Game #18 Preview: Bruins host slumping Blue Jackets

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Game #18: Columbus Blue Jackets (6-10-1) vs. Boston Bruins (11-5-1)

Time: 7 PM

Location: TD Garden

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Bruins, winners of three straight, will play host to the slumping Blue Jackets Thursday night. This meeting will mark the second of three scheduled games between the clubs this season.

Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson all tallied goals for the Bruins in their 3-1 victory over Columbus back on Oct. 12. Tuukka Rask turned aside 27 of 28 shots in the contest. Jack Johnson scored the lone Blue Jacket goal.

Columbus has lost six of their last seven, while the Bruins have won four of their last six. They are 3-0-1 on their current home stand and want nothing more than to close it out on a high note before departing for Ottawa on Friday.

Boston is playing with grit, determination and physicality. Their top line is setting the score sheet ablaze. The Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Loui Erkisson line is finally beginning to gel. The Bruins should emerge victorious if they can piece together another strong 60-minute effort.

Signs point toward Chad Johnson starting in place of Rask. Rask has started 15 of the last 17 games. Johnson lost his last start against the Islanders on Nov. 2.

Projected Lineup:

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson

Soderberg-Kelly-Smith

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk

Seidenberg-Hamilton

Krug-Bartkowski

Chad Johnson

Frank O’Laughlin-Senior NHL Contributor-TitleTown Sports Network

Game #15 Preview: Bruins host the skidding Panthers

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Game #15: Bruins 8-5-1 vs. Panthers 3-8-4

Time: 7pm

Location: TD Garden

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The much-anticipated return of Tim Thomas to the TD Garden will not happen Thursday night. Thomas did make the trip to Boston with his teammates, but a nagging groin injury will keep the veteran goaltender sidelined for the showdown with the Black and Gold.

The Bruins defeated the Panthers in Sunrise back on October 17, 3-2. It was game in which Thomas did start. Reilly Smith tallied the game winner in the contest.

Though Boston’s main focus will be on finding a way to resurrect their less than stellar play of late. The Bruins are a dismal 1-3-1 in their last five games. Facing a struggling Florida team could just be what the doctor ordered given the 1-5-4 skid that they’re on.

Florida’s goaltending and defense is suspect at best and this tilt presents a perfect time for the Bergeron line to get things turned around. It all starts with piecing together a full sixty-minute effort and that has certainly been lacking of late, as Claude Julien’s club has allowed the opening goal in four straight.

Projected Bruins Lineup:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson

Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk

Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton

Tory Krug-Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

Frank O’Laughlin -Senior NHL Contributor-TitleTown Sports Network

Game #14 Preview: Seguin returns to Boston

Florida Panthers v Dallas Stars

Game #14: Bruins 8-5-0 vs. Stars 6-6-2

Time: 7pm

Location: TD Garden

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

Tonight’s tilt with the Dallas Stars marks the inaugural return of Tyler Seguin to Boston since his infamous departure this past summer. Lets not forget old friend Rich Peverley will also be paying a visit as well. Loui Eriksson will be skating against his former employer, as he was dealt to the Black and Gold in exchange for Seguin.

Loui Erkisson will play tonight after missing five games with concussion like symptoms. Johnny Boychuk will also lace them up. Claude Julien spoke about the duo, saying, “their status is good.”

Though all eyes will be on Seguin, how he conducts himself in facing his former club and what the crowd’s reaction will be. Seguin is off to a hot start with Dallas. He has six goals and nine assists. Peverley has also chipped in seven points thus far.

Projected Bruins Lineup:

Lucic- Krejci- Iginla

Marchand- Bergeron- Eriksson

Soderberg- Kelly- Smith

Paille- Campbell- Thornton

Chara- Boychuk

Seidenberg- Hamilton

Krug- McQuaid

Rask

Frank O’Laughlin – Senior NHL Contributor-TitleTown Sports Network

Game #10 Preview: Bruins seek 5th straight win against Devils

David Clarkson, Zach Parise, Zdeno Chara

Game #10: New Jersey Devils (1-5-4) vs. Boston Bruins (7-2)

Time: 7:00pm

Location: TD Garden

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Bruins and Devils will link up for the first of three scheduled meetings this season on Saturday night at the Garden. Boston defeated New Jersey in each of their three contests a year ago.

