The Vancouver Canucks rekindle an old rivalry tonight when they host the Boston Bruins for the first and only time this season at Rogers Arena.
The events that transpired in June 2011 may be distant memory but it's safe to say there should still be some residual ill will that will give this game some special meaning. That being said, the Canucks have bigger issues than settling old scores tonight like trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January. On Wednesday, Vancouver managed to snatch victory from the jaws of victory, paradoxically, after blowing a two-goal lead late in regulation only to score in overtime in a 5-4 win over Chicago.
Tonight's game will certainly have some extra meaning for a couple of Canucks – one on the ice and another in the front office. Ryan Miller, assuming he gets back between the pipes tonight, will dress in his 600th career NHL game. Meanwhile, this game marks the first time that the Canucks will face Boston since former Bruins assistant GM, Jim Benning, joined the Canucks as general manager. Vancouver, which begins this Friday the 13th sitting in a tie for third place in the Pacific Division, did not practice yesterday but could welcome a new body to their lineup after picking up forward Brandon McMillan off waivers from Arizona yesterday.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Watch from inside Rogers Arena. Tickets for tonight's game are available here.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
A strong January that saw the Bruins go 8-1-3 helped push them back into a playoff position but a 1-3-0 start to February now has them back to just barely clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It wasn't long ago when the Bruins were revered for their offensive prowess – they were the highest scoring team in the East last season and finished third overall in the league – but this season they're in the bottom half of the league in goals for. They've only managed to score more than three goals on one occasion in their last 10 outings.
One big reason the Bruins have managed to stay competitive despite their scoring woes, not to mention long-term injuries to the likes of Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, has been thanks to netminder Tuukka Rask, who is enjoying another solid campaign despite some of his numbers dipping compared to previous seasons. Rask, who is expected to start tonight, has not allowed more than three goals in a start since December 4. This is the start of a season-high five-game road trip for the Bruins. They're 4-1-1 in their last four games away from home and are probably looking forward to getting back on the road losing their last two games in a row both at home including dropping a 5-3 decision to the Stars in their most recent outing on Tuesday.
Keys to the Game
Have that attack mentality. The Canucks proved in Chicago that they do have the offensive weapons to challenge even the top teams. They need to keep up that approach where they keep looking for the next goal. With 13 combined goals in their last three games, this is as hot as the Canucks have been all season offensively. They need to take advantage while they can.
Respond in kind. You know the Bruins are going to try and find a way to rough things up and get in the face of Vancouver's top players in this game. The Canucks have to make sure they stand up to Boston's tactics without crossing the line. This will be a big game for the likes of Kassian, Dorsett and Sbisa in that regard.
Pressure Miller. Ryan Miller's confidence may be a bit shaky coming off a disappointing last start. If the Bruins can get to him early on, it could get him to starting thinking 'here we go again.' Vancouver has surrendered the opening goal in eight of their last nine games and the last thing the Bruins will want is to let the Canucks to buck that trend on this freaky Friday.
By the Numbers
All-time win percentage for the Canucks on a Friday the 13th including playoffs (5-9).
Shorthanded goals allowed by the Bruins in their last game. Before that, they were the only team without a SHG allowed.
Meeting between the Canucks and Bruins since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. VAN has won two of three since.
Different goal scorers for the Canucks in last year's season series against the Bruins.
Game point streak for Radim Vrbata (2-6-8) entering play tonight, tied for a career-high set back in 2012.
Time in franchise history the Canucks are playing a home game on a Friday the 13th including playoffs (5-6 record all-time).