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Need to Know: Bruins vs. Coyotes

After a bye week and four-game road trip, Boston plays at home for the first time since Feb. 12

by Chris Weyant @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BostonBruins.com - With an impressive 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon, the Bruins flew back to Boston with six of a possible eight points form their four-game West Coast road trip in tow.

 

After enjoying a day off on Monday, the Bruins will be back in action Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden.

 

Tuesday's matchup will be the second of two contests between the Bruins and Coyotes this season. The Bruins came away with a 2-1 victory in Arizona back on Nov.12.

 

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Here is what you need to know:

After ripping off three straight wins at home, the Bruins (32-24-6, 70 points) entered their bye week from Feb. 13-17 on a high note. 

 

Five days away from the rink had stymied most teams this season, but the Bruins reversed the trend, and hurled themselves back into third place in the Atlantic Division.

 

Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has won six of his first seven games behind the bench for the B's. Much of that success can be attributed to the team asserting itself early against opponents.

 

The Bruins were able to score the first goal in all four games on their road trip. They have scored a first period goal in eight consecutive games, and in six of those games, they struck first. 

 

What has led to the strong starts?

 

"Focus in the locker room, making sure we're ready to play," said Kevan Miller, attributing his team's quick strike mentality to readiness out of the gate.

 

"Something we've been focusing on all year - you can't always have the best starts, but we've been pretty fortunate lately and guys are ready to play, so we want to continue that."

 

With just 20 games left in the season and five of their next six on home ice, early starts will be a crucial component of the Bruins' playoff aspirations.

 

"It's like playoff hockey, every game's a must-win and for us," said Frank Vatrano. "We're right on the cusp of the playoffs, so obviously you pay attention to what's going on around the league."

 

"But at the end of day, we need to worry about what we're doing. We've got to win games and can't let any games slip away from us."

 

Tuesday's game against Arizona will mark the Bruins' final contest in what has been a light month of February. The schedule becomes compact again in March, with 14 games in 31 days.

 

With the Atlantic Division as close as it is, every point will matter.

 

Opposing View: Arizona Coyotes

 

The Coyotes (22-32-7, 51 points) haven't been able to put together an ideal season - they currently sit in last place in the Pacific Division. Things have been looking up as of late for the Coyotes, however, who have earned 13 of a possible 24 points thus far during the month of February.

 

Tuesday's game will mark their second without leading goal-scorer Martin Hanzal, who was traded to Minnesota on Sunday. Hanzal's 16 goals led the Coyotes.

 

Though they will be short a goal scorer, the Coyotes can still be a dangerous team as the Bruins saw during a tight 2-1 victory in Arizona back on Nov. 12.

 

Radim Vrbata leads Arizona with 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) through 61 games. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Coyotes top blueliner, has tallied 33 points 10 goals and 23 assists), good for second on the team behind Vrbata.

 

After backup goaltender Louis Domingue secured a 3-2 victory over Buffalo on Sunday, starter Mike Smith figures to get the nod against Boston on Tuesday. Smith is 16-17-6 on the season with a 2.92 goals-against average and a save percentage of .915.

 

Arizona ranks 27th in the NHL in goals for (2.32 goals per game) and 28th in the NHL in goals allowed (3.20 goals per game). 

 

Wait, There's More

 

  • David Pastrnak's goal against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday marked his 51st career goal, the most all-time among Bruins players before reaching the age of 21. Ray Bourque is just behind him on the list with 50. Pastrnak turns 21 on May 25. 
     
  • Patrice Bergeron has heated up as of late, logging 17 points (six goals and 11 assists) in his last 12 games. But really, he's been putting up consistent points for a while now, with 28 points in his last 25 games, after putting up just 10 points in his first 34 games. 
     
  • Seven of Frank Vatrano's 10 goals this season have either tied the game or given the Bruins the lead (his tally on Sunday in Dallas gave them an important 3-2 lead en route to the 6-3 win).
     
  • Tuesday will mark the 74th career meeting between the Bruins and the Coyotes. The Bruins hold a 46-20-7-1 record against Arizona, outscoring them 279-218.

Video: Bruins close out successful trip with win over Stars

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