Saturday, December 20, 2014

Games 31-33: Trying to Get Back Into the Playoff Picture

The front half of the Boston Bruins' schedule this season has been bombarded with lots of road games and road trips. Normally, that would be a great thing to have a home-friendly second half of the season. With the Bruins basically hovering around the .500 mark, that really does not matter. 

Up next on the slate was a three-game road trip through the Central Division. All three of their opponents have winning records and are threats in the Western Conference. The Nashville Predators were on top of the list for Boston on Tuesday night.

The Preds are clearly the front-runners as the surprise team of the year. After hiring head coach Peter Laviolette, trading for James Neal, and giving Pekka Rinne time to re-surge as an elite goaltender, this was going to be one of the toughest games of the season for the Bruins. 

As it turned out, it really was. However, the B's hung with Nashville as both teams exchanged goals that featured some gorgeous pin-point accuracy. Milan Lucic and Reilly Smith netted the tallies for Boston, but the Predators eventually emerged with the two points in a shootout by a score of 3-2.

After wasting little time, they took the ice Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild. David Krejci made the trip with the team, and eventually made his return to the lineup after missing several weeks with an undisclosed injury. Niklas Svedberg was in net for the Bruins since Tuukka Rask got the start on Tuesday. 

This game was all about strong neutral-zone play and hard battles along the boards. That part of the game went to Minnesota, but Svedberg was ridiculous in goal on this night--he made 35 saves in 60 minutes. At the end of the night, the Bruins stopped their slump and won this game on the stick of Loui Eriksson in overtime. Carl Soderberg posted two points in this one for his troubles. 

The Bruins wrapped up the road trip on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets as they looked to sweep the season series.

The Bruins played from behind for the entire game after the Jets grabbed an early goal, so chasing the lead in any game is never beneficial. Winnipeg was just too tough an opponent on home ice. Costly mistakes and missed opportunities for Boston proved to be the downfall. They lost the final game by a score of 2-1 and are returning home with a 1-1-1 record on the road trip. 

Boston will play a Sunday night game next on the schedule. Its opponent: the Buffalo Sabres.

Gold Star (combined): Milan Lucic...He had a goal against Nashville, but the bigger story here is how he has been playing in the absence of some key players. When he gets going and uses his size, he is a straight-up force.  

Black Star (combined): Daniel Paille...He has done nothing all season. He is barely getting ice time on the penalty kill, which is a huge part of his game. Naturally, he was a no-show on this trip.

Game Thirty-One Box Score

Game Thirty-Two Box Score

Game Thirty-Three Box Score

Current Playoff Standings

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