Tuesday night's win over the red hot Calgary Flames gave the Bruins a 3-0 start to their lengthy six-game road trip. You never know what to expect with Western Conference opponents, but so far, so good for the B's.
The Bruins' spread-out offense with their top six forwards has produced valuable points for a team itching to make a longer postseason run than recent memory has allowed. The addition of Tomas Kaberle has visibly paid off, with the Bruins moving the puck better on the back end and on the power play.
The Bruins have three new faces in the lineup to acclimate to their system. The team with the best record in the NHL is on deck for Saturday night, in a building that the home team dominates. Vancouver's loss to Montreal on Tuesday night was only the fifth defeat in regulation time that the Canucks have suffered on home ice this season. It will arguably be the B's biggest challenge on their longest road trip of the season. After that, smooth sailing should be par for the course, with Edmonton and Ottawa serving as the final two stops.
Enjoying three days off in Vancouver before the game is a rare bonding opportunity for a team that could use a little time together. It'll be a chance for Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Kaberle to get to know one another and their new teammates. Maybe Milan Lucic will help facilitate the "getting to know you" session. After all, the Bruins' leading goal scorer is in his hometown of Vancouver and may know a few people. And if Lucic can perform like he did in Calgalry (two goals for his 25th and 26th of the season), it should be quite the homecoming.
Lucic himself provided an answer to the team's recent comeback after post-New Year struggles.
"Our game fell off in January. We weren't making the smart plays, we were coughing up pucks and we weren't moving like we usually do," he said. "These last couple of games, we felt like we were creating again and we're strong on the puck and winning battles. If we want to be an effective line, that's exactly what we need to do."
And if the Bruins collectively want to be an effective team, the same formula applies. Tim Thomas looked fresh after a week layoff from his previous start, making 28 saves in the 3-1 win for Boston. A power play goal shy of his eighth shutout, Thomas proved once again that he is the Bruins' No. 1 star.
"That whole week was good for him. He was able to get some rest and Tuukka [Rask] was able to win us a couple of games in that span as well," head coach Claude Julien said after Tuesday's game. "It was nice to see and we're hoping that we can utilize both of them from here on in so that we're in the position of having fresh goaltenders heading into the postseason."
Fresh goaltenders, rolling four strong scoring lines and three solid pairs of D-men manning the blueline each and every night is what the Bruins will need — first against Vancouver and second to make it a long postseason.
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