After Thursday night’s 3-2 loss to the Montréal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins (23-22-10, 13-12-5 at home) have now lost nine straight games as they welcome the Vancouver Canucks (34-20-2, 11-13-1 on the road), Canada’s most successful team this season, to the TD Garden at 1 p.m. for a matinee matchup.
Today’s game will be the first and only tilt between the two teams this season. As if fans need to be reminded, Boston hasn’t won a home game since their 2-1-overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day and is yet to win a game at the TD Garden this year. Their offensive futility, highlighted by scoring only three goals on 89 shots in their last two games, has stretched the team’s current losing streak to its longest in franchise history since an 11-game streak of losses between December 3, 1924 and January 5, 1925.
The Canucks, whose popularity amongst television viewers aged 18-34 has grown exponentially since the fall of 2005, are currently in the midst of a 14-game road trip as their home rink prepares to welcome the Winter Olympics this coming Friday. After winning seven straight games to vault themselves into third place in the Western Conference, they dropped their last two games: a 3-2 loss to Montréal and a 3-1 decision to the red-hot Ottawa Senators.
Taking a closer look at the visiting Vancouverites:
- The Canucks offense, whose 181 goals qualify for fourth-best in the league, is led by Henrik Sedin (25-53-78), who trails only Alex Ovechkin by four points in the race for the Art Ross Trophy and has more than double the points of Boston’s leading scorer, Patrice Bergeron (12-21-33). Henrik Sedin is flanked by identical twin brother Daniel Sedin, who is second on the team with 52 points, and Alex Burrows, whose 49 points are good enough for third. Also of note are the trio’s plus/minus ratings: +25, +24, and +27, respectively.
- Despite these impressive numbers, the Canucks’ first line has no goals and only one assist in their last two games. Furthermore, the Canucks haven’t scored an even-strength goal since their 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 30.
- On defense, the Canucks are also one of the league’s best, having allowed only 138 goals, behind only the Chicago Blackhawks (134) and the New Jersey Devils (128).
- In net will be Team Canada’s very own Robert “Bobby Lou” Luongo (29-15-2), who sits in tenth place in the league in both goals against average (2.33) and save percentage (91.9). Luongo was given the night off on Thursday, as backup and familiar face Andrew Raycroft (5-4-0) took the loss.
- Opposing Luongo will be Tuukka Rask, who will enjoy starting in consecutive games for the first time since early December despite Tim Thomas’s success against the Canucks. In his previous two games against Vancouver, Thomas stopped all 70 shots the Canucks peppered him with in the teams’ two previous meetings (a 1-0 win in 2008 and a 2-0 win in 2006). The Canucks haven’t scored on the Bruins since they piled on five on December 4, 2005.
- Besides former Boston netminder Raycroft, Bruins fans will have trouble recognizing any other Canucks since former Boston College standout Cory Schneider was sent down to Vancouver’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, last November.
For those looking for something to smile about, enjoy the fact that the Orland Kurtenblog, Canada’s prognosticating duo of Jason Brough and Mike Halford that prides itself on being right 51% of the time, predicted a Bruins victory today. If that isn’t reassuring enough, enjoy Canucks forward Ryan Kesler’s recent “Dancing With the Stars” tryout, found on the same page.
Tags: Alex Burrows, Andrews Raycroft, Boston Bruins, Cory Schneider, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Ice Breakers, Robert Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Tim Thomas, Vancouver Canucks