The Boston Bruins returned from the All-Star break with two strong victories on the road. The Bruins took a 2-1 decision in Winnipeg over the Jets on Friday, then destroyed the Minnesota Wild 6-1 on Saturday night. Tonight, the Bruins (31-10-12, 74 points) play host to the Pacific Division leading Vancouver Canucks (30-18-5, 65 points).
It is the first of two meetings between the sides this season. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Bruins Realize Desperation
The Bruins knocked off two teams in the thick of the playoff chase this past weekend. Tonight, they’ll play a Canucks team fighting for both the division title and a playoff spot in the Pacific. It’s another desperate team that the Bruins will battle with. There will be more to come in the final 29 games of the season.
The Bruins, for their part, have begun to realize the desperation that it takes at this point of the season.
“We’re starting to realize the desperation it takes to win, especially this time of year,” Torey Krug told reporters on Saturday night. “It’s gonna be tough from here on out. It was important for us to come out and feel good about ourselves in Winnipeg and then come into this game [Saturday], obviously win in a different style, but that’s what you need to do this time of year.”
The Bruins will face a Chicago team tomorrow night that is right on the playoff cut line. On Saturday, it will be a desperate Arizona Coyotes team clinging to a wild card spot. That realization could not have come at a better time.
Special Teams Thrives
Prior to the All-Star break, the Bruins were 0-for-15 on the powerplay. In their two games back, the club is 5-for-8 on the man advantage. It’s a big reason why the club has claimed all four points available to them since returning.
“It reestablishes some confidence, some swagger that maybe some guys lost and the unit lost in general,” said Krug. “And then we scored a goal a few different ways on the power play as well…it just gives us confidence to make plays and realize when we have the swagger, and we’re moving the puck really quick, and we’re not being stagnant and holding onto the puck, we can score against anyone.
David Pastrnak scored his league-leading 38th goal of the season on Saturday night on the powerplay. He credited getting back to basics as a big reason for the recent success.
“We recovered pucks around the net, tried to not overthink it, starts with shots,” said Pastrnak “You see Torey, usually he’s not a shooter on the power play, he started shooting, got a goal. Marchy got a one-timer goal. My goal was a recovered puck in front of the net.
“A lot of good things. Special teams came up huge. Tonight [Saturday], PK was unbelievable. It’s obviously nice, one of those games.”
As good as the powerplay has been, the Bruins penalty kill has been equally as strong. They’ve killed off all ten penalties taken, including six on Friday in Winnipeg.
The Canucks have points in six straight games and sit atop the Pacific Division as they meet the Bruins for the first time. The Canucks are coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday, where former Boston College star Thatcher Demko made 28 saves. Star forward Elias Pettersson scored a goal and led the team with six shots in the loss.
The Canucks have been nearly unbeatable at home. They’ve won nine straight at Rogers Arena, a streak that started back on December 19th. During that span, Tanner Pearson scored his 100th career goal against the Arizona Coyotes. He’s the fourth member of the 2012 draft class to accomplish that feat.
This is the first time the Bruins and Canucks have met since November 8th, 2018. The Canucks took the game 8-5 at TD Garden, with former Bruins forward Loui Eriksson scoring twice.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Sean Kuraly – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Anton Blidh – Par Lindholm – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
Bruins lines are subject to change. Rask is the expected starter tonight, as per coach Bruce Cassidy. John Moore (healthy), Joakim Nordstrom (illness) and Danton Heinen are the scratches for tonight’s game. Nordstrom also will be unavailable tomorrow night. Connor Clifton and Kevan Miller remain on IR.
Vancouver Canucks Lines
Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Loui Eriksson
J.T. Miller – Elias Pettersson – Jake Virtanen
Antoine Roussel – Adam Gaudette – Brock Boeser
Tim Schaller – Jay Beagle – Brandon Sutter
Alex Edler – Troy Stecher
Quinn Hughes – Chris Tanev
Oscar Fantenberg – Tyler Myers
Markstrom is the expected starter tonight after Demko played on Sunday in Carolina. Tyler Motte (shoulder) will miss four-to-six weeks after leaving a game against the Sharks last week. Michael Ferland (concussion) has been out since October but will head to AHL Utica for a conditioning stint this week.