The Bruins will face the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday in the second half of their weekend back to back. Coming off an impressive 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, the Bruins will look to push their current win streak to seven games. The Red Wings, on the other hand, are looking to right a sinking ship. They've lost 10 of their last 11 games, with that one win coming on Thursday over the Buffalo Sabres. To make matters worse, the win was followed up by a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets by the score of 2-0, the third shutout of the Wings in their last four games. These two teams are not just on opposite ends of the recent spectrum, but the entire season as well. The Bruins are still leading the league in points with 80, while the Red Wings are dead last at 30 points, 13 points behind the next worst team.
With this being the second game of a back to back the Bruins will likely rest Rask, once again turning the blue paint over to Halak. Halak has been anything but your typical backup this year with a 14-6-6 record to go with three shutouts. Halak has also posted some impressive peripheral stats with a 2.36 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. The Bruins have been able to rest Rask in hopes of keeping him fresh for a long playoff run due to the performance of Halak so far. Halak has won his last three starts, allowing only four goals over the winning streak. The Red Wings really could pick either of their goalies to start on Sunday since neither has won many games. Jimmy Howard has had his share of trouble this season with a 2-21-2 record. The sub par record is backed up with some very poor numbers, including a goals against average of 3.98 and a save percentage of .889. Jonathan Bernier has been the better of the two, but still only has a record of 11-14-2 with a single shutout. Bernier also is much closer to league average stats with a 2.89 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. The biggest reason I could see Howard starting Sunday is because he just had his best game of the season against the Blue Jackets, making 42 saves on 43 shots against. With that in mind, and the fact Bernier played the previous three games, I give the starting edge to Howard.
Players to Watch
Even with Detroit’s offense seemingly in a deeper hibernation than a grizzly bear in the middle of winter, they do have some talented young forwards. Most notably Dylan Larkin, who leads the Wings in points with 39 and assists with 24. Larkin scored 73 points just last season, and is one of the fastest skaters in the league. Tyler Bertuzzi is another young forward who’s is in the midst of a breakout season, leading the Wings with 18 goals just three shy of his career high set last season of 21. One final player to watch from the Wings is Robby Fabbri, who was traded to the Red Wings by the Blues early this season. In just 39 games Fabbri has scored 27 points with the Red Wings, giving them another very young and very talented scoring threat. From the Bruins there are plenty of forwards to keep and eye on. The most obvious is David Pastrnak who broke out of his mini two game scoring slump with two powerplay assists last game against Arizona. Another player who had a big game against Arizona was Charlie Coyle who scored two goals and set up plenty of other scoring chances that just didn’t make it into the net. Two more players who could have big games are Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork. Neither player scored a point in the game against the Coyotes but they were on the ice contributing to the success of their teammates. Facing Detroit a team giving up 3.77 goals a game there should be plenty of scoring chances to go around. I wouldn’t be surprised if both of these talented forwards found the score sheet for a point or more.
Just because the Red Wings are the worst team in the league doesn’t mean the Bruins can take their foot off the gas. Considering we already lost to the Wings earlier this year the Bruins should be motivated to make sure that doesn’t happen again. The top lines should also want to put up some quick points so all four lines can see plenty of ice time. This will give the team a chance to rest some of the tired legs with such a quick turn around between games. Another thing to watch out for is this teams tendency to play to the level of their competition. This habit has led to a few losses in games the team should have won. If we can get off to a fast start and just play a solid team game the win streak should reach seven games.
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