The New York Islanders had little time to enjoy their shootout win after multiple comebacks from two-goal deficits Friday night. They hopped the plane home to prepare to host the Boston Bruins tonight.
The Bruins were off Friday but were coming off a back-to-back against the Penguins (regulation loss) and Ducks (shootout win). Tuukka Rask carried the load in both games; it's possible we see a battle of backups tonight with Chad Johnson expected to start for the Bruins.
That could be significant, because the Bruins have one of the best save percentages at 5-on-5 (.951), while the Islanders rank 29th with a .889. Johnson only has one start this season, where he played the full game conceding two goals on 16 shots.
Kind of funny how those two records are just a point apart in the standings, eh? Ah, the NHL and it's "The People Demand A Winner" regime.
The Bruins had to come back after a bad start and get a late equalizer before beating the Ducks in the eventual-death breakaway drill, but Claude Julien isn't want to analyze too much. Or maybe he is:
"I think our starts could be better. But sometimes I feel we analyze the game way too much from one thing to another," said Julien. "I try to stay away from that stuff. The one thing I would like to see is that we do get off to better starts. There’s no doubt there."
I think he's saying we analyze too much but sometimes it has merit. Or maybe he's just talking about the violence inherent in the system.
He went on to touch upon the theme we can't avoid in these situations: How much a back-to-back should matter. We know that on aggregate it does matter; the odds favor the fresher team. But results often vary. Still:
"I know if I was sitting in the other team’s building and I knew the other was playing a back-to-back, I’d want to make sure my team got off to a good start. Which will probably be the case for us when we’re in New York [on Saturday] when we want to get off to a good start."
Anyway, the Bruins are still good. They still appear to have the better of play more often than not. (Note that the Isles have climbed up that "Fenwick close" table some over the past week. We'll see where they've settled in by the end of the first quarter.)
- Thomas Vanek is seen as a "Bruins killer" by their fans -- and just as well, since he his 57 points (29 goals) against them in 50 career games is more than he has against any other team.
- With the back-to-back and travel, coach's declarations are yet to come. But NHL.com's Brian Compton was like most in betting on the same lineup and a start for Kevin Poulin.
- Tale of two lockout half-seasons: The Isles lost 4-1 the last time the Bruins were at the Coliseum, but they beat the Bruins 2-1 (Josh Bailey: two goals!) in their last meeting, part of the Islanders' resurgence on their way to the playoffs last spring. Which version of the team shows up tonight?
- In good news for the Bruins, Loui Eriksson is back skating but is not ready to return after John Scott "I don't know how to check"d his head off.
- Boston.com describes the Bruins lines this way, since Johnny "I was born with a hockey name" Boychuk is out injured:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Reilly Smith-Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand
Chris Kelly-Ryan Spooner-Carl Soderberg
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski-Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for this game over here. Be the closest on the time, get a bonus point (and not a silly Bettman one either!).
P.S. GIF For You
Here is Cory Conacher kicking Travis Hamonic last night. The league typically frowns upon any attempt to kick another player. Slashing, crosschecking, hooking, tripping, all part of the deal -- but kicking is supposed to be over the line. Right?