Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith and MATT Fraser and Joe Morrow and…
Seriously. Enough about the trade. Stop trying to wrap yourself in the Tyler Seguin trade and bicker about who won and who lost. It's done, it's over. We're halfway through the NHL season now so playing What If is pointless. The Bruins have larger things to worry about – like what the hell is happening to their elite goaltender, why their penalty kill looks like a bucket of abortions and what's going on with their defense.
I am not a betting man (on that note sportsbooks haven't totally lost faith in the Bruins odds to win the Stanley Cup – click here for NHL lines) but I would bet that the Bruins would be a little amped for this one. If Boston is going to get themselves on track, Dallas may be the perfect team to do it against. Here's a quick gif representation of the Bruins' January so far:
Seriously, it's been bad. Let's start where the Bruins have suffered the most since the calendar turned to 2014: the penalty kill. The Bruins have taken 16 penalties and have allowed 6 power play goals. Now, if you're still playing at home and now violently throwing up everywhere, that equates to a 62% penalty kill in January. A lot of people are saying it's because Chris Kelly has been out, but since Kelly has been out the Bruins have been average on the PK – killing 80% of their penalties.
So what's changed?
I have no idea. The lost of Seidenberg surely hurts them, but we've praised this team for it's depth so surely it would work out right? Right?
It could just be a bad stretch of games and we're over analyzing everything (shockingly!) but this team has looked like liquid dog shit lately outside of a wonderful game in San Jose. The penalty kill is surprising and very "un-Bruins like" given that they usually rank top 5 in the PK year after year. If it sounds like I'm harping on just one aspect of the Bruins game, I apologize. I'm just flabbergasted by how bad the Bruins have been when down a man.
Okay, time to look at the opposition:
Boston defense is going to get tested tonight like Tyler Seguin after a rave. They rank 7th in the NHL in shots per game at 31.6 and that's just on net. That doesn't include missed shots or blocked shots (oh hello corsi) so if the Bruins are going to try and win this game, limiting the amount of shots Tuukka Rask sees looks like to be a great start.
Offensively Dallas has scored 94 goals this season at even strength but shockingly on 20 goals 5 on 4. In total, Dallas has scored 129 goals, which puts them just about the middle of the pack in the NHL. In truth, Boston ranks higher in goals per game (2.85 compared to 2.80).
If Boston is going to beat the Stars tonight they need to limit the shots getting to Rask and they need to stop taking penalties. I feel like that is something I shouldn't have to state, that not allowing a lot of shots and not taking penalties is a pretty known standard through any sporting event, but for some reason Boston has had issues with these simple concepts. The team has allowed their goaltender to see 35+ shots three times in January (35 vs Nashville [Svedberg], 37 vs Winnipeg [Rask] and 35 vs LA [Rask,Johnson]).
To beat Dallas you have to stop the line of Benn-Seguin-Cole. Of Dallas' 129 goals that line has 49 of them or account for over one-third of Dallas' goal production. Stop (or I guess limit is the better term) that line and your chances of beating the Stars increases by leaps and bounds.
Also, let's steal Valeri Nichushkin because he's going to be a solid player in this league.
In: Kevan Miller
Out: Dougie Hamilton (Concussion), Jordan Caron (Glue factory)
Unknown: Tuukka's mindset, Adam McQuaid's ability
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Carl Söderberg – Ryan Spooner – Loui Eriksson
Shawn Thornton – Greg Campbell – Dan Paille
Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Matt Bartkowski – Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug – Kevan Miller
Puck Drop: 8:30pm EST
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub
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