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Game 70: New York Islanders at Boston Bruins

Boston tries to bounce back to .500 at home as they welcome Johnny Boychuk and the Halak-less New York Islanders.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts:

  • Game Time: 1:00 PM
  • TV Broadcast: NESN, MSG+
  • Radio Broadcast: 98.5 The Sports Hub, WNYE 91.5 FM
  • Rival SB Nation Site: Lighthouse Hockey
  • Series Record: Bruins 2-0-0 vs. Islanders 0-2-0
  • Season Record: Bruins 38-23-8, 84 points | Islanders 37-20-8, 82 points

Boston finishes off their quick two-game homestand, along with their season series, as they welcome John Tavares' Islanders to TD Garden for a matinee game this Saturday. The Bruins are looking to get back to .500 on Garden ice, as they currently sit 15-16-5 on Causeway street. The Islanders are trying to avoid a season sweep against the Bruins during their first and only stop in Boston this year.

Game Notes:

The Bruins are coming off a disappointing loss against the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night, as they struggled just to tie it in the 3rd Period, before losing in overtime to a team they really should've beaten soundly on paper. This has been the narrative this year for the Bruins - inconsistency & disappointing performances at home. The latter has really been bewildering, as the team now finds themselves with just five home games remaining. That said, only two of those five home games are against playoff teams, and despite the loss, the Bruins remain on a tear, not having lost a game in regulation since the trade deadline, earning 8 of a possible 10 points.

Boston will really have to step up their game against a deflated Islanders team, since afterwards they'll embark on a week-long stay in California that includes a back-to-back against the top teams in the Pacific division. Overall the Black & Gold are looking at a pair of four-game road trips in the coming weeks, split only by a single game at home against the Panthers on March 24th. And including the Islanders, the next six opponents they'll face are currently in the playoffs, so the Bruins will need to keep a solid point-percentage, or be in danger of falling back to 3rd place in the Atlantic, if not an unlikely plummet into the wild card. Both Tampa Bay and the Florida Panthers sit just one point behind the Bruins, each with two games in hand, while Detroit sits 7 points out, also with two extra games to play.

David Pastrnak, with two goals in his last three games, will be looking for his 2nd goal against the Islanders this season. Meanwhile Ryan Spooner will try to remain hot against the Isles, after posting 2 goals and 1 assist against Boychuk's squad earlier this season. And presumed goaltender Tuukka Rask will boast his 9-3-0 career record against NYI as he hopes to avoid his 3rd loss in his last four games.

Speaking of goaltending, the Islanders' fanbase, coaching staff, front office, and locker room must've let out a collective groan earlier this week when they heard that starting netminder Jaroslav Halak will be out 6-8 weeks with a lower body injury, and may indeed be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Although while the oft-injured goaltender will be out yet again after an otherwise solid year, the Brooklyn back-up is no pushover. Thomas Greiss straight-up has better numbers than Halak, and it's not in a but-he's-a-backup-so-it's-a-smaller-sample-size way. Greiss and Halak are tied with 18 wins, despite Jaro having six more starts. In save percentage, goals against average, and quality start percentage, Greiss gets the nod. Maybe the Islanders aren't Ha-laking a starting goaltender after all.

Like the Bruins, the Islanders are pretty much locked into the divisional Top 3. But like the Bruins, where they'll end up remains in question. With no one catching the unstoppable (as long as there's video review) Washington Capitals, the Islanders and Rangers are in a battle for 2nd place in the Metropolitan. The Blue & Orange in particular sit a comfortable six points ahead of the 4th place Pittsburgh Penguins along with having a game in hand, so it more comes down to catching the New York Rangers and stealing home-ice advantage. However it may not matter to them, since the Islanders have owned Lundqvist and the Rangers both home and on the road this season.

The Islanders have been a bit of a conundrum this year, as much of their roster has seemed to plateau, creating depth but disappointment. For a team that could end the year with four 20-goal scorers, the Islanders' strength in their youth seems to have hit a wall. Players expected to take that next step this year - guys like Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, and Josh Bailey - have come crashing back to earth. But while this is a bit concerning for the long haul, it gives them incredible depth among the forward group. Such a group is somewhat underachieving on a top line, but potentially a match-up problem when faced on the 3rd line.

Never Forget:

The Bruins break-in Barclays Center with a Brooklyn beatdown.

Fancy Stats:

The Bruins fought hard to tie the game in the 3rd, but settled for trading chances once tied. It was close but not enough in the end.