The Bruins may have finished last week’s road trip 1-3-0, but there is reason to be optimistic.
Despite a five-game losing skid that was snapped on the last game of the trip against the Florida Panthers, Boston looked more confident in its last three contests. The second and third lines in particular looked sharp, with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci scoring two of the Bruins’ four goals in the win over Florida.
The B’s now return to TD Garden for a four-game homestand with games against the struggling Los Angeles Kings, surging New York Islanders, slumping Nashville Predators and the hot Washington Capitals. Boston has a three-game week ahead of it with the shot to build its lead in the Atlantic Division.
Let’s take a look at what’s on deck for the Bruins:
Tuesday, Dec. 17 vs. Los Angeles Kings
Thursday, Dec. 19 vs. New York Islanders
Saturday, Dec. 21 vs. Nashville Predators
What You Need To Know
The Kings sit dead last in the Pacific Division with a 14-18-3 record. They have won three of their last four games but have allowed nine goals during that time. Los Angeles boasts the second-worst power play with a 12 percent conversion rate. Its penalty kill holds the same position, which likely spells bad news against a Bruins team’s PP unit that, even though has dropped to 10th in the NHL, still is converting on 83.3 percent of man-advantage opportunities. Meanwhile, Drew Doughty leads the league with 39 giveaways, which certainly is not ideal for a defenseman about to go up against one of the best teams in the NHL.
The Islanders sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division, just behind the Washington Capitals. New York has won three consecutive games, outscoring its opponents 11-4 during that stretch. The Isles are just two points behind the B’s in the NHL standings and will look to keep pace with Boston on Thursday when they visit TD Garden. New York’s power play isn’t in the top-10, converting 20 percent of opportunities, and the team sits 15th in the league killing 81.1 percent of its penalties.
Nashville has lost three of its six games in the month of December heading into its Tuesday matchup against the Islanders. The Preds snapped their two-game losing skid Monday against the New York Rangers as they look to gain some ground in the Central Division, where they sit just two points behind the Minnesota Wild.
Who Bruins Need To Watch Out For
While it has been a poor season thus far for LA, the team still has some bright spots on its roster. Jeff Carter is riding a three-game point streak coming into Tuesday’s bout with two goals and an assist. His 10 goals are good for second-most on the Kings, behind just Anze Kopitar’s 13. Kopitar also leads the team with 18 assists.
Mat Barzal leads New York in goals and points and is tied for the team lead with 14 assists. But it’s the Isles’ goalie tandem that has helped them achieve their recent success. Thomas Greiss is fourth in the league with a 2.16 goals-against average while boasting a .932 save percentage. Semyon Valamov is tied with Tuukka Rask with a 2.24 GAA and has a .928 save percentage between the pipes.
Roman Josi leads Nashville with 26 points and 19 assists and is coming off a three-point performance Monday against the Rangers. He’s not afraid to put pucks on net, as showcased by his 113 shots this season. Filip Forsberg also isn’t afraid to drive the net and has 11 goals and as many assists on 91 shots to show for it.