Bruins hit the road looking to build off recent momentum
Following a pair of impressive wins over the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights, the Boston Bruins (10-5-2) hit their next road trip with a good amount of confidence.
This slate of games against Colorado, Dallas and Arizona is a good test for the Black and Gold team looking for consistency away from TD Garden. They enter their four-game trip — concluding a week from Wednesday in Detroit — with a road record of 3-3-2.
Boston brings a youthful lineup with them, as Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Jeremy Lauzon and the recently recalled Jakub Zboril will make the trip. A handful of marquee players, including Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Kevan Miller and Urho Vaakaninen, are still recovering from injury.
Tuukka Rask, who returned to practice Tuesday, also rejoins his teammates after taking a few days off to deal with a personal matter following Boston’s 8-5 loss to Vancouver on Nov. 8.
Even with the young lineup and moving parts, the Bruins remain confident and are looking forward to an opportunity to improve their play away from Causeway Street.
“Generally what you want to do on the road is not give the other team easy chances. It’s usually puck management and staying out of the box – so discipline – so whatever they get, they earn,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I think that by definition is a good road game, you know don’t beat yourself. At home, teams tend to want to put on more of a show and that gets in your head mentally. On the road you don’t have to worry about that, you can win a boring game.”
Cassidy and company face a unique challenge in its first contest of the trip against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
For the first time this season, the Bruins will face a team — maybe the only team — that has a top line to match the offensive production of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Colorado’s trio of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog have combined for 69 points — the most by any line in the league — this season; precisely one more point than Boston’s top line has accumulated.
Not only will this game have the top two scoring lines in the National Hockey League, but it also features the top four individual scorers in Rantanen, Bergeron, MacKinnon and Pastrnak. So for those who like offense, clear your schedule for 10 p.m. ET Wednesday night. You won’t want to miss it.
“They are an amazing line. They are playing with amazing pace and tempo but also making great plays and obviously they have a great team over there. It is going to be a tough matchup for sure,” Bergeron said about the opportunity to play against Colorado’s ‘super line.’
“You can tell that they have a lot of talent, skills and chemistry. You know I also think we have that chemistry going on. That being said we are trying to approach it as a long road trip and we need to start off on the right track. That’s where we need to put the emphasis on, not on the matchup but more on the overall game.”
The Bruins will have two very winnable games against the Stars and Coyotes to conclude their latest three-game-in-four-night stand. But neither matchup will be easy.
Boston needed Marchand’s overtime winner a week ago Monday despite the Stars opting to start former Bruin Anton Khudobin over Ben Bishop. The B’s held Tyler Sequin to only two shots on net in the 2-1 triumph. That, most certainly, won’t be the case this time around.
As for the Coyotes, they are a young and hungry bunch that’s already exceeding expectations in a stacked Pacific Division. Arizona (8-7-1) sits in fifth place with three games in hand and will look to cash in when the B’s come to town.
The Bruins sit three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the early Atlantic Division standings. A few wins could bring them closer to the top of the division with Thanksgiving right around the corner.