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Canucks make stop in Boston to face slumping Bruins

by Michael Blinn
CANUCKS (34-20-2) at BRUINS (23-22-10)

Last 10 -- Vancouver 7-3-0; Boston 1-6-3

Season series --
This is the only meeting between the teams this season. In their only game last season, the Bruins traveled home from Vancouver with a 1-0 win; Michael Ryder scored the lone goal, while Tim Thomas stopped all 30 shots to take the goaltending duel with Roberto Luongo.

Big story --
Dismal doesn't even begin to describe the Bruins' play since the Winter Classic. With only one win in their last 10, they'll have an opportunity for respite when the Canucks -- in the midst of an NHL-record road trip -- come to town for their fourth straight game away from Vancouver.

Team Scope:

Bruins -- It's rough going in Boston, as evidenced by the team's 0-7-2 skid -- the second longest in team history, including an eight-game winless streak at the TD Garden. They've outshot their opponents 89-51 over their last two games, including a 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in their last outing, in which they jumped out to a 2-0 lead, only to lose in a shootout.

"It's frustrating, to say the least," coach Claude Julien said. "We wound up in a shootout and we shouldn't have gotten there."

Canucks --
The Canucks looked to be geared up for their 14 consecutive road games with a four-game win streak heading into the trip, followed by another win in Toronto. In the two matches since, it's been a different story, as they've struggled to find the back of the net, despite taking 77 combined shots in losses in Montreal (3-2) and Ottawa (3-1). There's plenty of time to figure out the rules of the road, but Vancouver must do so quickly, especially in a packed Western Conference and Northwest Division.

"We've got a lot of players right now who need to find a way to play better on the road," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had just lost a game [in Montreal] that we had played pretty good. We'd been on a roll prior to that. I know this group well; I thought we'd want to get right back into our winning ways. Obviously, we misread the situation a little bit."

Who's hot --
Bruins center David Krejci seems to be regaining his freshman-year form with four points in his last five games and 11 in the last 15. … Luongo, fresh from a rare night off, is 6-1 in his last eight starts for the Canucks, with a .917 save percentage and 2.17 GAA. The line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows has 15 points in its last five games, while Ryan Kesler (1-4-5) and Mason Raymond (2-4-6) have provided some secondary scoring for Vancouver over that same span.

Injury report --
Andrew Ference remains sidelined with a groin injury for the Bruins, while Willie Mitchell (concussion), Kevin Bieksa (severed ankle tendons), and Alexandre Bolduc (shoulder) are on injured reserve for the Canucks.

Stat pack --
The Canucks are third in the league, averaging 3.2 goals per game, while only giving up a fifth-best 2.43. Their power-play is also clicking at a top-5 rate (21.9 percent), helped by Raymond and Kesler's eight man-advantage tallies apiece. The Bruins, second in goals for last season (270), are dead-last with 127 thus far in 2009-10, almost a full goal-per-game drop off.

Puck Drop -- Vancouver's trio of Sedin, Sedin and Burrows is the third-highest scoring trio in the league with 189 (66-123) combined points. Only Washington (211) and San Jose (195) have more dynamic threesomes on the season.

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