Thursday, January 16, 2014
W2W4: Bruins at Stars, 8:30 ET
By Joe McDonald
The Boston Bruins (29-15-2, 60 points) will face the Dallas Stars (21-18-7, 49 points) Thursday night (8:30 ET) at American Airlines Center. Here’s what to watch for:
RIVALRY RENEWED: The Stars host the Bruins in their second and final meeting of the regular season. A rivalry was born between these two teams on July 4 when the organizations completed a seven-player trade. The Bruins sent forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley and defenseman Ryan Button to Dallas in exchange for forwards Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and defenseman Joe Morrow. So far, the deal has worked for both sides. When the puck drops tonight, the Bruins will try to avenge a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars on Nov. 5 at TD Garden.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night at TD Garden. Boston is 1-3-0 in its last four games and 5-5-0 in the last 10. The Bruins are 11-10-0 on the road this season. Boston is 3-1-2 against Central Division opponents and 9-4-2 against Western Conference teams. The Stars posted a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night at American Airlines Center. Dallas is 5-3-1 in its last eight home games and has registered points in 10 of its 14 games on home ice.
MASKED MEN: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is in a bit of a slump right now, winning only twice in his last six starts. Overall, he’s 22-12-2 with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. In two career starts against the Stars, he’s 1-0-1. If Kari Lehtonen gets the nod for the Stars, he’s 17-12-7 with a 2.63 GAA and a .916 SP in 37 starts this season. He made 31 saves against the Oilers on Tuesday night. He’s 7-5-0 with one shutout in 12 career starts against the Bruins.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Bruins’ special teams have struggled of late. In the past seven games, Boston has allowed 10 power-play goals on 27 opportunities. On the power play, the Bruins are 1-for-23 in the past eight games. Overall, Boston still has the 10th-ranked PP in the league, while the Stars are 29th in that category. Despite the Bruins’ recent lack of success on the penalty kill, they’re still 12th overall in the league. The Stars are ranked 21st on the PK.
WELCOME BACK: Both Eriksson and Smith return to Dallas for the first time since the trade that brought them to Boston last summer. They’ve already played against their former team on Nov. 5 in Boston, but being back in Dallas will be a bit different.
“It would be nice to get a win for the team, but they beat us last time, so it would be nice to get the two points back and get back going in the right direction as a team,” Smith said. “Personally, it doesn’t change too much. It’ll be good to see some of the faces that I know there, but other than that it’s all business.”
Smith has been outstanding for the Bruins this season. The right wing has 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 46 games for Boston. Eriksson, who has missed a total of 20 games this season due to a pair of concussions, has five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 26 games for the Bruins.