The Boston Bruins have certainly found their stride in recent weeks.
They are now winners of five-straight games, including sweeping through the homestand that occupied all of last week. With the recent surge, the B's sit in a healthy spot in the Atlantic Division. They can be considered one of the front-runners in the Eastern Conference up until this point in the season.
Another positive sign is that this particular team is doing this while they are not at full strength. Boston did, however, get word that Kevan Miller is almost set to return and that will bolster the blue line.
The Bruins are getting their core back at an opportune time. They played a couple of road games on Wednesday and Thursday night in a back-to-back set. They took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game. Boston took the first meeting back in October, and the team has won six of its last seven games without Zdeno Chara. No problem, right? Eh.
The B's played the Leafs extremely tight in the opening period. Once the second period rolled around, it was a horror show. Boston surrendered four quick goals, which led to a goaltender change during the barrage. The top line of the Leafs (Phil Kessel-Tyler Bozak-James van Riemsdyk) was scorching hot on this night, combining for eight points. Toronto ended up unloading six goals on the B's, forcing them to take a hard look at themselves after a tough loss.
Montreal was the next destination for Boston, culminating in yet another Bruins/Canadiens showdown. The Habs got the better of the B's in the first matchup in Montreal, so let's see if this night provided a different outcome. After not being satisfied with what they have had offensively (cough cough...Simon Gagne...cough cough), the Bruins recalled Alexander Khokhlachev from Providence for this game but ended up being a scratch.
The Bruins only had flashes of excellence during this game because the Canadiens dictated much of the pace and the quality scoring chances. The plethora of minor penalties called in the game did not contribute to a steady flow either, but the onus remained with Boston. Montreal scored three unanswered goals on Niklas Svedberg in the second period. The final score was 5-1 in favor of the Habs, sending the Bruins home empty handed in their trip to Canada.
The Bruins will play their next game on Saturday afternoon against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Gold Star (combined): Chris Kelly.....You really cannot say that he had a great trip, but he was not the worst player out there. In fact, he strung together a couple of solid outings.
Black Star (combined): Dougie Hamilton....Maybe it was due to exhaustion, but the lack of hustle and the moments of defensive vulnerability were questionable during this trip.
Game Seventeen Box Score
Game Eighteen Box Score