Boston Bruins: Don’t play with fire against the Flames tonight

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 15: Johnny Gaudreau
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 15: Johnny Gaudreau /

The Boston Bruins welcome in a Western Conference foe tonight, their last home game before a West Coast roadtrip.  The Bruins can douse the Calgary Flames with a complete game.

The good news for the Boston Bruins is that they are nearing full health. The bad news is that their last two performances weren’t ideal, although they managed to escape with 2 out 4 possible points.  The Bruins are still on a tear, even with the losses to Anaheim and Buffalo in the last two weeks.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins had to dig deep into their bag of tricks in a bounce back win on Sunday against the NJ Devils after losing to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The Bruins will aim to put the weekend behind them and start another winning streak against a formidable foe in the Calgary Flames.

Tuukka Rask should be chomping at the bit to get the start in net tonight after seeing his personal point streak end at 21 games on Saturday.

Calgary Flames

The Flames boast some of the best young offensive talent in the league with Johnny Gaudrea, Sean Monahan, and Matthew Tkachuk. On the blue line, they are lead by veterans Mark Giordano, Travis Hamonic, and let’s not forget about old friend Dougie Hamilton.

Boston Bruins
CALGARY, AB – DECEMBER 4: Dougie Hamilton /

The Flames number one netminder, Mike Smith, sustained an injury on Sunday against the NY Islanders and is expected to be out tonight against the Bs, which leaves the door open for rookie goaltender David Rittich. However, the Flames are battle tested. Calgary carries a 4-2 record in February and sits at third in the highly competitive Pacific Division.

Keys  for the Bs

Pepper David Rittich early and often. Rittich has only played in 11 NHL games over the past two seasons and has started in 7 games this season. Though he has posted wins in 5 out of 7 starts, he is still very much unproven at the NHL level. The Bruins tend to look like the Patriots too often by starting slow and coming from behind to win games. It would behoove the Bs to put the pressure on the backup goalie from the drop and establish a lead early to prohibit Rittich from finding a rhythym.

Avoid getting burned by maintaining possession. The Flames have a combination of skill and grit on offense. The Bruins can mitigate the Flames’ offensive weapons by not allowing them to touch the puck, especially Gaudreau who can create something out of nothing and was awarded the second star in the NHL last week. The Bruins will need their puck moving defenseman to be sharp (McAvoy, KrugGrzelcyk) and their towers of power need to be strong in front of the net (Chara, Carlo, McQuaid) as Monahan and Tkachuk are world class power forwards.

Next: Bruins Should Open the Wallet and Pay Spooner

Spread the workload. The Bs’ depth has been critical to their success and they will need everyone to show up again tonight. The Flames are 3-1 in their last 4 games and all were decided by a goal. Calgary plays a tight game win or lose, so the Bruins must be firing on all cylinders to survive the Flames and earn two points.