It’s a game that has been two and a half years in the making as the Boston Bruins return to Rogers Arena for the first time since June 15, 2011.
And it’s a clash of two teams playing terrific hockey. But in many ways they are two different teams than the ones that battled for the Stanley Cup. The Canucks will have 10 players in the line-up tonight that took part in the Final while the Bruins will have eight.
The Canucks (19-10-5) come into action on a six game win streak after last night’s 4-0 victory over Edmonton. The Bruins (22-8-2) have won four in a row and six of their last seven. Neither team has given up more than two goals in a game in December.
Roberto Luongo made 19 saves for his third shutout of the season. The Canucks have posted back to back shutouts and have gone 120:07 without surrendering a goal. They have given up just six goals on their six game win streak.
At 89.9%, the Canucks are killing penalties at a rate better than the NHL’s single-season record set by the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12 (89.6%). The Canucks have killed off all 17 penalties on their current win streak and only the NY Rangers are the only team to score on the power play against the Canucks in their last 11 games.
Last night was the first time this season the Canucks have scored two power play goals in a game. It was also Ryan Kesler’s first two assist game of the season. Jason Garrison had three assists last night and now has 2+11=13 in his past 10 games. Chris Higgins scored last night and has 2+4=6 on a four game point streak. Mike Santorelli is celebrating his 28th birthday today. David Booth is playing in his 400th NHL game tonight.
In their past 23 games, the Canucks have allowed more than three goals on just four occasions (5 vs LAK & NYR and 3 vs LAK & ANA).
The Bruins roll into town after a 4-2 victory in Edmonton on Thursday. Jarome Iginla scored twice in that game. With that win, Boston is now 10-2-1 in its past 13 games. As he did in the 2011 playoffs, David Krejci leads the Bruins in scoring with 6+21=27 while Milan Lucic (11) is their only double-digit goal scorer so far this season.
Tuukka Rask is among the NHL leaders in wins (16), goals against (1.87) and save percentage (93.5%). He has held opponents to one goal or none in 12 of his 25 appearances this season.
The Bruins have had the fewest power play opportunities in NHL this season. Their 86 chances with the man-advantage is 50 fewer than league-leading San Jose in the same number of games.
The Bruins are 4-0 against Pacific Division opponents this season and 4-1-2 against the West.
Boston has been to overtime on six occasions this season – all on home ice.
The Bruins will be without Shawn Thornton (15-game suspension), Loui Eriksson (concussion), Chris Kelly (broken leg), Daniel Paille (UBI), Dougie Hamilton (LBI).