For the first time in 3 days, Bruins’ hockey is finally returning, and all is right with the world again. Boston improved to 10-6-0 on Sunday in Colorado with a 2-0 win over the Av’s. In there first game since then, Boston hits the ice in Minnesota to take on the Wild, who absolutely annihilated the B’s on home ice last month. Back when Rask was hurt, the Wild rolled into TD Garden and scored 5 goals in a shutout victory. Boston is now a much better team defensively, and Rask is healthy, so we’ll see if this game is any different.
David Pastrnak has missed the last few days of practice, and has been ruled out for tonight’s game. It is not really known the extent of his injury, but the league’s second-best goal scorer is going to be watching from the press box tonight. Riley Nash is slated to ride shotgun on the Marchand-Bergeron line, in Pastrnak’s place. Nash only has one goal but has shown, when he isn’t playing with Hayes, that he is top-6 potential.
Not from a record standpoint, but as a team, they are struggling. The offense has scored 2+ goals in only 2 of their last 6 games, and have been shutout twice in that span. With Rask playing the way he is, it should keep Minnesota’s low-scoring streak alive. Without, Pastrnak, it is better for the Bruins to face a low-powered offense where they will not need to light up the scoreboard, and just need to play a smart game.
3 Days of Rest:
Boston has not played in 3 whole days (4 by the time the puck drops). Hopefully, this means we will see a rejuvenated and energetic team in the first period. They had been playing at an incredibly high rate, and looked tired in the Arizona-Colorado back-to-back. The extra days of practice must have been a good thing too. It should have allowed Boston to work on some weak areas of their game (Power Play, Defense, etc.). But, knowing the past, we will probably have a rusty start to this game, and end up behind after the first.
1. Fast Start –
Boston, as mentioned, is coming off a 3 day break. Minnesota, however, is playing their 5th game in 8 days, and their 4th in 6. Boston needs to exploit this by pushing the pace early, and tiring out the Minnesota defense.
2. 3rd Line Needs to Step Up –
Without Pastrnak, the Bruins need to find production from their lower lines. Specifically the 3rd. The 3rd line, no matter the combination, has been the least productive group this season. If they’re going to win tonight, they’re going to need to step up.
3. Forget About Being Shutout –
The Bruins need to put the 5-0 shutout last month out of their minds tonight. There were many circumstances beyond the Bruins control that contributed to the loss. Tonight, only Pastrnak’s injury stands in the way. Rask is healthy, the defense is good, and we aren’t playing at home. We can win.
Prediction: BOS 3-1 MIN
With the struggling Minnesota offense, and Rask playing like he is, it’s almost guaranteed to be low-scoring.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Can Boston win or am I blindly optimistic? Let me know in the comments and share with others to get their opinions.
Trivia: Who won the 2001 Art Ross Trophy?