As America watched its future be decided on Tuesday night, the Bruins were engaged in a tight battle of their own, losing 3-2 to their longtime rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. I, like everybody else, was glued to the news on Tuesday and did not watch the game. If you’re wondering (which you’re probably not) why there wasn’t a post-game report, that would be the reason.
But I’m back, tonight, as the Bruins host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at TD Garden. The B’s and Jackets faced-off in Columbus to open the season on October 13th, with Boston coming out on top 6-3. Columbus has since become a very good team in the middle of the east, off to a 6-3-2 record (14 points) due, in large part, to the fact that they have given up only 23 goals (2nd lowest in the league). While the Blue Jackets have played fewer games than most of the league, that is still an impressive number. Boston’s offensive game from last season has not been as strong, and overcoming the seemingly solid Columbus defense is a potential issue. But we can only speculate. It’s up to the players to play.
Stories of the Game
PASTRNAK IS FLAMING HOT RIGHT NOW –
David Pastrnak is on the streak of his life right now, and it’s just the third year of his career. Pasta has scored in the last 5 games he has played, bringing him to 9 goals on the season. Easily one of the stars of the next 15 years, he sits tied for 2nd in the league in goals scored, and is leading the Bruins with ease. I know in the last two pre-game reports, I’ve used Pastrnak in the keys to the game, but tonight, I will refrain, but know that his hot hand is something the Bruins are looking to capitalize on. Let’s just hope we’re not left disheartened in June when his contract expires, as we have a history of letting young talent slip through our hands.
CLOSE GAME IN MONTREAL –
It was not a win, but the close game in Montreal on Tuesday is something Boston can look to build on. They lost only by a goal, and a goal scored in the last minute, no less. Not a bad day in the neighbor country. With Montreal sitting at the top of the league, and Boston starting rookie goaltender Zane McIntyre, it was surprising to many that the game was as close as it ended up being. I expected more goals on either end, but it was a closely contested battle, and one that should have Bruins’ fans excited.
POWER PLAY PERFORMING PARTICULARLY PROFICIENT –
(Say that 10 times fast) It’s true, the Achilles’ heel of the early season for Boston, has recently surged. In the course of the last 2 games, the power-play has scored 4 times in 10 opportunities. It has risen from dead last, to 23rd in the league in efficiency, now at 14.6%. A large part of this success has been the line combinations being altered. Last year, Boston’s first unit was so strong, that it would be out for most of the power play, and was never touched unless a player was injured. This year, however, with only Loui Eriksson missing from the group, they have struggled to find consistent performance from the top guys. But, the second unit has been strong, and with a few minor changes to the top line, it has begun to get chances as of late. The NHL is a living being, and always is changing. What worked a year ago, doesn’t work today. The Bruins have work still to do, but they are on track to get the power play back to last year’s numbers.
3 Keys: Presented by Nobody
1. Protect the House –
Tuukka Rask is expected to get the start tonight, and the defense needs to be ready. It’s always tough to predict how a goalie will do after having a game off, no matter how good they are. It is imperative that the defensemen do a good job of not allowing many shots to get through, and allow Rask to see the shots that do, unobstructed. The less shots he faces, the less chance of a goal, the more confidence he has going forward. I know he’s not lacking confidence, but a good night tonight will be good following the game off.
2. Get the Arena Going –
Massachusetts, for the most part, is upset. A lot of the state was not happy with the results of the Election, and last night, the city of Boston faced a group of protesters, speaking out against the president-elect. Tonight, hopefully, the protests will have died down, and not take away from both attendance, and attitude of those at TD Garden. But, a lot of the people of Boston need something to cheer about, and they’re clearly getting desperate, so give them a good game. A goal in the first period will get the crowd buzzing, and if they can manage a second goal in the opening frame, the place will erupt in cheers. Basically, 2 first period goals is a guaranteed win tonight.
3. Keep up the Good Work
3/8 on Monday and 1/2 on Tuesday. That’s how Boston’s power play has performed in the last 2 games. An impressive turnaround from the numbers they started the year with. They are going to need to keep the power play rolling against Columbus’s solid defense.
Prediction: COL 1-3 BOS
*It was 6-3 the last time these two met, Boston winning, but Rask was playing hurt, and the defense was brand new. Now with about 15% of the year down, Rask looks sharp, and the defense is playing well. Look for a big difference in the first period compared to opening night.
What do you think will happen? What are your 3 keys? Are you threatened by Columbus? Let me know in the comments. Help out the page by sharing this article on social media. Go B’s!