s awed The Hub of Hockey with his crafty playmaking, but the Bruins need Pastrnak to keep things simple against Johnny Gaudreau and company.