The Boston Bruins have began their run in the Bruce Cassidy era with a brilliant 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. David Pastrnak added two goals, David Backes scored the first one, Patrice Bergeron netted one, Tim Schaller buried his 7th of the season, and Brad Marchand scored an empty-net goal to put the nail in the inevitable coffin. Following the result, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are now tied with 24 goals on the year. Also in the game, goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 23 of the 26 shots that faced him, while the Bruins managed to chase Martin Jones out of the cage following the third goal against. Aaron Dell allowed the other two goals against for the Sharks.
Now, the challenge wasn’t the first game. As many expected the black and gold to come out with a fire underneath them, which they had. The challenge will be whether or not they can continue to use this momentum to possibly string together some important wins. The next few games will be interesting to follow, as they can predict the future when it comes to making the 2016-17 postseason. Let’s now go over the next three games on the radar for the Bruins.
1. Vancouver Canucks (24-24-6; 54 pts.; 6th in Pacific)
The Vancouver Canucks have become a rival team to the Boston Bruins ever since their seven-game series in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. A time where Canucks fans took it hard, and so did the streets of Vancouver. However this season, the Canucks are a struggling team, as showcased above. During the offseason, Vancouver signed former Bruins winger, Loui Eriksson. The signing hasn’t really paid off. The 31-year-old Swede has 11-11-22 totals in 54 games with a -7 rating.
The game is a Saturday matinee game, starting at 1 pm EST in the TD Garden. With the rivalry that has grown over the course of the past six years, it should make for an interesting matchup. This is the first of two games between the two teams, with the other coming on March 13th in Vancouver.
Also, it is now announced that Zdeno Chara should “be good to go” against the Canucks as stated Friday afternoon.
2. Montreal Canadiens (31-17-8; 70 pts.; 1st in Atlantic)
Ah, the good ole’ Boston/Montreal rivalry. Every hockey fan, (and sports fan), knows about the storied hatred for the two Original Six teams. After the 2016 Winter Classic disaster, the Bruins have been pushing for redemption. The season began with 2 losses to the Habs, however, Boston took the last win 2-1 in overtime back in December thanks to a key game-winning goal by Ryan Spooner. This is the final meeting this season unless they manage to meet in the postseason. A win would tie the season series, a big accomplishment for the B’s.
Not only is the game important due to the rivalry, it also has implications on the postseason that was mentioned before. Montreal currently stands in 1st in the Atlantic division, a whole ten points ahead of Boston. If the Bruins can secure a victory Sunday night in Boston, they can ride the rest of the season on some high momentum for sure.
3. San Jose Sharks (33-18-4; 70 pts.; 1st in Pacific)
As talked about at the beginning of the article, the Bruins kicked off the Cassidy era with a big win over the Sharks. Well after a long 6-day break, the Bruins will hit the ice again to begin the dreaded California trip, starting on February 19th. The Sharks will obviously be looking for redemption on the black and gold due to Thursday’s 6-3 loss. San Jose also needs some wins in order to hold the throne in the Pacific division. The Anaheim Ducks sit just two points behind them currently, while the Edmonton Oilers sit just four points back of the Sharks.
A problem for the Bruins heading into this contest, is that San Jose has been lights out when inside the SAP Center, holding an impressive record of 18-7-2 while being 15-11-2 on the road. Compare that to the Bruins, it’s almost the total opposite. Boston is 13-13-0 at home while they are 14-10-6 while visiting other teams this season. Following this game, Boston has a one-day break before play back-to-back late games against Anaheim then Los Angeles right after. Both of the back-to-back games begin at 10:30 pm EST.
So, will the Boston Bruins roll on the recent momentum from the Sharks and take these next three games? Or will they end up falling back to Earth?