The Black and Gold are currently riding a four game winning streak and will have a fantastic opportunity to extend that against a struggling Devils squad. New Jersey has just one regulation victory thus far. They have had their fair share of issues scoring the puck as they have only netted twenty goals through ten games.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky and former Bruin Jaromir Jagr lead the Devils offensive attack. Zidlicky plays a strong offensive game from the backend and has notched eight assists. Jagr leads all Devil forwards in points with seven. Damien Brunner and Patrick Elias each have three goals while old friend Michael Ryder has tallied four.

Martin Brodeur recently anointed Cory Schneider as the team’s number one goalie. Both Devil goalies have been less than stellar, but it’s been Schneider who’s looked more capable of the two. His 2.14 GAA is more than one point better than Brodeur’s 3.40 GAA. Though Brodeur will start in this tilt because Schneider is out with a lower-body injury.

David Krejci and Milan Lucic are off to scorching hot starts. Both guys have ten points. The duo has a combined +17 alongside line mate Jarome Iginla. Krejci holds the team lead in assists with eight and potted the game-winning goal against the Sharks on Thursday with just 0.8 seconds remaining. Lucic leads the club with five goals.

Iginla also scored his first goal as Bruin on Thursday and will look to build upon that momentum. Tuukka Rask continues to dazzle each time out. Rask stopped 38 of 39 shots against a potent San Jose attack. He improved to 6-2 on the year and lowered is GAA an astonishing 1.26.

Loui Eriksson will be inactive for the Bruins as he is battling concussion like symptoms stemming from the despicable John Scott hit this past Wednesday. Ryan Clowe is out for the Devils.

Projected Bruins lines:

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Smith-Bergeron-Marchand

Soderberg-Kelly-Caron

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk

Seidenberg-Hamilton

Krug-McQuaid

Rask

 Frank O’Laughlin-Senior NHL Contributor-TitleTown Sports Network

 

 

Game #8 Preview: Bruins visit the lowly Sabres

 

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Game #8: Boston Bruins (5-2) vs. Buffalo Sabres (1-8-1)

Time: 8:00 PM

Location: First Niagra Center

TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Bruins will bring their three-game road trip to a close on Wednesday night in Buffalo. These longtime divisional rivals will be linking up for the first of five meetings slated for this season. These two clubs are off to very different starts, but a hard fought game should be expected considering the amount of bad blood between them. The Sabres won the season series a year ago, 3-2.

Buffalo has looked atrocious so far this season, as if they’re picking up were they left off at that end of the 2012-2013 campaign. They posted a 12th place finish and early signs indicate another season full of disappointment. The Bruins meanwhile have played a respectable brand of hockey and find themselves very much in the mix of things here at the onset.

Boston will be looking for their fourth win in five tries, while Buffalo has yet to record a regulation win given the fact that their lone victory came in a shootout. They may have to wait even longer considering the opponent.

The Bruins are fresh off of an impressive beat down of Tampa Bay this past weekend. Twelve players notched at least a point in the victory. David Krejci, Adam McQuaid and Shawn Thornton all scored their first goal of the season in the contest. Reilly Smith continues to impress, as he added an assist and extended his point streak to four games.

Tuukka Rask continues to shine as well. Rask shutout of the Bolts helped lower his GAA to 1.29. He has now allowed one goal or fewer in five starts this season.

Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson lead the Sabre offensive attack, though each have performed less than satisfactory thus far. Historically, Vanek is a Bruins killer. He has 28 goals and 26 assists in 48 career games against the Bruins. He even had himself a five point game back on January 31 in Boston. Another breakout showing might be just what his team is in need of.

The Sabres are 0-2-1 in divisional play this season and each loss came by just a lone goal. It’s a clear that they play their familiar foes closely.

Carl Soderberg tallied an assist in his first start of the season on Saturday and will be in the lineup again.

