Boston Bruins Prey on the Predators


Dec 16, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Boston Bruins center

Carl Soderberg

(34) dives to clear the puck ahead of a play by Nashville Predators left winger

Eric Nystrom

(24) during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators defeated the Bruins in a shootout 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Boston Bruins look to improve on their current ‘win-streak’ against the Nashville Predators. The last time these two teams met last week, they were shut down 3-2 after needing an additional period and a shootout to determine a victor. The Bruins played one of their strongest offensive games to date, but unfortunately, fell short.

Nashville is fresh off of a 5-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets last night and has forward James Neal back in the lineup who missed Saturday’s game due to an illness.  Neal’s line with Riberio and Forsberg has been one of the most lethal in the NHL this season,earning themselves a point against the Bruins on the 16th when Riberio found a way to put the puck past Rask for the team’s first goal of the night.

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    One of the key matters of focus for the Bruins tonight has to be containing the Preds offense. Riberio has four goals and seven assists in his last 10 games, making him a prime target to watch. Monday night’s game brought a lot of eye appealing goals with a breakaway goal from  Wilson and then a laser shot from Craig Smith after Forsberg portrayed solid board work to get the puck to Smith for the play. The Predators offense is a target that the Bruins are going to have to contain at all costs in order to stand a chance at beating them tonight.

    They are also going to need their netminder to step up. While Rask has played well for the Bruins thus far, he can be better. They need him to be the Vezina Trophy winner that he was last season and not the average bear we have been seeing and are, unfortunately, growing accustomed to.  Rask is currently ranked 14th overall for netminding, holding a 13-10-3 record with a 2.52 goals against average and .913 save percentage. His goals against average good enough for 38th in the League, not exactly where Rask is usually slated. While this season has been a bust for the majority, despite a nice month of November success, Rask has been off from the get-go. One has to wonder, was last season his prime or is the newborn daughter of his playing a factor in his on-ice performance. Nonetheless, he needs to be able to figure out what the issue is and be the Stanley Cup caliber player that we in Boston know he possesses.

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    Scoring goals is perhaps the biggest concern for the Bruins at this point in time, their inability to shoot the puck at the net and generate offense is really becoming worrisome, especially given that the Bruins aren’t shopping for an answer. They are scoring below average for a team that is usually among the top of the rankings and are holding down the 6th spot in the Atlantic Division, one point behind Shawn Thornton and the Florida Panthers.

    Their power play is lacking productivity and while Claude Julien blames it on the lack of calls going in their favor, it isn’t an excuse. The Bruins have always had to deal with adversity and calls not going their way. However, when you lack consistency regardless of a man-advantage, it’s hard to criticize any one aspect of their game.

    Heading into a short Christmas break the Bruins are in dire need of the 2 points in order to remain in playoff spot contention. They have, for lack of a better term, slacked off, enough this season and need to start bringing their best efforts forward. With all but Adam McQuaid being 100% healthy, there is no reason why they can’t get the ball rolling and steam roll straight through to the playoffs from here on out.