NHL on NBCSN: Bruins vs. Islanders in clash of East powers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Thursday’s matchup between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Bruins and Islanders head into Thursday in some of the league’s most comfortable playoff positions. Even so, don’t be surprised if recent events leave them both a little unsettled.

Just a bump in the road for the Islanders?

Brushing off a recent stumble should be easier for the Islanders.

Yes, it had to be jarring for Barry Trotz to see his old team, the Nashville Predators, absolutely bash his Islanders 8-3 on Tuesday. Depicting it as an anomaly isn’t very difficult, however, since that loss ended a three game-winning streak, and merely pushed the Isles to an impressive 22-8-2 record.

“You just put it in perspective,” Trotz said on Wednesday, via the Islanders’ website. “We’re not pleased that we lost 8-3, that’s for sure, but you’ve got to put it into the right context. I’ve tried to put every win and loss [in the right context]. I’ve probably been more mad after a couple of wins than an 8-3 loss last night because some games we stunk and we stole the game. Last night it just wasn’t our night.”

Dismissing the challenge isn’t totally appropriate for the Islanders, mind you. The Athletic’s Arthur Staple points out (sub required) that the Islanders allowed two power-play goals in three of their last five games, and could struggle similarly against Boston’s dangerous man advantage.

But the Islanders have less to be concerned about than their opponents.

[COVERAGE OF ISLANDERS – BRUINS BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Bumbling Bruins

Forgive the B’s if they feel like November’s eight-game winning streak is a distant memory.

The Bruins started 2019-20 at a feverishly hot pace, with some of their numbers looking unsustainable. Consider their latest stretch the hockey equivalent of a bill coming due.

Following that eight-game winning streak, the Bruins lost five games in a row from Dec. 5-12. They also began their current four-game homestand with a 4-3 OT loss to lowly Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Panicking altogether would be silly considering Boston’s 21-7-7 record (representing a 10-point edge for the Atlantic Division title), but this team is shooting for more meaningful banners. The Bruins play their next three games at home before the holiday break, and six of their next eight at home overall, so this is a good time to wake up.

Patrice Bergeron indicated to The Athletic’s Joe McDonald (sub required) that the Bruins are aware of the opportunity, and challenge.

“You break it down in small portions and right now it’s four big games before having a couple of days of rest, so leave everything on the line,” Bergeron said. “We know what’s at stake. It’s big points on the table and we’re ready for them.”

Interesting test for Islanders and Bruins

The Bruins and Islanders meet for the first of their three 2019-20 regular season matchups on Thursday. While some might peg the Bruins as a bit more explosive, Islanders defenseman Devon Toews notes enough similarities that this could come down to attention to detail.

“It sounds a lot like us when you look at it,” Toews said about the Bruins’ style and strengths. “We give teams a fit in our own end and they do the same. We’re going to be challenged to create our own opportunities as well as shut their opportunities down. They’ve got great goaltending and we’ve got great goaltending. It’s going to be a battle of little details.”

Kathryn Tappen will anchor Thursday night’s studio coverage with Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick. Brendan Burke, AJ Mleczko, and Pierre McGuire will call the action from TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.