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Bruins Face "Even Tougher" Test Against Kings

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

LOS ANGELES - There was much to like about the Bruins' game against the Ducks in Anaheim on Monday night.

They outworked and outbattled the West's top team for most of the night, but mistakes ended up costing them in the 3-2 loss that kicked off their four-game road trip.

The Black and Gold could take some solace in how they played, while knowing that Monday night's matchup won't be any easier against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings.

Despite the Kings having the same amount of points (29) in the standings as the Bruins, they have have been dominant at the STAPLES Center. They are currently tied for the most home points in the NHL (21) and the most wins at home with 10. The Kings' 4-1 loss to Chicago on Saturday was only their third home loss this season.

It helps that Jonathan Quick is 9-1-1 in his club's last 11 home games, with an air-tight 1.34 goals-against average and .954 save percentage, and that they play a heavy game that wears down opponents so much that they've only allowed 11 goals in the third period all season.

"I think we’re in for the same kind of a battle and probably even tougher than we had last night [in Anaheim]," Head Coach Claude Julien said pregame from the STAPLES Center, where the Bruins were hitting the ice for an optional morning skate. "This LA team plays a really methodical, heavy game and we have to cut down on some of the mistakes that we made last night."

"Although we played well, played hard, a couple of mistakes and they ended up in our own net, so we have to really clean that part of our game up."

Besides the result, the Bruins did feel their work ethic was there against the Ducks.

"That's what we talked about. We were pretty happy, satisfied with our game and effort," said Dougie Hamilton. "But just mistakes and they capitalize on those and it makes it tough to come back from."

Offense hasn't been coming easily for the Bruins, who have scored more than two goals just once in their past nine games.

"It will be nice if we can get a couple of bounces, some bad goals - but we're just going to have to keep working for those," said Hamilton.

The Bruins have to keep battling and boxing out in front of both nets, especially with the Kings' strength. Going up against another "wear-them-down" type of team (that has won two Cups in three years) should hopefully bring out the best in Boston.

"They have size, the physicality that they bring to the game, and everything that I think we thrive on here as a team," said Daniel Paille. "So I would expect a similar matchup as [against Anaheim] with the way they play with the physical game."

Boston doesn't have a promising record in the second game of back-to-backs so far this season, at 0-4-0, so this serves up a chance to correct that. A short bus ride from Anaheim to LA, instead of the usual late night plane ride to the next city, and the ability to still get in a good skate this morning, should help the cause.

"I don't think we have to think about it as a second part of a back-to-back," said Hamilton. "But these are obviously the Stanley Cup winners and you look at their roster and it's a pretty good team, so we're going to have to play well and try to do similar things like we did [in Anaheim] and keep generating scoring opportunities."

Pastrnak Proving Reliable

David Pastrnak notched his first NHL point on Monday night, assisting on Brad Marchand's opening goal against the Ducks just after a Bruins power play expired.

While his dynamic offensive ability is what attracts attention, he's been fairly reliable for Julien in the defensive zone - reliable enough that he was trusted out on the ice late in the game, instead of being sheltered.

"He’s been good. He hasn’t been a guy that we’ve cringed or worried about in our own end," said Julien. "He’s done the job the right way, and you can tell he’s really focusing on that and it’s not affecting his offensive game either."

"I just think that when he’s out there, he’s making things happen — he’s been creative, he’s used his speed, he really backs the Ds up with his speed — so we could use that right now."

The 18-year-old (and currently the youngest player in the NHL) may start attracting more attention from the opponent.

"He’s an unknown for a lot of people," said Julien. "[As an opposing coach, I] would definitely mention that he’s got speed and can make plays, no doubt about it. So right now, I think he’s embracing the opportunity and he’s making the most of it."

Morrow a "Pleasant Addition"

Defenseman Joe Morrow has some offensive flair to his game, but hasn't yet unleashed that at the NHL level. That's more out of necessity, having to settle into the Bruins' system amidst injuries, focus on the defensive structure, and not stray from that. He can't be taking risks.

After 14 NHL games, and finding the back of the net for his first NHL goal, a more comfortable Morrow is starting to show his offense. On Monday night, he showcased that during a breakaway out of the penalty box when he made a slick move to his backhand before being stopped by Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. He also has a keen ability of getting his shots through.

"I think he moves the puck well - he really snaps that puck really well," said Julien. "They’re solid, hard passes and stuff like that. He got fortunate on that breakaway — I thought he made a good move, and the goaltender made a good pad save on that. He’s a young player that is really, again, developing into a decent player for us."

"There’s still some things he needs to work on, but every player goes through those kinds of things and I can’t say I’m disappointed in him so far because he’s been a real pleasant addition to our banged-up squad."

Miller's Scratch "Coach's Decision"

Julien said on both Saturday and Sunday that defenseman Kevan Miller had been "dinged up" in the Bruins' win over Winnipeg on Friday. The blueliner didn't skate Saturday, rejoined the team Sunday and then was a scratch on Monday night in Anaheim with Zach Trotman slotting into the lineup.

"I would say — I’m going to say it was a coach’s decision based on what you just said," Julien said Tuesday morning in response to a reporter referencing Miller getting 'dinged up.' "Something I can’t really explain to you, but you know, maybe we could have [played him]. Probably prudent what we did."

Given Monday's game, and a fairly strong night from the Bruins, changes up front aren't to be expected. But if Miller is ready to go, he could suit up in place of Trotman.

"Game-time decisions," said Julien, when asked about Tuesday's lineup. "There could be [game-time decisions], yeah."

Projected Lineup vs. Kings 12/2

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Milan Lucic
- Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Reilly Smith
- Chris Kelly - Matt Fraser
Daniel Paille
- Gregory Campbell - Simon Gagne

Dennis Seidenberg - Kevan Miller
Matt Bartkowski
- Dougie Hamilton
Joe Morrow
- Torey Krug

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg*

Scratches: Craig Cunningham, Seth Griffith, Zach Trotman

*Since the Bruins held an optional skate, Tuesday night's goalie will be confirmed at the start of warmups (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT)

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