Boston Bruins 28-11-1 (57 points, 1st Northeast Division, 2nd Eastern Conference)
Carolina Hurricanes 15-23-7 (37 points, 5th Southeast Division, 14th Eastern Conference)
Bruins’ Scoring Leaders
Tyler Seguin 17-21-38, Patrice Bergeron 11-25-36, Milan Lucic 15-18-33
Hurricanes’ Scoring Leaders
Eric Staal 10-23-33, Tuomo Ruutu 15-11-26, Jeff Skinner (inj.) 12-12-24
Tim Thomas 18-7-0, 1.95, .939; Tuukka Rask 10-4-1, 1.59, .945
Cam Ward 15-16-6, 3.12, .901; Brian Boucher 0-4-1, 3.27, .888; Justin Peters 0-2-0, 4.57, .898
Offense (Goals Per Game) Boston (3.62/1st), Carolina (2.62/16th)
Defense (Goals Allowed Per Game) Boston (1.90/1st), Carolina (3.27/28th)
Powerplay Boston (18.4%/14th), Carolina (15.1%/20th)
Penalty Kill Boston (85.8%/7th), Carolina (77.4%/27th)
Even-Strength (Goal Ratio) Boston (2.10/1st), Carolina (0.80/27h)
David Krejci – Ten-game scoring streak (5-10-15), 31 points in 29 games
Tyler Seguin – Scored in eight of ten (4-8-12)
Nathan Horton – Five goals, seven points in last five games
Patrice Bergeron – Tallied eight points in last five games (4-4-8)
Eric Staal – Points in six of seven (3-10-13)
Brandon Sutter – Four points in last four games (2-2-4)
Cam Ward – In last 4 games, 2-1-1 with a 2.22 GAA and a .937 Sv%
The Boston Bruins head to Raleigh, Saturday night, to take on the lowly Carolina Hurricanes in the third match-up between the squads this season. This game begins the B’s longest road trip (to date … second longest of 2011-12) this season – four games that will take the Bruins through Florida then back to New Jersey before returning home on January 21.
The B’s and ‘Canes met twice already – coming less than a week apart in Boston’s horrendous October and both ending in losses for the Black and Gold. Carolina holds the distinction of being the only squad yet to defeat the Bruins by more than two goals, a 4-1, thanks to a discipline breakdown by the defending champs (70 PiMs, all coming in the second and third periods) where they allowed nine man disadvantage situations and two powerplay goals against.
The game was notable for several fights and scuffles as well as the almost self-destructive manner with which the B’s gave up a shot at points with some poor play and two five-on-three goals allowed in the last third of the final frame.
Since October ended, the Bruins’ have been on an unbelievable tear – winning 25 of 30 matches and taking 51 of 60 available points. The Hurricanes have seen nearly the opposite – after finishing October at .500 (4-4-3), the squad has struggled to stay afloat, going 11-19-4 since. Their twenty-eighth ranked team defense is a major issue and the ‘Canes have allowed opponents four goals or more eighteen times on the season (forty percent).
Of note since the teams last met has been the exodus of one ‘Canes Head Coach, Paul Maurice, and the installation of a new one – former All-Star Kirk Muller. Despite this change, Carolina has continued to lose, going 7-10-3 under the former Hab’s direction.
Expected out of the lineup for Saturday’s action are several key members of the Hurricanes. Jeff Skinner, the 2011 Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year has been out with a concussion since taking a hit from Edmonton’s Andy Sutton on December 7 (Muller’s first win as coach of the ‘Canes). Skinner has recently returned to practice with the team but has yet to be cleared for contact.
Also out for Carolina are defenseman Joni Pitkanen (concussion – out until February) and backup ‘tender Brian Boucher (lower body – on IR). Chad LaRose is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The Bruins will be sans-Brad Marchand for the third consecutive game thanks to his suspension for clipping Vancouver’s Sami Salo a week ago. Jordan Caron may get his second consecutive start (over Zach Hamill) after looking solid and scoring a gift-wrapped goal in the B’s victory Thursday over the Canadiens.
Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @BobMandBTR