Just a few days ago, the Boston Bruins looked to be on the ropes. Now they have a chance to erase all memory of those struggles.
A Bruins turnaround couldn’t happen at a better time, with key injuries to key players such as Patrice Bergeron (rib, shoulder), Zdeno Chara (MCL) and Kevan Miller (throat). Head coach Bruce Cassidy has had to shuffle the lines a bit since, but has found a working formula over the last two games.
Boston now faces a week of contests that include the always dangerous Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres, who are just ahead of the B’s in the Atlantic Division standings.
Let’s look ahead to the three games the Bruins have on their plate for this week:
Tuesday, Dec. 11 vs. Arizona Coyotes, 7 p.m. ET
The Bruins hope to make it two straight against the Coyotes after a 2-1 victory Nov. 17. Jaroslav Halak denied 32 of 33 shots while Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Jake DeBrusk each potted a first-period goal en route to the victory.
It hasn’t been the best season for the Coyotes, who sit seventh in the Pacific Division going into Tuesday’s bout. To make matters worse, general manager John Chayka confirmed goalie Antti Raanta may be out for the season. The 29-year-old was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
Arizona will be looking to stop a two-game skid, while the B’s seek to make it three consecutive wins when they head back to TD Garden.
Friday, Dec. 14. at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET.
These two rivals will go at it for the second time this season as Pittsburgh hopes to have a better outcome than its Nov. 23 overtime loss to the Bruins. Before the Pens welcome Boston to PPG Paints Arena, they’ll be tasked with games against the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks, which could gas out Pittsburgh by the time the B’s roll into town.
Much like he was against the Coyotes, Halak was stellar in net against the Pens, when he stopped 36 of 37 shots. And despite overtime not being kind to the Black and Gold to this point, the luck seemed to change when unlikely hero Joakim Nordstrom buried the game-winner with just 1:57 left in extra time.
Boston had to overcome a 1-0 deficit and a controversial overturned goal, but fought to the end for the victory and had to do it without Bergeron and Chara, so the team certainly knows what it is up against with the Penguins’ roster.
Sunday, Dec. 16 vs. Buffalo Sabres, 5 p.m. ET
The Sabres haven’t seen the Bruins since October, after Boston shut Buffalo out 4-0 in just its second game of the season. Since then, the Sabres compiled a 10-game losing streak but lost their fifth straight Saturday night. Boston has been on Buffalo’s heels in the standings and if the Sabres continue to struggle through their week before going toe-to-toe with the Bruins, Boston could find itself in third place in the Atlantic.
The Black and Gold’s lineup will look a bit different this time around, as the team had Bergeron, Miller and Chara on the ice. Though Boston won’t have some of its core players for the contest, the Sabres must get through three other games before rounding out their week with the B’s.
They’ll begin with a date with the Los Angeles Kings before taking on the Arizona Coyotes. Buffalo then travels to Washington to take on the first-place Capitals before traveling to TD Garden.
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Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images