UNIONDALE, NY – The New York Islanders are on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture and have been downright miserable at home with a 2-7 record at Nassau Coliseum this season. But the Bruins are wary of the Isles nonetheless with their offensive firepower and ability to bounce back from adversity that’s always a hallmark of such a young team.
Boston has been good on the first four stops of a five game road trip, and has been very, very good in the last two road wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers in their one Sunshine State stop of the season. So they want to keep the ball rolling against the Isles on Tuesday night before shipping back up to Boston for three straight home games starting with the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
“There are no easy teams in this league, and that’s my feeling after watching everyone around the NHL,” said Claude Julien. “Our guys are pretty good about it. It’s always nice to finish on a positive note. As much as we’ve won the first two games of this road trip, you want to go home on a positive note. The only way you can do that is by winning and playing a solid game.”
About the only way the Isles could shock the Bruins into submission would be if Tim Thomas stormed through the zamboni doors just prior to puck drop while wearing an Islanders uniform to the strain of “I am a Real American.” That’s not going to happen.
So the Bruins should be able to take nine points out of a possible 10 on the five game road swing as long as they take care of business – and avoid an Admiral Akbar-style “trap” game on Tuesday night.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin are tied for second on the team with 46 shots attempted this season, but find themselves with only three goals apiece 15 games into the season. Both forwards have had their share of chances, but it seems the puck has been falling for teammate Brad Marchand with a team-leading nine goals this season. While both Bergeron and Seguin have been good – and Bergeron is a factor in so many different things that the Bruins do on a gamely basis – they need to step up their offensive production and the Nassau Coliseum is the perfect incubator for an offensive explosion.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: ““We want to close it out on a positive note before coming home. That’s our focus…getting a win [vs. the Islanders]. They’ve got a pretty good team with a lot of firepower up front. We’ve got to take them seriously. I think we haven’t done that before, and they’ve shoved it up our [backside].” –Shawn Thornton and the rest of the Bruins don’t want to take the Islanders lightly as the last stop on a five game road trip.
KEY MATCHUP: John Tavares is among the leading goals scorers in the NHL with his 13 tallies this season while moving up to the front of the class for hockey’s next wave of superstars, and he’s teamed with Matt Moulson to be a dynamic scoring duo for the Isles over the last couple of seasons. They power a New York offense that is actually pretty dangerous when defenseman Mark Streit can help get the engine moving. It will be up to Zdeno Chara to take a break from his highlight reel spin-o-rama goals and instead focus on some shutdown defense that is always in his wheelhouse. He had six points and was a plus-5 in four games against the Isles while averaging 23 plus minutes of ice time per game, so expect Chara to reign supreme once again on Tuesday night.
STAT TO WATCH: 47 – the number of power plays the Bruins have been awarded this season, and the same number that the New York Islanders have been awarded in only their home games this season.
INJURIES: For the Islanders Matt Carkner is out with a groin injury and there is no timetable on his return. Jesse Joensuu has been out all season with a sports hernia suffered during the off-season. Brian Strait has been out since Feb. 18 with a fractured ankle that will keep out for 6-8 weeks. Marc Savard is out with post-concussion syndrome and isn’t expected to play at all this season.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Evgeni Nabokov was the first goaltender off the ice for the Isles morning skate and will be getting the start for New York, and he’s started all but four games for the Islanders this season. Nabokov has actually been pretty good with an 8-6-1 record and a .903 save percentage this season, but the Isles are still 29th among NHL teams in goals against this season. Tuukka Rask is on a roll where he’s 5-0-1 in his last six starts and hasn’t given up more than two goals in regulation during the stretch of solid play. Rask was the first Bruins goalie off the ice at morning skate, and will get the start for Boston.