EL SEGUNDO, CA The Bruins have no excuses. Jet lag and time zone changes wont be acceptable, and truly they werent during an offensive no-show against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
With the Ottawa Senators losing three straight games things have been placed on a tee for the Bs to smack the ball out of the park. If the Bruins can generate production, performance and results against the Kings on Saturday, and the Ducks on Sunday, then they can all but secure the Northeast Division for themselves.
But it wont be easy against a Los Angeles Kings squad thats won six games in a row and is coming off a playoff-style shootout win over the Blues where goaltender Jonathan Quick was brilliant.
Claude Julien is looking for something much better than what we saw in San Jose.
We never caught up to the pace of the game against San Jose. We need to bring it on the road, said Claude Julien. For whatever reason, we had some guys that didnt play well enough to let us win a hockey game. There is no way were going to win hockey games on this road trip if we dont have everybody going."
I dont like using the word desperate. We need to be a little bit more committed and determined rather than desperate. Right now the chances of making the playoffs are very good, but how do we want to be playing going into the postseason. Hopefully we want to be better.
The good news for the Bruins: Zdeno Chara has been outstanding lately and should be highly motivated playing in his 1,000th NHL game Saturday against the Kings at the Staples Center. Tim Thomas has also been great in his last three games, and was keeping the Bruins in the game against the Sharks on Thursday night when the offense couldnt get on track.
The bad news for the Bruins: Chara and Thomas arent enough if the top-six forwards dont bring more to the table than they did in the first game on the California road swing against the Sharks.
The Bruins arent looking for any passengers on the bus against the Kings, and victory should follow if they can accomplish their mission.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Bostons top six forwards didnt contribute anything offensively in Thursday nights loss to the Sharks, and Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly didnt register even a single shot on net. Claude Julien called them out the following day at practice and has continued to push Rich Peverley as a forward thats going to take somebodys place on the game day roster if theyre not playing up to par.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: What we need to do is create more offense than we did in San Jose. That didnt give us much of a chance to win if we dont create more chances than we did. Claude Julien, who wasnt impressed with his teams 17 shots on net against the Sharks. He wasnt the only one.
KEY MATCHUP: Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings defense have allowed only eight goals in their last five games, and have put up a wall of defense around the net as they push toward a playoff berth in the competitive Western Conference. Quicks goals against average dropped to 1.96 GAA with a shutout against the Blues on Thursday night, and that should be about the last a group of Bs offensive pieces need after firing off only 17 shots in a loss to the Sharks. The Bruins forward group, as a collective, needs to be better against the Kings and needs to start moving their feet to get the puck up the ice with speed. If the forwards cant do any better the results might not be any difference against a Kings team thats just as motivated.
STAT TO WATCH: 10-3 the Kings record since trading for disgruntled Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jeff Carter.
INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strainabdomen strain) and Nathan Horton (mild concussion) are long term injuries for the Bruins. Peverley will take warm-ups with the team prior to Saturdays game in Los Angeles, and could play as soon as Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. For the Los Angeles Kings Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip) are not available for Saturday nights tilt against the Bruins.
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tim Thomas will get the call for the Bruins, and hell be appearing in his 15th straight game for the Black and Gold including a pair of relief appearances. Thomas is 5-6 with a 3.23 goals against average and an .870 save percentage during the month of March, but looks like hes now starting back on the upswing again. Former UMass star Jonathan Quick has won five games in a row and has allowed just eight goals over that span, and made 35 saves in a shutout win over the St. Blues in his last outing Thursday night.