Projected Bruins lines:

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Smith-Bergeron-Eriksson

Marchand-Kelly-Soderberg

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk

Seidenberg-Bartkowski

Krug-McQuaid

Rask

Frank O’Laughlin-Senior NHL Contributor-TitleTown Sports Network

 

 

 

Game #7 Preview: Bruins to battle Lightning

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Game #7: Boston Bruins (4-2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5-2)

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: Tampa Bay Times Forum

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Bruins will pay a visit to Tampa Bay Saturday evening for the second game of a three game roadie. For the second time this season these two divisional clubs will square off. Boston defeated the Bolts on opening night at the Garden, 3-1.

Since falling to the Bruins back on October third, Tampa Bay has only lost a single contest, while winning five. The Bolts currently sit two points ahead of the Bruins in the Atlantic Division standings. Their early season success can be attributed to a lethal offensive attack and their ability to make late game rallies.

Steven Stamkos leads the Lightening with five goals and five assists. Teddy Purcell, Marty St. Louis and Valtteri Filppula all have netted four goals apiece. The Bolts have scored 22 combined goals as a team, 11 of which have come in the third period. Though this statistic comes as no surprise considering the Lightning lead the NHL in third period goals last season.

With that being said, Boston better be extra careful if they happened to find themselves playing with a lead on Saturday. This being especially true after they nearly squandered away two points in the third period of Thursday night’s game against Florida.

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop has been red hot. He is 5-0 to start the season with 1.57 GAA and a .943 SV%. His play has been a huge boost to a team that struggled a year ago keeping pucks out of the net. The defense in front of him has been impressive. Each Tampa blue liner has a positive (+/-) rating.

In regards to the Bruins, Claude Julien will be looking for his team to string together a full sixty minutes of quality hockey. Following Thursday’s victory, Claude Julien said, “I can’t say were pleased with our game.”

Boston started off like a house on fire against the Panthers. They built an early 2-0 lead on goals by Dougie Hamilton and Danny Paille. The Bruins visibly let up after, as the strayed away from their winning formula, surrendering the lead and forcing themselves into a situation where they fortunately won the game on a late third period goal by Reilly Smith.

Reilly Smith hopes to continue and build upon the success he has had since joining Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson on the second line. Tuukka Rask has been outstanding. He stopped 27 of 29 shots against the Panthers.

The Bruins will need Rask to remain locked in, as they will be facing one of the NHL’s top offenses. The Bolts have registered 19 goals over their last five games. They are 4-1 in those contests. He’ll surely be tested in this one.

Carl Soderberg has been cleared for a return and according to coach Julien, there is a “good chance” that he’ll play against Tampa Bay. More likely than not Jordan Caron will be scratched, but it won’t be surprising to see Brad Marchand watch this tilt from the press box. Marchand has played poorly thus far and could benefit from a wake up call.

Projected Bruins lines:

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Smith-Bergeron-Eriksson

Marchand/Soderberg-Kelly-Caron/Soderberg

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk

Seidenberg-Hamilton

Krug-McQuaid

Rask

Frank O’Laughlin – Senior Contributor – Titletown Sports Network 

 

 

 

Game #6 Preview: Bruins to face Tim Thomas and the Panthers

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers

Game #6: Boston Bruins (3-2) vs. Florida Panthers (2-5)

Time: 7:30 PM

Location: BB&T Center

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Bruins will prop the puck with the Panthers, an Atlantic Division newcomer, Thursday evening at the BB&T Center in Florida. This meeting marks the first of five scheduled showdowns this season. The Black and Gold defeated the Panthers in all three head-to-head matchups last year.

Tim Thomas will be the talk of the town leading up to the opening faceoff, as the longtime Boston net minder will make his first start against his former employer since departing Boston following the 2011-2012 campaign. Florida signed the seasoned veteran this past summer and he will get the start in this one.

Thomas played 378 games with the Bruins from 2002-2012.

Thomas has struggled out of the gate with his new club. He is 1-2 with an abysmal 5.02 GAA. The Panthers have displayed poor team defense thus far and are susceptible to a superior, disciplined offensive attack. Florida does possess an arsenal of young, yet skillful forwards though.

Thomas Fleischmann and Brad Boyes are both off to hot starts for the Panthers. Fleischmann has notched seven points, including six assists. Boyes has netted four goals. Reigning rookie of the year Jonathan Huberdeau and veteran Kris Versteeg, are two players who cannot be overlooked.

Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert are a pair of bonafide NHL defenseman manning the Florida blue line.

As far as the Bruins, well, they’ll look to get more out of guys like Jarome Iginla and Brad Marchand. Both have been quiet at the onset. The two have just one point apiece and could certainly find success against a beatable Panthers defense.

Marchand has spent time skating on the Bruins third line the past two games, as Reilly Smith has been promoted in place of him. Marchand must produce in order for the Bruins to be successful in what they hope to accomplish offensively. In regards to Iginla, it may be just a matter of him pressing to get his first goal with the Bruins out of the way.

Milan Lucic, Boston’s points leader, and David Krejci have created numerous chances alongside Iginla. Iginla registered five shots on goal in his last outing against Detroit. When asked about having not found the net yet, Iginla said, “It’s probably being too anxious…You want to get that goal for the team and just get one and get feeling it. At times, you squeeze a little too hard.”

Coach Claude Julien doesn’t seemed to be worried about Iginla in the least bit. In fact he’s confident he’ll start scoring soon. “He can shoot the puck a lot better than we’ve seen him,” Julien said of Iginla. Julien went on to say, “He’s been around the league long enough and he’s going to find his way and he’s going to score some goals for us.”

Loui Eriksson has scored in two straight games and will be looking to extend that streak on Thursday.

When asked about facing his former battery mate in Thomas, Tuukka Rask said, “Never thought that we would play against each other.” Rask went on to say, “But I’m glad that he made his comeback. That’s what people want. I hope he does well.”

Projected Bruins lines:

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Smith-Bergeron-Eriksson

Marchand-Kelly-Caron

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk

Seidenberg-Bartkowski

Krug-McQuaid

Rask

Frank O’Laughlin-Senior Contributor-TitleTown Sports Network

Preview: Red Wings vs. Bruins

Reilly Smith Daniel Cleary

Game #5: Detriot Red Wings (3-2) vs. Boston Bruins (3-1)

Time: 1:00 PM

Location: TD Garden

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

These two Original Six foes will drop the puck for the second time this season on Monday afternoon in a special Columbus Day matinee. The Black and Gold knocked off the Wings in impressive fashion back on October 5, 4-1. These teams won’t link again following this one until November 27.

The Bruins will be looking to build upon their big win over the Blue Jackets this past Saturday. Tuukka Rask was lights out, as he only surrendered a single goal. Chris Kelly scored the equalizing goal in the tilt and is continuing to showcase a dynamic style of hockey. Newcomer, Loui Eriksson, notched his first tally in a Bruins uniform. It was the game winner and a weight lifted off of his shoulders.

As for the Red Wings, their power play had been uncharacteristically held powerless prior to Saturday’s victory over the Flyers. They got themselves off the hook, striking three times with the man advantage.

Henrik Zetterberg has been on fire for Detroit. He found the net twice in their last outing and has a total of four goals in five games. Tuukka Rask has been hotter. Through four games, Rask has a 1.00 GAA and a .965 SV%. He’ll look to build upon his great start against a dangerous Wings offensive attack.

Rask stopped 25 Red Wing shots in their last meeting. Torey Krug also added a power play goal and an assist in the contest.

We saw Matt Bartkowski get his first start of the season on Saturday in favor of Dougie Hamilton. It’s unknown as to who will get the nod on the blue-line on Monday. Have to assume Claude Julien will make his decision in the pre-game skate. He did that prior to the Columbus game.

Jordan Caron projects to remain in the lineup and at the third line left wing position.

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson

Caron-Kelly-Smith

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk

Seidenberg-Hamilton

Krug-McQuaid

Rask

Frank O’Laughlin – Senior Contributor – TitleTown Sports Network

Follow along with Frank on Twitter for all your Bruins news: @BruinsHub

Preview: Bruins vs. Blue Jackets

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Game #4: Boston Bruins (2-1) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (2-1)

Time: 2:00 PM

Location: Nationwide Arena

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Black and Gold will take to the road for the first time this season for a Saturday matinee affair against Eastern Conference newcomer, Columbus. These teams’ similarities go well beyond their identical 2-1 records, as the Blue Jackets pride themselves on the same brand of hockey that the Bruins do.

