‘Wild’ Expectations

Despite their wretched start to the season, the Boston Bruins have rewarded their fan base recently with noticeably strong play. During this time, their penalty kill and power play have improved mightily. Tuukka Rask has returned to his Vezina Trophy caliber self. Zdeno Chara’s plays have silenced even his most formidable critics. Lastly, the bottom portion of the lineup has contributed offensively.

Despite the improvements in various fields, one burden hangs over their heads: their inability to get valuable points against playoff caliber teams.

62 seconds separated the Bruins from taking at least one point away from the Canadiens in Montreal. Obviously Paul Byron squandered those hopes. The loss, albeit a crippling one, did prove one thing: Boston can hang with the best of them.

Minnesota handled Boston easily in their matchup on October 25th, 5-0. Tonight marks Boston’s 6th matchup against a team that made the playoffs last season since their trouncing against the Wild. A small portion to digest, sure. But it makes for an interesting narrative.

In last weeks entry, I noted that Bruins fans need to relish in the smaller victories. Anytime they can beat a playoff caliber team, the moral should improve. Similarly to how the Patriots beat up on other AFC East teams. It’s not until they go outside their division that you see how good or bad they are in specific areas.

Judging purely off the eyeball test alone, Boston is a demonstratively better team than in the beginning of October. Despite this months loses to the Rangers and the Canadiens, Boston has controlled the pace of play in the games in between. It should be noted that this all came against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season.

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October 25th marked what could have been the pinnacle of the Bruins season. Decimated by injuries, they turned to Malcolm Subban. It was his first start since he was held out to dry against St. Louis last season. To say the least, the year didn’t change much in the result department.

Boston will take on the 8-6-1 Wild tonight at 8 in St. Paul Minnesota. Much healthier, much more focused, and more than ready to get two points against a frequent flyer playoff team.

Tonight isn’t just another game on the schedule, it’s a measuring stick for the rest of the season. Minnesota is a team built from the ground up, eerily similar to Boston; stout goaltending, impressive defense, and four lines that run regularly.

In these particular games, a blow out is the furthest thing from expectation.

Tonight, I expect a high level of competition on both sides. These are two teams that desperately need two points to pull ahead in their divisions and conferences.

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With the regular season still in it’s infancy, these valuable points are very much up for grabs. Boston has proved one thing on the season so far, they are more than capable of beating up on the less fortunate teams. Now, it’s time to prove they’re still a perennial playoff contender.

However, they’ll most likely have to do it without Tuukka Rask and David Pastrnak, who both missed today’s practice.

 

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