With the Canucks heading to town for their second and final matchup of the season with the Bruins, this game has the potential for some fireworks.
As you may remember, Vancouver’s Brandon Prust blatantly speared Marchand below the belt in the teams’ first meeting on December 5. The Bruins led 4-0, so Prust decided to target Marchand behind the play with just under two minutes to go, receiving a ten minute misconduct for his actions.
Prust was only fined $5,000 by the league, and in classic douchebag fashion, called it the “best money I ever spent.” He was never forced to answer the bell on the ice, since no one saw what happened at the time, but that leads to the main question heading into Thursday: Will the Bruins look to even the score with Prust?
Not by spearing him where the sun don’t shine, but by dropping the gloves and settling things the way hockey players have been for decades. This team always stresses the fact that they have each other’s backs, and this is a perfect opportunity to show it. After all, hockey players/fans have long memories. Deal with it early on in the game, and then move on.
As for the game itself, the Bruins enter Thursday night’s matchup feeling pretty good about themselves. They have won three straight, and are coming off of a 4-1 win on the road over their biggest rivals.
The Canucks are 5-3-2 in their last ten, and will be without their second-highest scorer in Henrik Sedin for at least two weeks after he was injured on Sunday.
Both teams are on the playoff bubble in their respective conferences, so points are at a premium. Boston sits in the first wild card spot in the East, just one point behind both the Red Wings and Lightning with a game in hand. Vancouver is on the outside looking in, as it is two points behind the Avs for the final wild card spot in the West.
Vancouver enters this game ranked 22nd in the NHL in goals scored (113), and 24th in goals against (130). Their power play is ranked 23rd (17.1%), with their penalty kill ranked 17th (80.1%). The B’s could put this one out of reach using their special teams, with their 2nd-ranked power play (27.0%) and 7th-ranked penalty kill (84.5%).
After just getting David Pastrnak back from injury, David Krejci looks set to return as well, which will give the offense a huge boost. Wednesday’s practice was a good indicator that the 29-year-old center is just about ready to get back into the lineup. He skated in his usual slot alongside Beleskey and Eriksson, and on the first power play unit, while also taking contact for the first time since being injured on December 27.
With a healthy and streaking Bruins team, Ryan Miller should be more nervous than when he sees Milan Lucic barreling down the ice towards him.
[Photo via canucks.nhl.com]