With the fewest regulation losses in the NHL, the Boston Bruins have had little issue with their opposition this season, sans one notable exception.
Perhaps improbably, the cellar-dwelling Detroit Red Wings have a chance to win their sixth straight game over the Bruins when they visit Boston on Saturday afternoon. The Red Wings, with an NHL-low 14 wins, have beaten the Bruins twice in Detroit this season — 4-2 on Nov. 8 and 3-1 last Sunday.
Now the season series shifts to Boston, where the Bruins are 20-2-9. The teams will meet again at TD Garden on March 24.
The Bruins enter Saturday’s contest having won seven of eight, the lone loss being the setback at Detroit. Boston had a 40-20 advantage in shots in that game but couldn’t solve Jonathan Bernier, who made 39 saves in net.
“Give Detroit credit for winning the hockey game, but I don’t think they were the better team,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy postgame said.
The Red Wings have rarely been the better team of late, losing 12 of their last 14 games (2-11-1). But when it comes to facing Boston, something seems to click.
“It seems like they get excited to play us,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. “For whatever reason, it’s a tough matchup for us.”
Boston is coming off a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday in which star winger David Pastrnak completed his fourth hat trick of the season to surpass the 40-goal mark (41). He’s the first Bruin to accomplish that feat since Glen Murray scored 44 in 2002-03.
Tuukka Rask also shined in net in the contest with 28 saves, improving to 13-0-6 at home this season. He has started Boston’s last three games while Jaroslav Halak recovers from an upper-body injury; Rask stopped 17 shots in Sunday’s loss at Detroit.
The Red Wings have followed that victory with two straight defeats, including 4-1 on the road against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. Andreas Athanasiou, who scored twice against the Bruins four days prior, got Detroit on the board first in the second period before the Devils answered with four in the third in a four-minute span.
“To get better as a group, and to get better individually, you gotta take steps forward, with as few steps backwards as you can,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I think we’ve taken a good number of steps forward. Tonight, we took steps backward.
“How do you handle it? You come out against Boston on Saturday and you make sure you take steps in the right direction.”
After Saturday, the Red Wings travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins on Sunday afternoon before returning home Tuesday. The Bruins will also play Sunday, against the Rangers in New York, in the start of a four-game road trip.
Jeremy Lauzon is eligible to play for Boston on Saturday after serving a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of the Arizona Coyotes’ Derek Stepan last Saturday.
–Field Level Media