The Boston Bruins didn’t have much time to celebrate their 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks last night in the Bay Area before hitting the ice again less than 24 hours later against the Anaheim Ducks. Statistically, the Bruins have earned a point in 13 consecutive games and will have their streak on the line against one of the worse teams in the Pacific Division. Realistically, the Ducks could take advantage of a road-weary team on the verge of returning home.
However, on the other hand, the Ducks present an opportunity for star players to reach milestones, like David Pastrnak hitting the 30-goal mark or Jeremy Swayman making saves to build his confidence for the stretch run. No matter how the game unfolds, between teams in opposite directions, there are still a few talking points, like Hampus Lindholm returning to Anaheim, where he spent the first years of his career.
Tonight’s Bruins Game Notes
For fans who stayed up past midnight last night, the Bruins recently played 24 hours ago against the Sharks, rallying again in the third period to take a 4-2 win. The offense clicked, with Pastrnak collecting two goals and Brad Marchand collecting two assists. Ideally, they should be riding this momentum into southern California, where the Ducks present a list of new problems.
On Thursday, Bruins netminder Linus Ullmark earned his first career All-Star Game selection, and the Swedish goaltender will be joined in Florida by Troy Terry, the lone Ducks representative for now. There’s another young gun, Trevor Zegras, in the lineup who appears in nightly highlight reels and was recently on the cover of NHL 23. Together with the newly acquired John Klingberg, they present a unique challenge against opponents who think visiting Anaheim is a walk in the park.
Despite finding an upgrade on defense in 2022 with the Klingberg addition, the Ducks are currently a minus-67 in goal differential, with much of the problem stemming from John Gibson’s poor start. However, the team’s issues are not just on the backend; there isn’t a single player in the lineup with a plus rating, so scoring goals and preventing them are plaguing the team from start to bottom. For perspective purposes, only four Bruins players have a negative rating, and most of them have been substitute players, not full-time guys.
Currently, the Ducks are 5-4-1 in their last ten games, with their most recent win coming against the Sharks on Friday night in San Jose. They are 8-10-1 at home, a bit better than their 4-14-3 record on the road; however, their 12 wins this season rank second worse in the entire league. Meanwhile, the Bruins roll into town on an 8-0-2 streak looking to improve their 12-4-1 record as visitors. Of course, with the top record in the league, the black and gold are plus-62 in goal differential, 28 points ahead of their next competition, the Dallas Stars (plus-34).
Bruins & Ducks Players to Watch
There will be two players to watch in tonight’s contest; the first one is Pastrnak, who is on the verge of scoring his 30th goal for the sixth time in his career. Realistically, this year would have marked the seventh straight season of reaching the plateau; however, he only managed 20 in the shortened 2020-21 season. In the last five games, he’s potted five goals and has seven points.
The other player to watch is Lindholm, who returns to Anaheim for the first time in his career after spending the first nine years as a member of the Ducks. The Swedish defenceman signed a massive contract extension with the Bruins in March and exploded out of the gate leading many to speculate he’d win the Norris Trophy at the pace he was on. Ultimately, his production has dipped a little bit, with no points in the last five games, yet he’s leading the team with a plus-27 rating, so he’s still contributing on a nightly basis. Tonight’s game should be emotional as he returns to a place he called home and where he honed his craft into one of the game’s elite rearguards.
As mentioned earlier, the Ducks may be struggling to string together wins; however, they got some star power in the lineup. Their top three scorers are Terry, Zegras, and Mason McTavish, all under 26, which means the future is bright in southern California. Recently, there has been significant roster turnover, with franchise icons Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry leaving. However, they left the keys to some highly skilled players who get creative with the puck on their sticks. Furthermore, no lead is safe with the kids on the ice.
Tonight the Bruins will face off against one of the five teams they have a losing record against in their 98 years. Historically, the black and gold are 17-20-2-1 against the Ducks after 40 meetings and trail in goals scored 114-103. Outside of a long, storied rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens (.457 win percentage) and Detroit Red Wings (.498), the Bruins never fared well against the Hamilton Tigers (.167), the Minnesota Wild (.466), or the Ducks (.463).
Although the teams are currently going in different directions, the Bruins still have some ground to make up to get on the positive side of this rivalry which started in 1993. However, history will not be on their side at the Honda Center, where the Bruins are 7-10-2 in 19 games where they have been outscored 46-51.
This is the second seasonal meeting between the two teams, with the Bruins escaping a 2-1 shootout win on Oct 20, 2022, at TD Garden. The win on home ice started a new streak for the B’s, who dropped both contests during the 2021-22 season.
Who’s Next for Boston
The Bruins will likely board the plane, return to Beantown after the game, and enjoy three days off before facing off against the Seattle Kraken, one of the season’s early surprises.