Just The Facts:
When: 7:00 PM ET
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Why do you care: Could the Bruins have had Matt Barzal? Yeah, but they’re playing really good hockey regardless, and look to carry energy from their 6-1 victory over the Coyotes to a stiffer matchup.
Where to watch: NESN, MSG+
Where to listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub
Aside from a stretch of 10 minutes to start the second without a shot, the Bruins played an utterly dominant game, putting up a 6-pack against the Arizona Coyotes. Riley Nash continues to stand out as a surprising output of offensive firepower and goal scoring chances, while Tuukka Rask played yet another solid game in net.
The Isles are seeing a lot of success so far this season, including production from Barzal, the always deadly John Tavares, currently 3rd in the NHL with 17 goals, Josh Bailey, tied for the team lead in points with Tavares with 31, and a host of depth scoring. It always stings to see Johnny Boychuk not in the Spoked B, but with Nick Leddy, they make a shut down top defensive pairing. In goal, you could flip a coin to see who would start between Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss. Who the Bruins will face? We won't know until closer to gamete.
So what's the big deal about this game? It’s the level of competition. While it’s great to see the B’s put up the points in their game against Arizona, they aren't on the same level the Islanders are at this point in the season. Can the Bruins get it up for an inter-conference bout? If Tuukka Rask starts, can he put up yet another solid performance? It’s not the playoffs by any stretch of the means, but the Bruins ability to make the playoffs depends on how they play against contenders for the wildcard spot like New York.
Players to Watch:
- Riley Nash has been really involved in the offense lately, setting up goals like the one to Danton Heinen, even scoring himself on nicely timed shots. It’s good to see depth making a big impact like he has as of late.
- Watch the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak throughout the game. No, not just because they're fun, but Bruce Cassidy might think about spreading out the firepower and putting either Heinen or Bjork on the top pairing and putting Pasta with Krejci.
- Charlie McAvoy continues to be a stud on defense, eating up minutes as a rookie some veterans dream of. His pairing with Zdeno Chara has benefited both defenseman tremendously, and hopefully the trend continues tonight.
- The big question mark is who starts in net for the Isles: Halak or Greiss? Halak has the better numbers this season, but Greiss has proven to be tricky, and based on his playing schedule, could be between the pipes.
- As flashy as Matt Barzal has been, one of the biggest surprises and a welcome return to NHL success is former Edmonton Oiler Jordan Eberle. With Barzal on the same line, he's been the beneficiary of a lot of chances, posting a 12-9-21 stat sheet so far.
Boy, does this team feel like a completely different one from just four years ago. Look at this game featuring old faces like Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Dan Paille, Chris Kelly, I could go on and on. Also a BU connection in net for the Islanders, with former #1 draft pick Rick DiPietro.