Bruins Focus: ECF Rematch Vs. Hurricanes On Deck For Boston This Week


The Bruins cannot stop winning.

Boston is coming off a 4-0-0 week that includes two victories over the Montreal Canadiens. David Pastrnak continued his torrid pace and potted his 25th goal in the Bruins’ 27th game while Brad Marchand upped his team-leading point total to 43.

Oh, they’re also doing this without Patrice Bergeron, who’s been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Nov. 25. Head coach Bruce Cassidy said the top-line center is considered day-to-day, but does not have a timeline for when Bergeron will return to action.

But Boston still is getting healthier with the return of David Backes, who scored the game-winning goal in the B’s 3-1 win over Montreal on Sunday in his first game back since Nov. 5.

Now the Black and Gold shift their focus a three-game week with each contest at TD Garden.

Let’s take a look on what’s on tap for the Bruins:

Wednesday, Dec. 3 vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
Thursday, Dec. 5 vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 7 p.m. ET
Saturday, Dec. 7 vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7 p.m. ET

What You Need To Know
The B’s and Hurricanes have not met since the Eastern Conference finals in May when Boston swept Carolina from the playoffs and ended its Cinderella story run. The Canes have lost two of their last three games coming into the Garden, but are coming off a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Hurricanes and Bruins almost have identical penalty kill percentages, with Carolina killing 84.4 percent of its penalties and Boston killing 84.5 percent.

The Blackhawks are having a tough season with a 10-12-5 record and are the third-worst team in the NHL and dead-last in the Central Division after a 4-0 loss Monday night against the St. Louis Blues. Chicago’s power play sits at 26th, while the Bruins have the second-best power play in the league. The team also has lost five of its last six contests.

Colorado will be the strongest team the Black and Gold will face this week. The Avalanche boast a 16-8-2 record and have won their last three games prior to their Wednesday bout against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Avs historically have struggled against Boston, going 59-72-1 against it. Colorado also leads the NHL in goals per game with 3.73, but Boston boasts a league-leading 2.26 goals-against, so it certainly will be an interesting game to watch.

Who Bruins Need To Watch Out For
The power-play unit of Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter and Lucas Wallmark has just two man-advantage goals and seven regular-strength tallies, which doesn’t bode well against a Boston team that kills over 80 percent of its penalties. Old friend Dougie Hamilton, though, is having a stellar season. He leads Carolina in shots on goal with 94 and amassed 26 points in 26 games, bringing his total to 28. Hamilton easily could surpass his career-high 50 points from three seasons ago if he continues this pace.

Nathan MacKinnon has been a force, particularly over the Avalanche’s last four games. The center has racked up four goals and six assists. He earned the NHL’s First Star of the Week after amassing nine points in three games. Cale Makar picked up right where he left off for Colorado after bursting onto the scene in last year’s playoffs. The defenseman is averaging a point per game this season behind just fellow D-men John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, and Hamilton. He also boasts some dynamic speed the B’s will need to be cautious to keep any havoc Makar may create at a minimum in the offensive zone.

Similarly, the Bruins can’t lose track of Patrick Kane, who always poses a threat when he’s on the ice. He’s trying to get his injury-riddled team get back in the win column and build upon his 14 goals and 19 assists. He’s also has notched 15 points in his last 16 games. Robin Lehner, who’s been the best goalie for Chicago, missed Monday’s game with an illness. While he’s got a few days to recover once the Blackhawks hit Boston, it certainly won’t be ideal for them to go into a game against the league’s best team with a goalie not at 100 percent or potentially two back-up netminders.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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