Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin
Starting goalie: Robin Lehner
Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin
Starting goalie: Robin Lehner
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Tuesday, as the Buffalo Sabres host the Boston Bruins at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.
After lighting up the Blue Jackets by a score of 7-2 last night, will the Bruins have any goals left in them tonight? The answer is probably “yes” for two reasons. First, despite being hit by injuries at various times this season, they’ve been pretty good. Second, they’re playing the Sabres, so…yeah!
Boston comes into tonight’s game sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division, but they’ve been able to make up a lot of ground on the struggling Maple Leafs. Toronto is still four points ahead, but the Bruins still have three games in hand.
The Bruins, who are 4-1-1 in their last six contests, will play on the road tonight before going back home for three straight against Winnipeg, Detroit and Ottawa. They’re recent surge has also allowed them to put a bit of distance between themselves and the other teams in their division (Montreal is five points back, but they’ve played two games more than Boston).
One of the biggest reasons for their recent success is the play of Brad Marchand, who has been terrific since returning from injury. The 29-year-old is currently riding a nine-game point streak. He has five multi-point efforts during his run.
The Sabres will come into this one having dropped four of their last five games. On top of being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference Standings, they also have the second fewest amount of wins on home ice in the league with 4.
Despite their difficult season, defenseman Marco Scandella has kept a pretty positive attitude of late.
“I think we have a really good, cohesive group with the coaches and everybody,” Scandella said, per the Buffalo News. “I just feel like we’re building something here. Statistically it shows in the last seven, eight games that we’ve been playing a lot better.
“Everything is up. Everyone is just having more success. Everyone gets more individual success when the team plays better and the team has success. I think we’re starting to understand that as a group, and it’s huge.”
It looks like the Sabres will have one of those years where they’ll have to take small positives from every game instead of piling up wins. In the end, maybe that will benefit them in the future. But tonight, all they have to focus on is beating a Bruins time that will be playing a second game in as many nights.
There are some streaks in professional sports that simply don’t make sense. How some teams continue to dominate others year after year even though coaches and rosters change is kind of weird.
One of those strange streaks was extended on Thursday night, as the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins for the 11th straight time. The last time the Bruins took down the Caps was in March of 2014. The B’s have made a coaching change, they’ve altered the roster, but they still can’t beat the Caps.
As Washington’s Barry Trotz pointed out earlier this month, every squad seems to have a “unicorn team”. On Dec. 5, Trotz’s team beat the San Jose Sharks for the first time since 2009. Fine, the Capitals and Sharks might not play each other that often, but that’s still an eight-year losing streak.
“Every team has a unicorn team, you do,” Trotz said at the time, per the team’s website. “I was talking to the Columbus broadcasters [on Saturday], and they said, ‘Do you know what your record is against Columbus?’ And I said, “I have no idea.’ They said, ‘It’s pretty good.’
“For years, Nashville was [the Blue Jackets’] unicorn. They could never beat them. I think every team has that. The ones that come to mind for me with this club are San Jose and Dallas. We’ve been a unicorn for a few franchises, too. I just think everybody has one of those.”
Trotz is right. The Capitals have definitely been Boston’s unicorn.
The last time the Bruins took down the Capitals, Claude Julien was still their head coach, Jarome Iginla was the third-leading scorer on the team, and Milan Lucic, Reilly Smith, Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and Andrej Meszaros were still on the roster.
Also, Barack Obama was still the president of the United States, the hoverboard scooter wasn’t invented yet, Nico Hischier was just 15 years old, and Tom Brady was “only” a three-time Super Bowl Champion.
“At some point you definitely want to get it over with and win those games,” Patrice Bergeron said after last night’s 5-3 loss, per NHL.com. It’s not something necessarily that I was thinking before the game … we knew it was a challenge and we had to be good and be smart. A few breakdowns and a little lack of discipline [and they] made us pay is the bottom line.”
Here’s the game-by-game breakdown of the 11-game losing streak:
• Mar. 15, 2015: 2-0 loss on the road (Nicklas Backstrom assisted on both goals, Holtby had the shutout)
• Apr. 8, 2015: 3-0 loss on the road (Backstrom had two more assists, Holtby had the shutout)
• Nov. 5, 2015: 4-1 loss on the road (John Carlson had a goal and an assist)
• Jan. 5, 2016: 3-2 loss at home (Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist)
• Mar. 5, 2016: 2-1 OTL at home (Matt Niskanen scored the game-winning goal)
• Dec. 7, 2016: 4-3 OTL on the road (Justin Williams scored twice, Backstrom netted the OT winner)
• Feb. 1, 2017: 5-3 loss on the road (Backstrom had three points)
• Apr. 8, 2017: 3-1 loss at home (Kevin Shattenkirk scored the game-winning goal)
• Nov. 4, 2017: 3-2 loss at home (Tom Wilson had two goals)
• Dec. 14, 2017: 5-3 loss at home (Alex Chiasson scored twice, Ovechkin had a goal (empty-netter and an assist)
These two teams will play each other one more time (Dec. 28) this season. Will the Bruins be able to figure out how to beat their “unicorn” by then?
The Boston Bruins mounted two successful comebacks in the third period on their way to a 3-2 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.
The Bruins, who have been surging as of late, won for the 10th time in their past 12.
The Red Wings, in quite the opposite scenario, lost their third straight and for the 11th time in their past 12 contests.
By all accounts, the Red Wings deserved a better fate, at least until the third period.
They limited the high-flying Bruins to just two shots in the first period and clawed out a 1-0 lead midway through the second frame, with Tomas Tatar‘s wrist shot finding twine after a perfect screen from Justin Abdelkader.
Boston found the equalizer they needed early in the third frame, and from an unlikely source.
Detroit took the lead for a second time, this time short-handed after David Pastrnak got caught pinching, allowing Dylan Larkin to get behind the Bruins rearguard, scoring a beauty on a breakaway to make it 2-1.
Scoring for Boston had been a strength coming into the game.
David Pastrnak, Boston’s top point-getter, came into the game sporting an eight-game point streak. Brad Marchand, sitting just behind Pastrnak in terms of points, have a five-game heater of his own going.
The dynamic duo wouldn’t be denied; the streaks would continue.
Marchand picked out Pastrnak with a perfect back-door feed to tie the game 2-2 with 1:26 remaining in regulation, forcing overtime.
Tuukka Rask extended his win streak to five games. Rask, who struggled out the gate to start the season, stopped 31 shots and continues to look like the goalie of years past.
Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard