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.

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.


 

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre