Just the Facts:
Game Time: 8:00 PM
TV Broadcast: NESN, FS-MW
Radio Broadcast: 98.5 The Sports Hub, KMOX 1120 AM
Rival SB Nation Site: St. Louis Game Time
Season Record: Bruins 40-29-8, 88 points | Blues 46-22-9, 101 points
The Boston Bruins take their one-point lead for the final spot in the Atlantic division and head southwest, as they begin the second half of their four-game roadtrip tonight in St. Louis against the Central-leading St. Louis Blues. The Blues are currently battling the Dallas Stars, as the two teams are neck and neck for the top spot in the Central division and Western Conference.
Boston is coming off another moral victory but statistical loss when they out-played and out-shot the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night, but were out-scored by a final of 2-1 in regulation. It was the team's 6th regulation loss in their last seven games, and the 4th game over that same span in which they've scored just one goal or less. The 4th-best scoring team in the league scored 3+ goals in just four of their 14 games played in March, and coach Claude Julien and the boys are hoping April brings a shower of goals.
Tuukka Rask has been a little underrated over the recent stretch. The Bruins' starting goaltender had his best month since September with a 2.29 GAA and a .918 SV% in March, despite going 5-4-2 in his 12 starts. In similar fashion, Tuukka's numbers against the Blues--.937 SV% & 1.80 GAA--have only granted him a 2-1-3 record. He'll have to be at the very top of his game through the rest of the season if the back of the opposing net remains uncharted territory for the skaters in front of him.
Of said skaters, we have a few fresh faces for tomorrow's matchup against St. Louis. Wednesday saw call-ups of both Seth Griffith and center Austin Czarnik. Czarnik was quickly sent back to Providence on Thursday, but Griffith traveled down with the team along with Ryan Spooner, who is questionable to play tonight. Seth would be appearing in his 3rd game this season, but played with Boston for 30 games in 2014-15, with 6 goals and 4 assists. Along with the added youth, John-Michael Liles returned to the team on Thursday, but is still questionable for tonight's game. He might be forced into the lineup, since Dennis Seidenberg headed back to Boston after the New Jersey loss.
Meanwhile in St. Louis, the Blues have been making every one of their opponents look like the Boston Bruins offense. The tandem of Jake Allen and Brian Elliot have allowed just one goal in their last five games played. Since allowing 13 goals in two games to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, the two have stopped 123 of their 124 collective shots faced, a save-percentage of .991. This makes things even scarier for Boston, a team who was already shut out by the Blues earlier this year.
Offensively, Ken Hitchcock's crew isn't a powerhouse. St. Louis has their fair share of dynamic players, none moreso than leading goal-scorer Vladimir Tarasenko. But after Vladdy's 36, the next-highest goal-scorer on the team is David Backes with 20--which would make him a distant 4th on the Bruins. Alexander Steen's 49 points make him 2nd on the Blues, but would be 5th on Boston's squad. Their success is surprisingly in stark contrast to the Dallas Stars, who co-lead the division while ranking 1st in Goals For, but 21st in Goals Against.
But the Blues' 5th-best defense in terms of Goals Allowed is one of the leagues best for a reason. Kevin "Former Future Bruin" Shattenkirk has a plus/minus of -15, essentially because the goals allowed have to go against somebody, but his possession numbers would rank 1st on the Bruins. Their worst defender in Carl Gunnarsson (49.5 CF%) would be middle of the pack on Boston, while guys like Colton Parayko and Joel Edmunsson have disgustingly good possession numbers while playing in St. Louis' Top 4. Against some of the best competition. In what might be the most competitive division in professional sports. Be afraid, fellow Bruins fans. Be very afraid.
Fancy Stats from Last Game
The Bruins doubled-up on New Jersey Tuesday night in Newark, out-shooting the Devils 40-to-15, and out-attempting them by a 2-to-1 ratio. But Corsi don't do squat if you can't attempt the puck in between the 4x6 pipes.