Jarome Iginla, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Cam Ward

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins look to keep rolling against Wild


NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Boston Bruins host the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

When the Bruins host the Wild tonight it’ll mark their first match-up of the season. We’re this late into the season and these interconference foes will go from not playing each other to facing off twice in the next three weeks (April 8 in St. Paul).

Boston has won eight straight games and lead the Eastern Conference by three points. Their control of the Atlantic Division is something to behold as they lead the Montreal Canadiens by 14 points. To say they’re on a roll would be an understatement.

The Bruins have had their line of Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci dominating opponents recently. Iginla has scored four goals and five points in the past four games while Lucic has two goals and six points in that span. Krejci, meanwhile, has 23 points in the past 21 games.

Throw in Tuukka Rask being one of the league’s top goalies and Zdeno Chara being one of the top defensemen and you’ve got a real buzzsaw of a team to get a handle of and that’s not even mentioning how good Patrice Bergeron has been this season as a two-way forward.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,200 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s late NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $275. Starts Monday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Wild, meanwhile, are winless in four of the past five games. That run is discouraging when they’d won five in a row before running into some hard luck. If there’s a bonus in losing, three of those four losses have come in shootouts and the Wild are hanging onto the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Darcy Kuemper has jumped into the fire in goal and helped steady things. After losing Niklas Backstrom for the season to injury and Josh Harding’s struggles with illness, goaltending became a big question. With how Kuemper has played, that’s not the case so much anymore.

The Wild’s offense has been coming from the guys they’ve needed to pick things up to make a playoff push and a dominant top line of their own.

The unit made up of Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, and Mikael Granlund have combined for 35 points since they were united on Jan. 30. Parise has a four-game point streak and has a scorching eight goals and nine assists in the past 13 games. Pominville has eight points in the past five games and Granlund has been electric since returning from Sochi with seven points in eight games.

The Wild could stand to see captain Mikko Koivu pick up his game. Since returning to action on March 3 from an ankle injury, he has just two assists. Ryan Suter is in a similar drought with just three assists since returning from Sochi.

As far as measuring stick games go, this is as big as it gets for the Wild. If they want to see where they’re at as a playoff contender, there’s

Weekend preview: Flyers-Pens rivalry renewed, Bruins look to stay hot

Crosby and Giroux

A quick look ahead at some of the narratives at play this weekend…

Keystone state clash

It’s going to be a big 48 hours in Pennsylvania as the Flyers and Penguins play back-to-back games this Saturday and Sunday. The first affair will go at Wells Fargo (Saturday, 1 p.m. ET), where the two teams have already met once this season — a 4-1 Penguins win, in which Sidney Crosby notched 1G-1A while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 of 25 shots for the  victory.

On Sunday, the two teams will meet at Consol Energy Center (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), where the Flyers have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success over the last three regular seasons. Philly is 4-1-1 in the last six head-to-head matchups in Pittsburgh and has been led by young forward Brayden Schenn, who has five points in the six games.

Streaking B’s

The NHL’s hottest team out of the Olympic break — the Boston Bruins — will look to stay scorching this weekend when they host the Hurricanes at TD Garden on Saturday.

Boston has won seven straight and is 7-1-1 since players returned from the Winter Games in Sochi, collecting 15 of a possible 18 points to open up a massive lead in the Atlantic Division.

Consider this: heading into the Olympic break, the B’s had 78 points, seven clear of second-place Tampa Bay in the division.

Now, Boston has 93 points and is 13 up on second-place Toronto.


— The latest installment of the Freeway Faceoff will go in Los Angeles on Saturday, when the Kings host the Ducks. These two heated California rivals are headed in opposite directions at the moment, as the Ducks are 3-5-2 over their last 10 games while the Kings are 8-2-0 over the same span. The third Cali-based team, San Jose, will be keeping a close eye on this tilt as the Sharks enter the weekend tied on points with the Ducks for top spot in the Pacific Division, with 93.

— On Sunday night, NBCSN brings the latest installment of the Detroit-Chicago rivalry (7:30 p.m. ET). This will be a rematch of last year’s classic Western Conference semifinal playoff, in which the ‘Hawks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Wings in overtime of Game 7.

Rask, Bruins deliver a blow to Coyotes’ playoff hopes


The Phoenix Coyotes had a chance to move into a playoff position on Thursday. Only problem was they ran into the Boston Bruins, playing what could be described as their best hockey of the season.

The Coyotes fell behind by a pair of goals, got one back in the third period to make it a close finish, but wound up losing 2-1 in Boston. The Bruins have now seven straight games, and their current streak has pushed them to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

For the Coyotes, the loss keeps them ninth in the West. They remain one point back of the eighth-place Dallas Stars, however Dallas has two games in hand.

Phoenix pushed in the third period for the equalizer, but ran into the goaltending wall of Tuukka Rask. The Bruins’ netminder was solid in a win over the Montreal Canadiens the previous night, and made a huge, desperation stop off Antoine Vermette with less than four minutes left in the third period of Thursday’s game.