The Bruins didn’t start the season the way they wanted, as they watched Phoenix jump out to a 4-0 lead through two periods on Saturday. Boston rallied with a pair of goals in the third, but it wasn’t enough as the Coyotes held on for a 5-2 win.
The good news is that the Bruins won’t have to wait long to get a shot at redemption, as they get right back to work on Sunday with a rematch against the Coyotes in the backend of their two-game set in Prague.
WHEN AND WHERE
Boston Bruins (0-1-0, 0 points) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (1-0-0, 2 points)
Oct. 10, 4 p.m. local, 10 a.m. ET (NESN)
O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the second and final matchup of the year between the Bruins and Coyotes. Phoenix won the opener on Saturday, 5-2. The Coyotes also won the only meeting last year, 4-1 in Phoenix on Oct. 17, but the Bruins still hold a 37-20-7-1 edge in the all-time series.
On Saturday, Phoenix right wing Radim Vrbata enjoyed his homecoming in the Czech Republic with a three-point night. In the rematch, two other Czechs could take center stage. Bruins center David Krejci will be a focal point in the Bruins’ attack while flanked by Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic on Boston’s top line. But he might have to get past countryman Martin Hanzal to do any damage, and the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Phoenix center could be a tough roadblock to get around.
- The Bruins have won just one of their six season openers since the owners’ lockout. But the last three times they lost their first game, the Bruins came back to win their next contest. In those three seasons, they lost the opener by a combined 16-5 count, but won the second games 13-5.
- Boston was just 18-17-6 at home last year, including a win at Fenway Park in the Winter Classic. The Bruins were 21-13-7 on the road. They were officially designated the home team on Saturday, but Sunday’s rematch is Phoenix’s “home” game, which might bode well for the Bruins.
- Horton scored two goals in his first game as a Bruin on Saturday. Last year, he had only two multi-goal efforts all season in 65 games. His last two-game came back on Dec. 21 against Philadelphia.
- Vrbata had two goals in the opener on Saturday as well. His last two-goal game? Last year’s season opener at Los Angeles. He did not have another multi-goal game last season.
- New Coyote forward Ray Whitney had 21 goals last year, the fourth straight season he’s had at least that many goals. No one in Boston’s lineup on Saturday had more than 20 goals in the NHL last season.
- Phoenix enforcer Paul Bissonnette had 19 of the Coyotes’ 30 fighting majors last year. That accounted for 63.3 percent of the club’s total fights, a higher percentage than any other single player in the league. Boston’s Shawn Thornton was fourth in the league, as his 21 fighting majors were 44.7 percent of Boston’s team total of 47.
Greg Campbell got his stint with Boston off to a raucous start as he dropped the gloves with Phoenix’s Vern Fiddler in the third period Saturday in Campbell’s first game as a Bruin. Last year’s meeting featured one fight, with Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk taking on Bissonnette. Bissonnette had 19 of Phoenix’s 30 fighting majors in 2009-10, but was scratched on Saturday. Thornton remains Boston’s most likely combatant after leading the Bruins with 21 fighting majors last year.
- Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is out indefinitely.
- Marco Sturm (knee surgery) is expected to be out until at least November.
- Trent Whitfield (ruptures Achilles) could miss the entire year.
- Derek Morris (knee) is questionable.
- Kurt Sauer (head, neck) remains out indefinitely after being injured in last year’s regular-season opener.
Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris began last year in Boston before being traded back to Phoenix at the deadline. Shane Hnidy was also in Phoenix’s camp as a tryout but suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason. Keith Yandle hails from Milton, Mass., while Adrian Aucoin played one season at Boston University. Brian McGrattan played five games for Phoenix in 2008-09. He hasn’t been officially signed by the Bruins, but is expected to finalize a deal on Monday after attending Boston’s camp as a tryout.
The Bruins will look to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointing start and earn a split in Prague. As the first game proved, that won’t be easy. Phoenix is a deep and talented squad capable of taking advantage of any opportunities the Bruins give them. Boston gave them way too many chances in the first two periods on Saturday, and will need to clean up the coverage in their own zone and create more offensive pressure to pull out a win in the rematch.