The Boston Bruins are on a mini three-game road trip through California, visiting the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks. The National Hockey League’s best team will be busy with three contests in four nights before returning to Boston on Thursday to face the Seattle Kraken.
On Thursday night, the Bruins fell behind early during the first period with the Kings but rallied in the third (sound familiar) to remain the league’s best team with a 26-4-4 record and untouchable 64 points. They were led by David Pastrnak and an unsuspecting hero, Trent Frederic, who collected two goals to finish his night with a slobber knocker against Brendan Lemieux.
After having Friday off, the Bruins head into San Jose to face a team that has struggled this season and currently sits eight games under .500. Although no contest or opponent can be taken lightly, the boys may have their hands full in the Bay Area.
Tonight’s Game Notes
The Bruins may have the best record in the league; however, they finished the 2022 calendar year with two extra time losses before opening up the 2023 year with a win at the Winter Classic. In their last ten games, the black and gold are 7-0-3 with back-to-back wins.
Furthermore, they remain undefeated at home in regulation, including another come-from-behind win during the Winter Classic at Fenway, with all four losses occurring on the road. Hopefully, head coach Jim Montgomery has the troops prepared because tonight’s contest could be a trap again. Although the team continues to fire on all cylinders and find ways to win, a team like the Sharks eventually comes along and throws a wrench in the plan.
The Sharks are 3-4-3 in their last ten games after dropping a Friday night overtime contest to the Bruins’ next opponent, the Ducks. Currently, San Jose is the worse team at home, with a 4-10-6 record, and they haven’t won in front of their fans since a Dec. 22 contest against Minnesota. Collectively, the team is minus-27 in goal differential, sixth worse in the league, which should play to Boston’s advantage as the league’s best at plus-60.
Players to Watch
The Bruins have collected at least one point in the last 12 games, giving the boys extra motivation to continue the streak. In the previous five games, Pastrnak has three goals and is just another three away from cracking the 30-goal plateau for the fifth time in this career. Historically, Pastrnak has four goals and three assists in nine games against the Sharks, one of just six teams he has yet to collect at least ten points again. Even though San Jose has All-Star Erik Karlsson on the blue line, Pastrnak could have a monster game, further building his case for a massive new contract in the offseason.
There is no easy way to say that the Sharks have had a rough start to the 2022-23 season; however, their lone bright spot is Karlsson’s resurgence as one of the game’s best defensemen on the blue line. After watching his point totals slowly decline over the last four seasons, his 54 points thus far are the best numbers he’s had since 2017-18. Additionally, he is currently on pace to break his career high of 82 points in 2015-16. Furthermore, Karlsson has exploded for eight points in his last five games and is a threat every time he steps on the ice.
Tonight’s game will mark the 44th time these two teams have met since San Jose joined the league in 1992. As expected, the Bruins hold an edge in the all-time matchup with a 26-12-5-0 record for a .633 winning percentage. Although they have dominated the overall matchup, the black and gold have struggled at SAP Center with a 10-7-2-0 record in 19 games but have a slight edge in scoring 52-49.
The Bruins had won the last nine meetings between the two teams dating back to 2015-16 when the Sharks swept the season series with 5-4 and 3-2 wins. The only players in that game still in the lineup are Pastrnak, Marchand, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron.
After tonight’s game in the Bay Area, the Bruins will depart and head south to face off against the Ducks, who last played on Friday night.