Following a win over one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Canucks travel to Boston to face off against the number one team in the conference.
The Vancouver Canucks built on their strong record of late, picking up a win on Tuesday night bringing their point streak to 12 games with a 10-0-2 record.
Thursday’s game will be the first of two matchups between the Bruins and Canucks this month. The teams will battle again on February 24th at Rogers Arena. With the Canucks at 73 points and the Bruins at 71, Thursday’s game will be a matchup between the top two teams in the NHL standings.
The Bruins hold a 16-5-3 record on home ice this season and are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. The Bruins have not lost back-to-back games in regulation on home ice this season and are amid their longest homestand of the season. Thursday’s game will be game two of seven consecutive home games for the Bruins.
On the road, the Canucks hold the league’s second-best record at 16-7-3. They are in game two of a five-game road trip and this matchup against the Bruins is certainly one that will garner attention as both teams have had a great first 50 games of their seasons.
We will see two of the league’s best goaltender duos matchup on Thursday. The Bruins have Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark to choose from while the Canucks have Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith to battle against the Bruins. Swayman and Demko are both in the conversation for the Vezina trophy this season. Each of Swayman and Demko have at least a .920% save percentage while Demko has picked up five shutouts to Swayman’s three.
The Bruins have almost used their goaltenders equally this season. Swayman leads the way with 27 starts but Ullmark is just behind him with 23 of his own. As for the Canucks, Demko has made 36 starts and DeSmith has 14.
Offensively, the Bruins are led by All-Star forward David Pastrnak. The 27-year-old right-winger sits third in the league with 73 points and is third in goals with 33. Much of his production comes with the man-advantage. Pastrnak has 11 power play goals this season, along with 18 power play assists. His 29 power play points are tied with J.T. Miller for fourth in the league.
The Bruins’ power play is fifth in the league and clicking at 26% this season. The Canucks will need to be disciplined because the Bruins have had eight games this season where they have scored multiple power play goals.
Special teams will once again be important as the Bruins have the 10th-ranked penalty kill, sitting at 82.1% on the year. Charlie Coyle and Brad Marchand are the leading forwards for the penalty kill while Brandon Carlo and Hampus Lindholm are the top minute-eaters on the backend.
Speaking of the backend, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk play on the top pairing. McAvoy picks up minutes on the power play and leads the Bruins in average ice time per game with 24:31 per night.
Quick Hits on the Competition:
- Trent Frederic leads the Bruins in hits with 87 through 50 games.
- The Bruins like to mix up their forward lines throughout games and you’ll see Pastrnak get some time with Marchand, as well as Morgan Geekie. Geekie is second on the Bruins in five-on-five ice time per game this season, though he slots in on the third line from the look of the Bruins’ line rushes.
- Pastrnak is certainly the star to watch from the Bruins, he averages over five shots on net per game.
- The Bruins are currently riding a 7-2-0 streak over their last nine games and have outscored their opponents 37-21 over that stretch. Their weakness over the winning run of late has been their penalty kill. They have allowed 10 power play goals against in their last nine games.
The Canucks were happy with the debut of their newest acquisition, Elias Lindholm. In his Canucks debut, Lindholm played 21:01, was on both special teams' units, and picked up a pair of power play goals on tip-ins from Quinn Hughes’ shots.
Five-on-five dominance has been a key piece of the Canucks’ 12 consecutive games without a regulation loss. Each of J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson have been on the ice for 12 or more goals while simultaneously being on the ice for six or fewer goals against at five-on-five. This gives each of them a 70% or higher control of the goal share at five-on-five over their last dozen games.
The trio of Conor Garland, Dakota Joshua, and Teddy Blueger continue to play well in their bottom-six role. The line is now up over 60% in the control of expected goals this season. As a trio, the line has been on the ice for 17 goals scored and only nine goals against in their 318 minutes together.
And to round out the forward talk, here’s a fun fact about Pius Suter: Suter has played over 50 minutes of ice time with 14 players on the Canucks’ roster and he holds a positive control of the goal share with every single one of those 14 players.
For the season, Suter has been on the ice for 21 goals scored and only eight against at five-on-five. That gives him a 72.4% control of the goal share and that puts him number one in the NHL of players who have played over 400 minutes of five-on-five play this season.
Quinn Hughes picked up his 16th multi-point game on Tuesday night. His two points helped extend his lead on scoring from a defenceman. Hughes is now at 64 points through 50 games this season – four points up on Cale Makar at 60 points, and 12 points up on Noah Dobson, who sits at 52 points on the year.
Canucks’ Top Performers over the Last Five:
Quinn Hughes: 1g-10a-11p
Brock Boeser: 3g-5a-8p
J.T. Miller: 2g-5a-7p
Pius Suter: 4g-2a-6p
Elias Pettersson: 3g-3a-6p
Thursday’s game is a 4:00 pm PT start, and you can watch the game on Sportsnet or give your ears a treat and listen to Brendan Batchelor on the radio broadcast with Sportsnet 650.