Mighty Ducks have shaken off an early season malaise and climbed to second in the Pacific, and are actually sitting in a rather Bruins-esque position - they're a point ahead of the third place team in that div (Boston's last opponent, the San Jose Sharks) who hold a the ROW tiebreaker. And they're not that far off the first-place pace, either.
Those pesky NHL schedulers were pretty brutal when they put together this uneven stretch for the Boston Bruins, too; the B's will place the Ducks tonight, then the Pacific-leading Los Angeles Kings on Saturday evening. Following that, the Bruins have three days without games, a road game against the New York Rangers for the first half of a back-to-back, a home game against the Atlantic-leading Florida Panthers (currently anyway) for the second half, and a Saturday road game in Toronto that'll represent the Bruins third game in four days and 90th zip code in a week and a half's span. It's not the worst schedule, but it's far from the easiest stretch run for a team jockeying for playoff positioning, as the B's come into tonight's game with a one-point lead over the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning and one point behind Florida.
Got all that? Good, on to the game itself.
Just The Facts:
Records: Boston Bruins, 39-24-8, 86 Points in 71 Games, 2nd Place in the Atlantic. Anaheim Ducks, 38-22-9, 85 Points in 69 Games, 2nd Place in the Pacific.
Home/Away/L10: Bruins on the road: 23-8-3. Anaheim at home: 22-9-5. BOS L10: 6-2-2. ANA: 6-3-1.
Head-to-Head: The Ducks smoked the Bruins 6-2 on Jan. 26th at TD Garden, which is the only other time the two teams met (or will meet) this season.
How/When To Watch:
When: Tonight - March 18th - 10 PM
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
TV: NESN, FS-SD, SN1
Radio: 98.5 The Hub of Sport, KLAA 830
- Torey Krug, who had the golden chance at the end of the Sharks game go by wayside, now has 207 SOG on the season. That's good for fourth among all DMen in the league. He only has 3 Goals to show for that. If this trend could start evening itself out a bit, that'd be swell.
- As is pretty typical for the Ducks, right-winger Corey Perry leads the team in goals (29) and linemate Ryan Getzlaf leads them in points (53). These two are a pretty strong tandem and also I enjoy watching them fail. Call this a jinx or whatever, but my goodness do these two ever complain a lot while covering themselves in glory. Repeatedly. There's only complaining highlight because the NHL doesn't seem to consider "whining at the ref after an opposing goal" a highlight-worthy video. Odd. Ryan Kesler's third on the team with points (40) and maybe I should just stop now because this team is not getting more likable.
- Sticking with the objective analysis here, the Ducks fell only one game short of the Stanley Cup Finals last year and, despite the ratty nature of their headliners, they shouldn't be underestimated. Bruce Boudreau's team has rebounded from a frigid start to be in contention for the division again. That said, blue-liners Sami Vatanen (the trivia answer to "my goodness, do the Ducks have any good players I shouldn't despise?) and Kevin Bieksa are both day-to-day, so the defensive corps might look somewhat like...the Bruins defensive corps.
- John Gibson (.919 in 31 games) or Fredirik Andersen (.921 in 38 games) could be seen between the pipes for the Ducks. It's likely to be Tuukka Rask for the Bruins, as best guess is that we see Jonas Gustavsson in one half of the NYR-Florida back-to-back, and Rask'll have plenty of rest after this weekend.
Get your caffeine folks, because the back-to-back 10 PM starts are going to be "fun"!