Bruins-Kings Preview: Tuukka Rask To Start In Net Vs. Defending Champs

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BOSTON — The Bruins have returned to TD Garden for a difficult Saturday night matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

Both teams play a heavy, physical style of hockey, which should make for an entertaining matchup that could feel a bit like a playoff game given the fact that each squad really needs two points.

“If you look at both of us, I think we’re built kind of the same way,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said when asked about the comparisons between the teams. “There was a lot of talk when we won in 2011, they tried to model after us, and it’s brought them some success now. They’re a heavy, good skating team, skilled team. They have it all. Same kind of matchup.”

Here’s a quick preview of Bruins-Kings.

TV, Radio Information: NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub

Season Series: 1-0 Kings (L.A. won 2-0 on Dec. 2)

Record: Boston (26-16-7, fourth in Atlantic), Los Angeles (21-15-12, fifth in Pacific)

Bruins Player To Watch: Tuukka Rask is aiming to end a fantastic month of January with another win. He’s 6-1-3 with a .947 save percentage in nine starts this month.

“I’ve felt pretty good all year,” Rask said. “Obviously now the luck has been on our side a little more and I feel more confident out there.”

B’s head coach Claude Julien confirmed that the reigning Vezina Trophy winner will start against the Kings.

“A lot of it has to do with the confidence at that point, and you make adjustments and all of sudden you realize what?s been working for you and you build off of that,” Julien said. “I think Tuukka was in that same boat. Maybe Tuukka also, it?s hard to have the same confidence now with what he had in front of him compared to what he?s got now. Not to say he didn?t have anything good, but he?s got something a lot better in front of him now with the (injured) guys back.”

Kings Player To Watch: Drew Doughty is one of the NHL’s best defensemen and among the top candidates for the Norris Trophy. He has 29 points, plays against tough competition, helps L.A. control 56.74 percent of even-strength shot attempts, and his 29:23 of TOI/game ranks second among all players behind Minnesota Wild blueliner Ryan Suter. The Doughty-Muzzin pairing is one of the best in the league and moves the puck extremely well out of its own end.

Key Stat For Bruins: Boston is 6-1-2 in its last nine games at TD Garden. The B’s have scored more than three goals per game in that span, including power-play tallies in six of those matchups. The Kings are 5-9-6 on the road this season and lost their only game in Boston last season.

Key Stat For Kings: Los Angeles’ penalty kill ranks 25th with a 77.7 percent success rate and it has struggled mightily in January. The Kings have given up a power-play goal in eight of 10 games this month with a 20-for-31 mark overall.

Thumbnail photo via Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports Images

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