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.