Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask, right, and David Pastrnak celebrate after the Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 3-1 in an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP

Corsi aside, the Bruins head to California on a roll

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If Corsi were everything, the Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn’t be dead last in the standings and the Carolina Hurricanes would be Stanley Cup contenders.

Common sense tells us there’s more to the game of hockey than possessing the puck.

That being said, there’s an undeniably strong relation between teams with high puck-possession stats and teams that win more than they lose.

Which is also common sense, since it’s hard to score if you don’t have the puck first. 

So, what to make of the Boston Bruins? The B’s are 18-7-3 in their last 28 games, and they’ve taken over first place in the Atlantic Division. Yet, according to Puck On Net, their score-adjusted Corsi ranks in the bottom third of the league over that stretch.

It may explain why captain Zdeno Chara is happy with the results, but process-wise, he understands his team has room to improve.

“You want to keep getting points,” Chara told CSN New England. “You want to keep climbing up, but I think the main thing was that the focus was not, and still is not, necessarily how many points we’re going to have at the end of the night but what the performance is going to be like. [The focus] is how we’re going to be improving our game and really focusing on our effort and plays away from the puck, you know, along the boards, you know, winning the battles, races and so on. That’s been the main focus for us.”

Not surprisingly, goaltending has been a big key for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask, after a forgettable October and November, has seen his save percentage climb all the way to .919. In the last month and a bit, he’s won games where he’s faced shot totals of 38, 36, 42, 40, and 51.

Now, granted, an early Bruins lead was a factor in a lot of those games. Last Monday in Florida, they were up 4-1 on the Panthers before the contest was 20 minutes old. Naturally, they hung back in the second and third periods, eventually winning, 5-4, in overtime. That was the game Rask faced 51 shots.

Still, there’s a reason people are curious to see how the Bruins will fare in California. They’re at San Jose tonight, Anaheim Friday, and Los Angeles Saturday. In the aforementioned last 28 games, the Sharks, Ducks and Kings are all in the top five in score-adjusted Corsi. They’ve been winning a lot of games, too. 

“Obviously, I’m sure someone’s going to bring it up, but our record against those teams is not the greatest. They’re always tough buildings to play in, and tough games to play against,” said Rask, per CSN New England“We really have to bring our ‘A game’ in order to get some points out of the trip. It’s one of the most important times of the year and probably one of the biggest trips of the year. So we look forward to the challenge.”

Bruins since Jan. 15 (stats per war-on-ice.com)

Record: 18-7-3
5-on-5 shooting percentage: 8.9 (tied for fourth in NHL)
5-on-5 save percentage: .933 (fifth)
PDO: 102.2 (second)

Related: Rask upping his play along with Bruins teammates

NHL on NBCSN Doubleheader: Red Wings at Flyers; Bruins at Sharks

Flyers Red Wings Hockey
Associated Press
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The 2015-16 season is winding down and the playoff picture is becoming increasingly clear, but the Wild Card spots in the East are far from decided.

The Philadelphia Flyers will have an opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the final playoff spot when they take on the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 pm ET. You can watch the game on NBCSN by clicking here.

The Flyers enter tonight’s game trailing the Red Wings by three points. Philadelphia has two games in hand. Winning tonight’s game would improve their playoff chances significantly. A month ago, their chances of making the postseason looked slim, but their recent run has put them back in striking distance.

“The way we’re playing, [Detroit has] got to be more worried about not making the playoffs than us because … everybody knows how good we’re playing right now and everybody watches the games,” said injured forward Jakub Voracek, per CSN Philly.

The Red Wings are coming off a 1-0 loss (in regulation) to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night. Detroit had their oppotunities, but they were unable to beat Jonathan Bernier. A win would have given them a five-point lead over Philadelphia and more importantly, they would’ve controlled their own destiny.

After the shutout loss to Toronto, the Wings decided it was time to give top prospect Anthony Mantha an opportunity to prove himself. The former 50-goal scorer in the QMJHL is expected to suit up in tonight’s crucial game.

After that game, NBCSN will have coverage of the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks starting at 10:00 pm ET. If you want to watch that game online, you can do so here.

 Neither one of these teams is in danger of missing the playoffs right now, but they both are battling for top spot in their respective divisions.

The Bruins are currently in top spot in the Atlantic Division by a slim one point margin. Boston has been terrific on the road this season (23-7-3), but their recent trips through California have been a bit of a disaster.

“Obviously, I’m sure someone’s going to bring it up, but our record against those teams is not the greatest. They’re always tough buildings to play in, and tough games to play against,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask, per CSN Boston. “We really have to bring our ‘A game’ in order to get some points out of the trip. It’s one of the most important times of the year and probably one of the biggest trips of the year. So we look forward to the challenge.”

The Sharks are five points behind the Kings in the chase for the Pacific Division crown. San Jose is also three points behind Anaheim for second spot in the division. Passing either one of those teams would give them home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Like the Bruins, the Sharks are also playing some good hockey. They’re coming off an impressive win over the Washington Capitals. The Sharks have suffered just one regulation loss in the month of March.

“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff on video, it’s nice to be able to get out and practically work through some situations,” head coach Peter DeBoer said after Monday’s practice, per CSN Bay Area. “We had great jump today. A win always makes you feel better, especially against a good team. We’re in a good place right now.”

Bruins will wear green St. Patrick’s Day jersey during pregame warm up

Bruins Jersey
Boston Bruins on Twitter
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The Boston Bruins will be wearing green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys during their pregame warm up on Saturday afternoon.

You may be asking yourself why they’d celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today if it’s actually next week, but the answer is simple. This is their final home game before the big day.

The green jerseys are a hit with some, but they’re far from unanimous.

fans

Green jerseys aside, Saturday’s game against the Islanders is a huge one for the Bruins. As mentioned above, this is their final home game before they ship out for a four-game road trip that will take them to San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and New York.

The Bruins are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division. They have a one-point lead over the Panthers, but Florida has two games in hand.

Video: Overtime win versus Bruins keeps Hurricanes in playoff hunt

David Pastrnak, Cam Ward
AP Photo
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The Carolina Hurricanes continue to hang around in the Eastern Conference playoff race, while the Boston Bruins moved to the top of the Atlantic Division standings.

Phillip Di Giuseppe scored the winner in overtime, although the goal was subject to a review, and the Hurricanes left Boston with a 3-2 victory on Thursday. The single point puts the Bruins ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic.

It’s also an important win for Carolina considering the Detroit Red Wings — now holding down the first Wild Card spot in the East — also won Thursday.

The Hurricanes remain four points back of the Detroit. They’re also three behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final post-season spot.

From the NHL’s Situation Room blog:

At 1:30 of overtime in the Hurricanes/Bruins game, the Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of a Coach’s Challenge to review whether a Carolina player interfered with Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask prior to Phillip Di Giuseppe’s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.

Here is how this game got to overtime:

Bruins’ forward David Pastrnak scoring his 10th of the season and busting the water bottle behind Cam Ward in the process with a shot to the top shelf.

Video: Bruins’ Liles catches Kucherov with elbow to the head

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Boston Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles caught Nikita Kucherov with an elbow to the head as the Tampa Bay Lightning forward was trying to carry the puck over the Boston blue line during the first period of Tuesday’s game.

Kucherov was being pursued on the back check by Noel Acciari. Liles stepped up, throwing out the left elbow just as Kucherov crossed the blue line.

There was no call against Liles on the play. Kucherov was shaken up but did remain in the game.

Related: Bruins hoping Liles can bolster blue line for playoff run