BOSTON — The Bruins arguably are playing their best hockey of the season, which means their five-day “bye week” has come at the worst possible time.
The B’s thumped the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 on Sunday night at TD Garden in their most complete effort of the campaign, but they won’t resume game action until next Sunday in San Jose, where Boston kicks off a four-game road trip against the Sharks.
This road trip is of the utmost importance for the Bruins. Depending on how the teams around them in the playoff race fare, the B’s either will be playing catch up or fighting to hold a playoff spot next weekend.
The Bruins and Ottawa Senators are tied for second place in the Atlantic Division entering Monday, but the Sens have five games in hand on Boston. The Toronto Maple Leafs sit three points behind the B’s and have four games in hand. The fifth-place Florida Panthers are six points behind Boston with four games in hand.
Boston’s four upcoming opponents are quality teams, too. San Jose leads the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks are right behind them, and the Los Angeles Kings almost always provide a tough test. After a swing through California, the B’s finish the trip in Dallas against a highly skilled Stars squad.
The Bruins have played well on the road this season with a 14-10-6 record. Only two Eastern Conference teams have more road wins. If the B’s play with the same intensity and execution on this road trip as they displayed in the last three home games, they should be in a good spot at the March 1 NHL trade deadline.
Here are some notes from Bruins-Canadiens.
— Boston’s power play remains red hot. The unit has scored in a season-high eight consecutive games, including a David Krejci power-play goal Sunday. The B’s now sit 14th in the league with a 20.1 power-play percentage.
— The Bruins will need to play better at TD Garden to strengthen their chances of making the playoffs. They’ve won three straight games at home for the first time all season, improving their record in Boston to 15-13-0.
Interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Sunday’s win that the B’s “want to re-establish a presence (at home).” So far, so good in his short tenure behind the bench.
— One change expected to be made by Cassidy was having Bruins defensemen become a little more involved in the offense. In three games with Cassidy behind the bench, B’s blueliners have scored four goals (by four different players) with four assists. The Bruins don’t have tremendous scoring depth up front, so any production from the blue line should be a welcomed sight for the coaching staff.
— Bruins winger Brad Marchand has tallied 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last nine games. That puts him in a third-place tie with Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane on the league’s scoring leaderboard at 58 points.
— Canadiens goalie Carey Price entered Sunday with a 24-8-4 record and a .924 save percentage in his career against the Bruins. His latest performance was subpar, as he gave up four goals on 36 shots and didn’t look as confident between the pipes as he normally does in Boston.
Price now has allowed 17 goals with a lackluster .878 save percentage in five February games. Montreal is 1-4-0 in those games.
— The NHL trade deadline is March 1. For what it’s worth, Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was at Sunday’s game in Boston. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin also was in attendance.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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