Our apologies for getting this week’s Hub of Hockey Weekly out a day later than usual. This week’s article will include last night’s tilt against the St. Louis Blues in the recap.
The Boston Bruins began their November schedule just like they ended October, collecting wins. The team had a dramatic come-from-behind victory in Pittsburgh before destroying the reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin in New York. A distracted club dropped their second season contest in Toronto on Saturday night, but the boys rebounded in their new Reverse Retro threads with a 3-1 win over their 2019 Stanley Cup Final opponents, the St. Louis Blues.
Despite the off-ice headlines, the Bruins remain the best team in the Eastern Conference while continuing to battle the Vegas Golden Knights for the top record in the entire league. After Monday night’s game, let’s see who else is on the schedule this week.
Thursday, Nov. 10 @ 7:00 PM vs. Calgary Flames (TD Garden)
Last season, the Calgary Flames were Stanley Cup contenders who finished with the third-best record in the Western Conference. They had a busy offseason with various roster moves, losing 100-point players Johnny Gaudreau (Columbus) and Matthew Tkachuk (Florida). To fill those holes, they acquired the league’s third-highest scorer last season, Jonathan Huberdeau, before signing reigning champion Nazam Kadri. Defenceman Mackenzie Weegar also joined the team, altering their entire lineup, some say for the better.
So far, the Flames have struggled and just finished an eight-game homestand that only got worse with every game. The team heads to the east coast for a much-needed holiday out of town.
Historically, these two teams have met 113 times, with the Bruins holding a convincing lead in the overall series with a 63-36-10-4 record. Last year the teams split their two games, Calgary won 4-0 in Boston, and the Bruins won 4-2 in Alberta. Furthermore, the two teams have been altering wins in their opponents home rinks since 2018, the last year a team managed to sweep a season series (Boston 2-0).
One of the players to watch for the Flames is Kadri, a former member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who has a long history against the Bruins. In 36 games, he’s netted 22 points to go along with 28 penalty minutes. He’s currently leading the Flames in scoring and appears to be their only offensive threat, firing on all cylinders a month into the season.
For the hometown boys, captain Bergeron is a point-per-game player against the Flames, scoring 23 points in 23 games. The reigning Selke Trophy winner is amongst the league leaders in face-off win percentage again and is closing in on 1,000 points for his career.
The Flames and Bruins will meet one final time in Calgary on Feb. 27, 2023.
Saturday, Nov. 12 @ 7:00 PM vs. Buffalo Sabres (KeyBank Center)
When you look at the NHL standings, one of the season’s early surprises is the Buffalo Sabres. The team has not made the playoffs since 2010-11 and continues to rack up high-end draft picks for a brighter future, which may be now.
The Sabres were in the headlines last season because disgruntled captain, and Massachusettes native, Jack Eichel needed neck surgery, but the team refused. Neither party budged, and eventually, Eichel got traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. In the exchange, Tage Thompson came to Buffalo and, in 2022-23, is tied with Rasmus Dahlin for the team lead in points.
The Bruins and Sabres have had an intense rivalry, which includes epic battles during the regular season and playoffs that dates back to 1970. In 308 head-to-head matchups during the regular season, the Bruins have a slight edge 153-114-29-12, outscoring their division rivals 999-947. In 2021-22 the Bruins swept the season series 4-0, with an impressive 18-4 advantage on the scoresheet. During the shortened 2020-21 season, the B’s were 7-1 against the Sabres, piling up 32 goals compared to 16 from their opponents. The last time the Sabres took a season series against the Bruins was 2017-18, in which they took three out of four games.
The player to watch from the Sabres is former first-overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, who made headlines for scoring in five straight games to start the regular season. The 22-year-old defenceman is finally finding his stride in the league and is turning into one of the game’s best defenders.
For the Bruins, the player to watch is Ullmark, who is a perfect 3-0-0 against his former team. He’s given up four goals in those contests, which calculates to a microscopic 0.75 goals-against average. Because Jeremy Swayman is away with an injury, Ullmark is playing on a nightly basis and has shown no signs of buckling under the heavy workload in the early going. Nevertheless, he’ll want to be on top of his game since the Sabres have the fourth most goals in the NHL.
These two teams will meet three more times, once in December and twice in March of 2023.
Sunday, Nov. 13 @ 7:00 PM vs. Vancouver Canucks (TD Garden)
This weekend the Bruins will participate in just their second back-to-back of the season. After returning from a short trip to upstate New York for a Saturday night game, the B’s welcome the Vancouver Canucks to town on Sunday.
These two teams are on opposite sides of the continent, and except for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, they rarely meet each other for more than two games a season. The Bruins have a .672 win percentage (ninth best in franchise history) against the Canucks, thanks to a 75-32-15-3 record. Last season, the teams split the season series, each winning on home ice, following a pattern set in 2019-20. The last time a team took both games of the matchup occurred in 2018-19, with Vancouver claiming both.
The Canucks were the last team to earn a win in 2022-23, and the club is facing many questions about the present and the future. One of their top players, Elias Pettersson, is one to keep an eye on during the game since he’s collected 15 points in 12 games so far this year. His career high is 66 points, and despite the team’s recent struggles, he may break through that proverbial glass ceiling to set a new personal best point total.
Taylor Hall is the Bruins player to watch on Sunday. In 39 career games against the Canucks, Hall has tallied ten goals and 27 helpers for 37 points. With five goals in 12 games so far this campaign, this game could be another contest to pad his stats.
These two teams meet one final time in Vancouver on Feb. 25, 2023.
Check back every Monday for another Hub of Hockey Weekly post, where we preview more upcoming Bruins games. Also, don’t forget to follow Causeway Crowd on Twitter for game-day trivia and player-of-the-game polls!