This meeting will mark the first of three slated tilts between the two for 2013-2014.

Columbus, like the Bruins, will attempt to push the play and impose their will through relentless physicality. They operate with the same defense first mentality that Claude Julien preaches to his men and they always get strong goaltending.

Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Jack Johnson and RJ Umberger headline a deep Blue Jacket lineup. The Jackets are fast and can be lethal on the offensive end if allowed to settle in. Sergei Borbrovsky, the reigning Vezinna Trophy winner will man the Columbus crease and is a more than a worthy adversary to Tuukka Rask.

Boston has been impressive on the power play thus far this season and it has created numerous scoring bids. We all know how effective their penalty-killing unit is. The Jacket’s special teams units are just as respectable and should be able to challenge the Bruins.

Colorado dealt the Bruins a tough loss on Thursday, as they shutout the defending Eastern Conference champs in impressive fashion. You better believe they will be motivated to get back in the victory column after a sluggish showing. The Jackets have won two straight after falling at home on opening night. They will look to build upon recent success and prove that they can go toe-to-toe with the big dogs.

Former Bruin, Nathan Horton, will not play for Columbus. Horton is recovering from offseason surgery and is still rehabbing.

Look for the Bruins to get off to a strong start, dominate play and establish an aggressive north-south game early on. Goals will come if they can do that. The Jackets are not a team to be dilly-dallying against. They will punish your shortcomings.

Jordan Caron will once again skate in place of Carl Soderberg.

Projected Bruins lineup:

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson

Caron-Kelly-Smith

Chara-Boychuk

Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Seidenberg-Hamilton

Krug-McQuaid

Rask

Frank O’Laughlin – Senior Contributor – TitleTown Sports Network

 

 

Preview: Avalanche vs. Bruins

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Game #3: Colorado Avalanche (3-0) vs. Boston Bruins (2-0)

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: TD Garden

TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Bruins will do battle with a fellow unbeaten opponent, as the Avalanche will pay their lone visit of the season to TD Garden on Thursday night. These clubs have not squared off against one another since the 2010-2011 regular season.

Colorado is a youthful squad and rapidly on the upswing. Playing in the ultra competitive Central Division, an unbeaten beginning to the new calendar season comes as a surprise to many and their new coach is a major reason for the early success. Patrick Roy is now at the helm and has a bevy of skill at his disposal.

Matt Duchene and team captain Gabriel Landeskog lead the Avs offensive attack. They have tremendous team speed and Duchene serves as the go to facilitator. PA Parenteau, Steve Downie, Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reily are all legitimate NHL players and nicely fill out what is an underrated lineup.

Parenteau leads the Avs in points (1 goal, 4 assists) while rookie Nathan Mackinnon is off to a fantastic start (4 assists). But it has been goaltender Semyon Varlamov who has impressed the most. Protected by one of the NHL’s better blue liner’s in Eric Johnson, Varlamov has posted a 1.00 GAA and a .967 SV% through three tilts.

The Avalanche rely heavily on their ability to open up play with a sharp transitional game, although the Bruins rugged play is suited perfectly to counter it. Roy’s team plays more of a finesse style of hockey and Boston’s physicality will likely wear down the undersized forwards of Colorado, thus giving way to a major advantage in this contest.

Claude Julien will utilize all four lines as he always does and the Avs will be hard-pressed to with stand such a disciplined approach. Boston’s experience and relentless play may be too much for Colorado to match. A few sizeable checks and the Avs forwards may think twice about things.

With the Boston power play rounding into shape and a penalty-killing unit that has looked unbreakable at times, look for the B’s to dominate the special teams phases of this one. The Bruins young puck movers should have passing lanes to spring their scorers. Colorado’s backend is beatable and Claude Julien’s men certainly have the talent to exploit it.

Carl Soderbergwill once again be a healthy scratch in favor of Jordan Caron. Soderberg is on the mend, but for now Caron will get the nod, as he has done a nice job so far.

Frank O’Laughlin – Senior Contributor – TitleTown Sports Network