Bruins - Avs Preview: Battle of the undefeateds

Bruins - Avs Preview: Battle of the undefeateds
October 10, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Something has to give when the Colorado Avalanche come to town with their flashy new style and successful Hall of Fame goalie/coach Patrick Roy, and bring an undefeated 3-0-0 record into the TD Garden. The Bruins also just happen to be 2-0-0 on the season and played the better of their two tilts in last weekend’s decisive win over a Detroit Red Wings hockey club.

Fittingly with Roy in tow as the coach, it will be a battle of two hockey clubs that allowed only a single goal to opponents in each of their games played thus far on the season. If the Bruins can improve to 3-0 it will be their best start since 2001, and Colorado’s 3-0-0 start is their best since the franchise moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995. It’s a little more of a coaching chore for Claude Julien and his staff because the two teams haven’t seen each other in two years, and don’t get a chance to see the Western Conference teams in living color all that often.

“Nowadays with video and all that stuff and watching games they’re on TV. So we sit at home at night most of the time, coaches, and we’re going to watch a game. It’s not always just our division,” said Claude Julien. “Last night there was a great game between Chicago and St. Louis.

“You want to kind of get a feel of that stuff. So we do have a good feeling of what they’re all about and watched them the other night against Toronto – Colorado. So same with them; maybe we’re not used to playing each other, but I think we have a pretty good idea of each other’s tendencies.”

But it’s also going to be a challenge for Roy and the Avalanche, who have beaten the Maple Leafs, Ducks and Predators thus far this season. But haven’t been able to gauge exactly where they’re at against one of the league’s elite while pumping in 11 goals in three games.  

“It is a measuring stick to some point, obviously,” said Roy. “We know we have some things to work on. We’re going to be challenged, and we’ll be able to see what areas of our game need to be better and improved.

“That’s why I say we take it one day at a time, and we see where that will bring us.”

While there won’t be many questions answered about the Bruins and their players when tonight’s game is over, it will be interesting to see what’s been learned about Roy and his upstart Avalanche.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Jarome Iginla made a big splash by dropping the gloves opening night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it was a slow first couple of offensive nights for No. 12. Iginla has four shots on net in two games with zero points, and both Iginla and Loui Eriksson haven’t yet registered a point yet with their new team. While Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug were probably the two biggest elements to the pair of power play goals scored in beating Detroit last weekend, Thursday night would as good a time as any for the 36-year-old power forward to get on the scoresheet.  

KEY MATCHUP: The Zdeno Chara/Johnny Boychuk pairing should get plenty of play against a line of P.A. Parenteau, Jamie McGinn and Nathan MacKinnon that’s been dominant through the first four games. While Parenteau and McGinn have been scoring the goals, it’s the young MacKinnon that’s been setting things into motion with his playmaking. If he gets out there much against Chara and Boychuk, he should expect a lot of punishment from two big bodies that don’t exist at the junior hockey level.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask became the highest paid goaltender in the NHL after signing an eight year deal this summer that will pay him $7 million per season, so he’ll be looking to continue a dominant start after stopping 57 of the 59 shots he’s faced thus far this season. The 1.00 goals against average and .966 save percentage are truly indicative of how well the Finnish netminder has played thus far. Semyon Varlamov has started all three games for Colorado and has almost identical numbers to Rask with a 1.00 goals against average and a .967 save percentage. As we said above, something has to give or it’s going to be a 1-0 final score.

STAT TO WATCH: 0 – as in the number of losses for both the Bruins and Avalanche thus far this season. Something is going to give on Thursday night with an experienced, rested Bruins team waiting for a young Colorado team in the middle of a road trip.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “What I see [in the Avalanche] is there are a lot of young players starting to come into their own, as far as experience is concerned. What I see from that team is tremendous speed up front. They will challenge you with their speed. With the experience and the skill level, they’re making plays. I see a team that’s matured with its young players. When you struggle for the last little while, you’ve got a lot of good first round picks and guys that are going to become really elite players in this league. [The Avs have] some [players] that are already elite players in this league.” –Claude Julien on what he saw out of the Avs after watching video of them this week.

INJURIES: Carl Soderberg (sprained ankle) is on the injured reserve, and has been ruled out for Thursday night’s opener after catching a rut on the ice in Saskatoon. Bobby Robins (knee) is on the injured reserve after hurting himself in the second exhibition game of the season. Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is on the long term injured reserve, and is again expected to miss the entire season.

Ryan Wilson is out for the Colorado Avalanche with a knee injury.