Bruins-Islanders preview: Respect the Isles

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Bruins-Islanders preview: Respect the Isles

It should be a situation ideally suited for the Bruins when they host a rare Friday night game against the New York Islanders at TD Garden. The Isles are jumping into the second end of a back-to-back situation after they blasted the Toronto Maple Leafs for seven goals last night at Nassau Coliseum.

In fact the Islanders are within distance of the top spot overall in the Eastern Conference and only the Tampa Bay Lighting have scored more goals than New York coming out of the East. Michael Grabner has three goals and five points in the Isles first three games, and the Bruins are very wary of overlooking a team thats had a rough time over the last few seasons.

Claude Julien practically busted into Aretha Franklin lyrics when he was asked if the Islanders are one of those teams that might sneak into the playoffs given the shortened 48-game schedule.

Im being honest here when I say that our team respects the New York Islanders because we know what they have, said Claude Julien. Theyve got a great lineup and some good players that, if you dont respect them, theyll make you pay for it.

The Bruins won three of four from the Islanders last season, though Bs fans will remember the one loss included Tuukka Rask going down with a groinabdomen injury that helped sink Bostons playoff chances.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Chris Bourque has zero points and zero shots on net to go along with a minus-2 rating in the teams first three games, and is looking to get his offensive game going at the NHL level. After leading the AHL with 93 points last season the 26-year-old winger is still looking to find that offensively impactful game at the next level. As a forward line the Bruins trio of Bourque, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley have been quiet in the first three games, and could be headed for a breakout night against the Islanders.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Theyve got a lot of speed and a lot of offense, up front especially. Theyre playing good hockey and I think well have a great game tonight. Chris Kelly ready for the offensive challenge brought on by the Islanders.

KEY MATCHUP: All the attention will be paid to the Matt MoulsonJohn Tavares line, but it will be up to the second tier of the Bruins defense (SeidenbergHamilton and the BourqueKellyPeverley) to handle the Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen and Brad Boyes line that torched the Maple Leafs last night. Grabner leads the Islanders with three goals and five points, and the speedy forward is among the top 10 scorers in the NHL to start the season. The bottom line is that theres a lot of depth in the Isles offensive attack if Rick DiPietro and the defense can hold the Bruins at bay.

STAT TO WATCH: 0 the number of goals for Isles superstar John Tavares in the first three games of the season, though he does have five assists in the last couple of games.

INJURIES: Dennis Seidenberg (lower body injury) is a game-time decision for the Bruins, but Bruins coach Claude Julien is optimistic that the defenseman will be able to play Friday night. The Islanders are without forwards Josh Bailey (knee surgery) and Jesse Joensuu (groin)

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask will be making his fourth straight appearance to start the season, and is coming off arguably his best game of the season after making 29 saves with a tempest whirling around him. For the season Rask is 2-0-1 with a 1.95 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, and the Bruins will take those kinds of numbers stretched out over the long haul. Winthrop native and former Boston University goaltender Rick DiPietro will get the start for the Islanders in his season debut, and still has the long hair and beard that would make Johnny Damon nod his head in approval. DiPietro hasnt played in an NHL game since December of last season after going down with a sports hernia.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.