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Preview: Bruins take on Islanders

A special night at TD Garden

NHL: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts

Who: New York Islanders (12-9-2, 26 PTS) vs. Boston Bruins (13-7-4, 30 PTS)

Where: TD Garden

When: The Rick Middleton retirement ceremony will start at 6:30. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:08 PM.

How to Follow Along: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub

SBN Rival Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

Know Your Enemy

Under new head coach Barry Trotz, the New York Islanders are feeling pretty good about themselves as of late. Seen as a bottom feeder at the beginning of the season, the Islanders have found a way to stick around past Thanksgiving. They are currently one point out of a playoff spot in the weakest Metropolitan Division we’ve seen in quite some time.

The Islanders have been led by Josh Bailey who has 21 points in 23 games. Surprisingly, Jordan Eberle has lagged behind for the blue and orange. His 11 points in 23 games is well below expected, but may be due to some bad luck. While he has netted 6 goals, his teammates haven’t been burying his setup passes.

Luckily for the Bruins, the Islanders are still awful defensively. While the Islanders have the seventh-best goaltending at 5v5 this season led by...*checks notes*...Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner, it hasn’t been because of good defense. The Islanders give up a lot of good scoring chances.

Game Notes

  • The Bruins have fared well without Chara and Bergeron. A 3-2 loss in an even game in Toronto Monday night was an okay loss for the Bruins, but they need to bounce back against a much weaker opponent.
  • How will the ceremony effect the start of the game? Waiting an extra hour certainly isn’t fun and the last ceremony the Bruins sat through led to a 7-0 loss.
  • Mat Barzal makes Bruins-Islanders an interesting matchup. The Bruins passed up on Barzal three times in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. It was mentioned on the 31 Thoughts Podcast last season that Barzal told an organization (speculating the Bruins) that the team would “regret it” if they didn’t pick him. Currently Barzal has more points than the three Bruins draft picks have games played.
  • JFK took a step back in Toronto. Colby Cave will be looking to take advantage of that as he is expected to center Marchand and Pastrnak.