WILMINGTON, MA There arent many teams in the NHL that really have the Bruins number. The odds become even more unlikely that a team has dominated the Black and Gold if theyre not even a playoff team.
But the non-playoff Carolina Hurricanes, the same team that banished the Bruins from the playoffs four years ago, swept the Bs in their four game series during the regular season and outscored Boston by a 14-5 margin. Its those kinds of performances against mediocre teams that gave the Bruins a reputation as a team that can sometimes play down to the competition.
But the Bruins players are keenly aware of last years Canes phenomenon as they ready for their first meeting against Carolina at the RBC Center on Monday night. The tilt against the Southeast Division foe will be the first part of back-to-back games that conclude back at TD Garden against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Its a pretty important game for us. This is a team that gave us a fair share of trouble last year and they improved their roster. Theyve won their last couple of games, so its going to be a challenge for us, said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. There are certain teams that give other teams trouble. Theyre a four-man attack team and they always have a D up on the rush.
We havent played our best against them, and theyve played some very good games against us. Its one of those things where we want to get that win against them as quick as we can so we can get the monkey off our back.
As expected Eric Staal, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner share the team-lead with four points on the season, and the oldest Staal brother leads the Hurricanes with three goals scored on the season. The talented, young Carolina defensemen corps combined with skilled players like the Staal Brothers, Skinner and Alex Semin mean that the Bruins could be in for a long night if they start looking ahead to the Devils on Tuesday night.
Julien all but assured that wont be happening.
Their record against us last year is something were well aware of and were going into the game well-prepared, said Julien. They come at the net hard, they open up a lot and we havent been at our best against that kind of a team. We just havent been as prudent playing against a team like that. We need to take away their shots from the point and make sure we clear away any traffic from the front of the net.
There will be an extra challenge for the Bruins to do that without the services of 6-foot-5, 209-pound Adam McQuaid, a staunch stay-at-home defenseman that will miss the game vs. Carolina for personal reasons. Perhaps that will make the Bruins focus even more than last years domination of them in a convincing series of four games.