Boston, MA - The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Boston Bruins are set to face off against one another tonight at 7 p.m. in TD Garden for their third and final matchup of the season. Both teams are on the rear end of back-to-backs, having played games yesterday.
For the Bruins, it’s an opportunity to build on the momentum gained from their solid all-around effort in yesterday’s Black Friday matinee victory over the New York Rangers, as well as an opportunity to head into a short break from game action feeling good with a 3-1 record for the week.
For the Blue Jackets, who currently sit at 7th place in the Metropolitan Division and 13th in the East, it is an opportunity to measure themselves against the conference-leading Bruins and potentially gain confidence in their game moving forward.
“They’re one of the elite teams of the league, one of the power houses of the East,” said Blue Jackets Head Coach Todd Richards.
"To beat these guys in their barn would be huge,” said winger Cam Atkinson. “Their crowd plays a huge role in how they play and their energy and we just have to be ready from the drop of the puck."
"We know that the Bruins are a really good team, they're one of the best teams in the league. They beat us twice. They're all big boys and they all can play so we have to be ready to go, we have to keep this thing rolling."
The Blue Jackets displayed toughness and determination in their last game against Boston, a 3-2 overtime loss at TD Garden on November 14. Trailing the Bruins 2-1, winger Nick Foligno tied the game late in the second period, eventually forcing overtime after a defensively disciplined third period.
“These elite teams, again it's easy to get up for. We played them hard for 60 minutes and unfortunately it didn’t work out in the overtime period,” said Richards.
The Blue Jackets play a similar style of hard-nosed, gritty hockey as the Bruins. In the previous two matchups between the Columbus and Boston, the teams combined for 131 total hits.
“That's their brand of hockey and it's our brand of hockey too so it should be a hard fought battle tonight," said winger Jack Skille.
"You can learn a lot by watching and playing against the good teams because I think you can try to imitate some of the things that they do,” said Richards.
“Again, they're a simple team that works extremely, extremely hard. They've got big bodies, they'll play tough, they'll play physical. They put pucks to the net and they go to the net and they're just going to try to out-compete you."
The Bruins aren’t the type to take any team lightly, and despite winning both previous games against Columbus, they know that they’re a team whose record doesn’t necessarily reflect their skill.
“They play well. They play a heavy game and they skate well,” said Bruins center Chris Kelly. “So you need to know if you’re going to make mistakes and be careless with the puck, they’re going to capitalize.”
“They work hard,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “I can’t say enough about parity. You look at the standings and you see where teams are but when you see teams on the ice, there isn’t that big of a difference.”