NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Wednesday night. In the early game, the Boston Bruins will host the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch that game online by clicking here.
The Bruins and Canadiens didn’t play in October, November or December, but this will be the second time they’ll go head-to-head in four days. What makes the schedule even weirder, is that they’ll play each other again on Saturday night in Montreal. That’s three games in eight days. Very strange scheduling. Anyway, Brad Marchand scored the game-winning goal in the shootout during the first meeting between these two teams.
As entertaining as the first matchup was, it will be remember for the scary injury to Phillip Danault that occurred in the second period when he took a Zdeno Chara shot to the head.
Thankfully, Danault is back home after spending Saturday evening in the hospital, but he’s out of the lineup with concussion-like symptoms for now.
“I obviously spoke to Phillip a number of times. I talked to him right after the game and wanted to make sure he was okay, and he texted me back that he’s doing fine. He’s been released [from the hospital] and that’s very positive, good news,” said Chara, per NBC Sports Boston. “It’s obviously very unfortunate that it’s something that happens quite often, but it’s something you never want to see with somebody getting hit and hurt. I’m very happy he’s going to recover fully and hopefully he’s back on the ice and playing hockey [soon] like we all do.”
Putting that scary news aside, the B’s have been rolling for a while now. Even though they dropped an OT decision to the Stars on Monday afternoon, They haven’t dropped a game in regulation in their last 13 contests (9-0-4). They’re last defeat in regulation came against the Washington Capitals back on Dec. 14.
They’re currently second in the Atlantic Division. Boston is two points ahead of Toronto (Bruins have four games in hand) and nine points back of the Lightning (Bruins have two games in hand).
Meanwhile, in Montreal, things haven’t been going smoothly at all in 2017-18. A team that’s already thin down the middle is without Danault, and they’ve decided to move a struggling Jonathan Drouin back to the wing. All that means is that Jacob De La Rose, who’s known as more of a defense-first center, is on an offensive line with Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk.
Yea, the Canadiens are that desperate.
This will also mark the first time that Claude Julien returns to Boston since he was fired by the Bruins last February. You can read all about Julien’s return by clicking here.
They’re currently nine points behind Pittsburgh for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. It sure looks like they’ll be sellers at the trade deadline.
Speaking of the Pens, they’ll head to Anaheim to take on the Ducks in the late game. Puck-drop in that one is set for 10:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.
Don’t look now, but the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions seem to have woken up from their slumber. After being inconsistent throughout the first half of the season, they’ve now rattled off four consecutive wins over the Islanders, Bruins, Red Wings and Rangers.
“I think we’ve been more of a threat off the rush and I think our offensive zone play has been very strong,” head coach Mike Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “As I’ve said on a number of occasions since I’ve taken this team over, if we’re going to be the team that we want to become, we have to be able to generate offense different ways . . . whether it be on the power play, whether it be off the rush or whether it be off our own puck-pursuit game by playing behind teams’ defensemen. That’s what I see.”
Pittsburgh’s captain, Sidney Crosby, has been lighting it up during the winning streak. Crosby has registered at least two points in every game. He’s accumulated 11 points in his last four contests. Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel both have eight points during that time frame.
The Ducks are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, but this next stretch will be key if they want to get back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Starting tonight, they’ll play their next five games at home. After their matchups with the Pens, they’ll take on the Kings, Sharks, Rangers and Jets at the Honda Center.
Anaheim had been playing better hockey of late, but they’ve now dropped three of their last four games coming into a tough clash against the Penguins.
These home games are huge because the Ducks are four points back of the Kings for the last Wild Card spot.
This will also be the second and final game of Andrew Cogliano‘s suspension that put an end to his 830-game iron man streak. He’ll be eligible to return to the lineup for Friday night’s game against Los Angeles.
Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.