While the Bruins played in a postseason-style atmosphere on Thursday night with the St. Louis Blues in town, it might be a little different feeling when the puck is dropped for a Saturday afternoon matinee against the Carolina Hurricanes. So the Bruins need to be prepared to roll up their sleeves, and get to work against a Carolina team that needs to start winning games.
The one positive for the Bruins: they’re getting consistent high level performance from all of their forward lines, and they’re surviving as injuries have sliced and diced their defenseman depth. They’re also facing a Carolina team that’s lost three games in a row despite seeing both Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner return to their lineup, and is searching for answers.
“We're getting opportunities to win these hockey games and … I guess we'll take responsibility as a staff,” said Carolina head coach Kirk Muller. “Our power play has to come through and it hasn't.”
The Canes power play isn’t likely to get well against the Black and Gold on Saturday afternoon, but they might just catch the Bruins napping if they feature a little too much of the lackadaisical personality that’s seen them allow goals in the final two minutes of a period eight times already this season. It will be up to Boston to bring the intensity and the focus because two points will be theirs if they do.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: David Krejci has gone pointless in five games with a zero plus/minus rating, and has just seven shots on net over that span – including zero shots on net in the shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues. The Bruins top line has really cooled off in November after coming out of the gate smoking hot in the first month of the season, so it might be time for them to start getting it going again. It all starts with Krejci, who has looked very much out of sorts since getting his head slammed into the boards by Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky prior to the last road trip.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “"It's been a while since we've played a good, solid 60 minutes like that. With the circumstances, we had some young guys back there who played extremely well tonight. They made some good plays. I was really proud of our back end.” –Claude Julien, who liked what he saw out of his young defensemen on Thursday night with Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg out of the lineup.
KEY MATCHUP: Eric Staal is riding a four game point streak for Carolina, and one of the few real offensive options for a Hurricanes hockey club that’s without injured Russian sniper Alex Semin. It will be up to Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton to shut down Staal and the small, explosive Nathan Gerbe as one of Carolina’s only threats in the offensive zone. They did a nice job of holding them down last week without too many other players to worry about in the lineup, and accomplishing that again should lead to another two points.
STAT TO WATCH: 1-for-25 – the Carolina Hurricanes power play over the last eight games as they head into a game against the No. 2 penalty kill unit in the Bruins.
INJURIES: Carolina placed forward Alexander Semin (concussion) on injured reserve Thursday, so that means both Semin and former Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin (lower body) are out of the lineup. Hurricanes enforcer Kevin Westgarth (upper body) has also been out of the lineup.
Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (lower body) is out indefinitely, and likely not available until after the Pittsburgh Penguins game next week. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (hip/groin) practiced Friday and is a possibility to return to the lineup Saturday afternoon.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask played three games in four days, and took a nutty after dropping the shutout decision to the St. Louis Blues, so there’s a pretty good chance Chad Johnson could be in net against the Hurricanes. Johnson played well in his last appearance winning against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and a Saturday matinee against Carolina has the backup goaltender written all over it.
One would expect the Hurricanes might counter with Cam Ward after he was the losing goaltender against the Bruins in their game last week. Justin Peters stopped 43 shots on Thursday night, but the Canes still dropped a 4-3 decision to the Red Wings while Ward rested after his game vs. Boston.