The Boston Bruins (24-13-2, 50 pts) begin a three-game road trip to close out the month of January in Denver and play the NHL’s best team, the Colorado Avalanche (29-8-3, 61 pts) Monday Night (10 PM ET, TNT, SN, TVAS).
After their 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, the Bruins are 7-3-0 in their last ten games and 14-8-1 overall in January.
The Avalanche comes in riding a seven-game win streak and a 16-game win streak in the friendly confines of Ball Arena.
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy knows his team is in for a battle:
“They have won I think whatever it is,  in a row at home, playing well and has played well for years,” Cassidy said following the game-day skate Wednesday,” We’ve had good games against them, just come up a little bit short in crunch time. In that regard, we’d better be ready to go.
Some good road games recently, we had a long stretch at home. Played well in Washington, played well in Tampa, Detroit, so we hope that that continues, our ability to win both in Boston and on the road.”
Linus Ullmark (14-5-0, 2.55 GAA, .915 save percentage) will get the nod for the Boston Bruins and Darcy Kuemper (19-5-1, 2.63, .913 save percentage) will be between the pipes for the Avs.
As discussed on The Ice Guys Wednesday, this is a tall task for the Boston Bruins and coming at a rather inopportune time. The goaltending of Tuukka Rask and Linus Ullmark has been combined, average at best. That’s being kind to Rask too since he’s clearly rustier than a Victoriaville goalie stick.
The Avalanche is a wagon right now and the Boston Bruins are still a team in flux. The NHL Betting play here is the Avs on the Puck Line at +130 and the team total OVER 3.5.
Prediction: Avalanche 5 Bruins 2
Boston Bruins Notes
-Boston Bruins forward Anton Blidh returns to the lineup tonight after a two-game absence. He’ll skate on the left with Tomas Nosek in the middle and Curtis lazar on the right.
-Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Gryzelcyk (upper-body) will miss a second game after being injured in the first period of the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Forward Nick Foligno (lower-body0 will also be out for this game and the next two. Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore is still day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Forward Trent Frederic (upper-body) is also out and there is no timetable for his return. Defenseman Jakub Zboril is out for the season after successful surgery for a torn ACL last month.
-Despite suffering – what at the time, seemed like a long-term injury last Thursday, Brad Marchand returned Saturday and has two assists in each of the two games since. Marchand leads the Boston Bruins in goals (20), assists (25), and points with 45.
Colorado Avalanche Notes
-The Avalanche have a 12-0-1 record in January, matching a franchise record for most wins in one month. They lead the Central Division.
-The Avs have two players in the top ten of NHL scoring. Former Toronto Maple Leafs nemesis Nazem Kadri is fourth (16-36-52), and Mikko Rantanen is seventh (22-27-49).
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Craig Smith
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Oskar Steen
Anton Blidh – Tomas Nosek – Curtis Lazar
Urho Vaakanainen – Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Colorado Avalanche Lines:
Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin-Nazem Kadri-Andrei Burakovsky
Logan O’Connor-Alex Newhook-J.T. Compher
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Mikhail Maltsev-Tyson Jost
Devan Toews-Cale Makar
Jack Johnson-Jonathan Girard
Kurtis MacDermid-Erik Johnson