Both the Bruins and Sharks went deep into the playoffs last season, and are picked by experts to be contenders again this year. Boston has gotten off to a fast start, going 8-1-2 over the first 11 games, including victories in their last three. The Sharks, on the other hand, have struggled out of the gate. Despite a talented roster, they have started off 4-7-1, good for 7th in the Pacific Division. Two teams going in different directions will face off Tuesday evening at the TD Banknorth Garden.
The Bruins are coming off back-to-back wins against St. Louis and the New York Rangers, putting up 11 goals in the two games. Conversely, San Jose has lost their last two games (to Toronto and Ottawa) giving up nine goals and only scoring three.
First Line On Fire
One of the only concerns for the Bruins is the lack of secondary scoring. This issue was aggravated by the injury to David Krejci, which further stretches the forward depth. While I don’t think a team cannot rely on one line the entire season, the trio of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak is doing their best to prove me wrong. Over the current three game win-streak, that trio produced 19 points, including 13 versus the Rangers Sunday night. I am a proponent of breaking up the first line to spread the scoring out, but as long as they are producing at this rate, they should stay together.
Injured Players Return
Hopefully, secondary scoring should become a non-issue, as it was announced this morning that both David Krejci and Chris Wagner would return to the lineup. Joakim Nordstrom will remain out indefinitely with an infection of some sort.
With Krejci and Wagner slotting back into the lineup, it will provide Boston with some depth and get them the closest they have been to a full lineup all season. Krejci will center the second line with DeBrusk and Heinen, Coyle will drop down and get Bjork and Ritchie. Everyone knows how much Cassidy likes to rearrange his lineups, but at least to start, Boston will come out like this:
#NHLBruins morning rushes:— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 29, 2019
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Heinen
Bjork – Coyle – Ritchie
Wagner – Kuraly – Backes
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Clifton
Sharks Struggling To Begin Season
There is no reason that a roster as talented as San Jose’s should have nine points in twelve games to start the season. They lost long time Shark and former captain Joe Pavelski to Dallas as a free agent this past summer. There should be enough leadership in that room with veterans like Thornton, Marleau, Karlsson, and Burns, but something is missing. New captain Logan Couture has struggled on the ice (for him) with only one goal, and off the ice with his outspoken style.
Sharks Captain Logan Couture calls out two Sharks players for ‘selfish play’ – Meier and Labanc were both on the ice for nearly 90 seconds in Overtime https://t.co/HzA8WiodLr
— HockeyTroll.ca (@Hockeytroll_ca) October 23, 2019
Goalies Not Getting It Done
The other area that is giving the Sharks angst is their two goalies. Unlike the Bruins, who can throw two quality goalies in the goal every night, San Jose can’t get consistent performances out of either of their netminders right now. Both goalies have GAA’s well above three, and save percentages below .900, which is not a good combination.
Martin Jones 2-5-1 3.39 GAA, .892% SV%
Aaron Dell 2-2 3.53 GAA, .891 SV%
Yeah, Pavelski would help out the Sharks problems with their biggest team issue: GOALTENDING.
— Mark (@ravensfan888) October 28, 2019
With Krejci and Wagner reentering the lineup this morning, it may take a period or so for everyone to get back on the same page? It would appear that Boston may be catching San Jose at the right time, but a lineup like the Sharks can do damage on any given night if they are on their game. Their lines should look like this tonight, with old friend Jumbo Joe Thornton slotting in at third line center:
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) October 29, 2019
WHEN TO WATCH: Tonight with puck drop at 7:00 PM, at TD Garden
WHERE TO WATCH: NESN
Follow me on Twitter: @jchrz19
Featured Image Via Randy Vazquez, Bay Area News Group