The NHL’s last champion and one of its current best teams will face off in Boston tonight, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting the full effect.
Fresh off of his first win of the season, Tuukka Rask will get the start in net for the Boston Bruins, while the Edmonton Oilers will eschew league-best goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in favor of Devan Dubnyk in net.
Dubnyk bears a dubious weight in this game, as he’ll be charged with holding off a Boston offense that has put up 18 goals in its last three games after scoring just 22 in the first ten.
That Bruins offense will be missing Daniel Paille, who is day-to-day with a broken nose, and may not have Rich Peverley, who is still battling an undisclosed injury. But it will be hungry.
Boston has played well against teams with good records this season - their seven losses have come at the hands of less-than-optimal competition, which is just indicative of their continued inability to get up for every single game, especially the ones that they play at home against what should be lesser competition.
Edmonton, meanwhile, has won by stopping the opposing attacks - they’ve allowed just 1.5 goals per game, best in the NHL. But they’ve done most of that with Khabibulin, who’s allowed just nine goals in nine games and is yet to lose in regulation. Dubnyk, on the other hand, has allowed 11 goals in five games.
But the Oilers’ penalty kill is top-four in the league, even if their offense hasn’t been stalwart just yet. Their 2.29 goals per game are 24th in the league, while the Bruins’ sudden surge has boosted their output to three goals per game, good for eighth in the NHL.
It’s another study of opposites at TD Garden tonight. The last time, when a streaking Ottawa team came to town, the Bruins defense shut them down and their offense took advantage of a weak blue line. Then they slowed down the once-hot Toronto Maple Leafs and took care of business against the hapless Islanders.
Is it time for Boston to knock another young, overachieving team off their high horse? We’ll find out in a few hours.