Alex Steen

Game of the night: Blues at Bruins

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If you can only watch one hockey game tonight, you probably wouldn’t go wrong picking the St. Louis Blues (14-3-3) at the Boston Bruins (14-6-1).

Both teams come into the matchup on a hot stretch. Boston’s won five of its last six; St. Louis’ entire season has been a hot stretch, really.

We’re hesitant to call this a possible Stanley Cup Final preview, given so many East-West matchups could qualify as that in today’s NHL, but it wouldn’t be untrue. And what a Final that could be — two big, tough teams that don’t mind getting their noses dirty, but also boast their share of talent.

If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Blues’ team from previous editions, it’s the ability to put the puck in the net at a high rate. St. Louis has the No. 2-ranked offense in the NHL, averaging 3.40 goals per game, and led by Alexander Steen’s 17 tallies. Last season, the Blues averaged 2.38 goals per game.

If there’s one thing that separates this season’s Bruins’ team from previous editions, it may be rookie defenseman Torey Krug, a dynamic offensive threat on the back end who has 12 points in 21 games. The 22-year-old has his issues defensively, but his offense makes up for those, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien.

“I think you just let him play,” Julien told NHL.com. “His game offensively is almost a natural part of it, so you let him do that stuff. I don’t think there’s too many times where he makes bad decisions up front. If he does, it’s going to happen once in a while. There’s always a risk and reward; you want to minimize that risk. That’s what you want to do. But right now I think he’s doing well offensively, so I’m certainly not going to take that part of his game away from him.”

With Seidenberg hurt, Bruins recall Miller

KevanMiller
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The Boston Bruins have made an emergency recall, bringing up defenseman Kevan Miller from AHL Providence.

Miller, 26, was summoned from Providence to replace Dennis Seidenberg, who was injured during Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the New York Rangers. The specifics of Seidenberg’s injury are unclear, but it’s believed to be a lower-body issue.

Already without Adam McQuaid (hip), the B’s were forced to dig deep into their defense depth with this recall. While the club likes Miller’s toughness and tenacity, he wasn’t projected to be in the mix this season — he’s never actually played in an NHL contest, spending his entire four-year pro career in the American League.

Boston plays St. Louis on Thursday night, and it’s very likely Miller will be making his NHL debut.

Video: Bruins beat Rangers in Nash’s return

nashreturnsgetty
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There was some good news for the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

They generated a 44-22 shot disparity against the Boston Bruins and Rick Nash returned to action. Despite that, the Boston Bruins won 2-1:

Note: you know things are getting a little frosty in New York when fans give a “Bronx cheer” to Henrik Lundqvist.

Sabres get permission to speak with Bruins assistant GM

patlafontainegetty
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Pat LaFontaine (pictured) and the Buffalo Sabres have received permission from Boston to speak with Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning, according to a wide variety of sources, including CSNNE.com.

Numerous reports indicate that Benning joins the following list of candidates: Jason Botterill, Rick Dudley and Paul Fenton. The CBC’s Elliotte Friedman points out that Benning, Botterill and Dudley have some connections to the Buffalo organization.

(For more on Botterill, click here.)

CSNNE.com points out that Benning came over to Boston in 2006 after serving scouting duties with the Sabres. The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa tweets that Benning was in Buffalo when they drafted players including Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille.

Friedman provides some insight, asking how Benning would feel if the Sabres believe that their rebuild can be a quick one:

I’d love to hear Benning’s answer to this question. His playing career was hurt when Toronto Maple Leafs rushed him (with Fred Boimistruck and Bob McGill) in 1981. He is probably the least known of the candidates. But it was a huge loss (and Boston’s gain) when he left during the Tom Golisano era. Benning has some very big fans in the scouting community. “Do not sleep on his chances,” one source said.

Interesting.

Get your game notes: Bruins at Rangers

Johnny Boychuk, Derek Dorsett, Gregory Campbell
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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Boston Bruins starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— Since 2007-08, the Rangers and Bruins have met 23 times during the regular season. Eighteen of those games were decided by one goal (including two in overtime and five in a shootout). Six of those games ended with a 1-0 score. New York won 14 of the 23 meetings (14-7-2) while outscoring Boston 48-43. (Note: Including the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinal series, 21 of their last 28 meetings have been decided by one goal.)

— Over the weekend, the Rangers became only the second team in NHL history to split two games on consecutive days, both by a 1-0 score line (def. Montreal on Nov. 16, lost to Los Angeles on Nov. 17), The 1999-2000 Sabres (def. Ottawa on Jan. 28, 2000, lost to Boston on Jan. 29, 2000) were the first. Former Rangers goalie, Martin Biron, tended the goal for Buffalo in both games. (Elias Sports Bureau)

— Since allowing goals on five consecutive opposition power plays in late-October, the Bruins have killed off 32 consecutive penalties, their longest PK streak since Mar. 7-25, 1999 (also 32 straight). The longest PK streak of the 2013-14 season is 35 straight, by the Capitals, Oct. 12-Nov. 2.

— The Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who is expected to make his 28th consecutive start vs. Boston (dating back to Jan. 13, 2007), has the best regular-season home record vs. the Bruins among all active goaltenders with at least 10 appearances. (Elias Sports Bureau)

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— Patrice Bergeron is expected to suit up in his 600th NHL game, all with the Bruins. Only 15 other forwards have represented the historic franchise (90th season) in as many regular-season games.

— Loui Eriksson has an active six-game point streak (two goals, five assists). If he registers a point tonight, he will tie David Krejci for the longest point streak by a Bruins player this season.

— For no team does scoring the game’s first goal affect the eventual outcome more than the Rangers. They are 9-1-0 (.900) when scoring first, and 1-9-0 (.100) when allowing the first goal.

— Bruins defensemen have scored 25% of their team’s goals this season (14 of 56), putting the team up near the top of the league in blueline scoring. Torey Krug’s six goals equal or eclipse the combined goal output of 11 other teams’ defensive corps. The league leaders in goals from defensemen:

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