|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
Take an afternoon nap today B’s fans, as the Bruins (34-19-7) travel west to Vancouver to take on the league’s best team, the Canucks (39-14-9) at a late night 10pm start this evening.
The B’s will look to remain perfect on their current six-game road trip, having won in all three of their first stops along the season-long trip. Boston has extended their division lead to four points over second place Montreal, and sit just four points back of Tampa Bay for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins will have a tough task ahead of them tonight, facing off with the mighty Canucks on their home ice. Vancouver does everything well, leading the league in points, one more than Philadelphia for the best record in the NHL. Their 3.23 goals per game, 2.29 goals against per game, and 25.1% power play percentage all rank first among the NHL’s 30 teams this season.
Plenty to get to, to get you ready for tonight’s tilt between division leaders, so let’s get right to the pre-game notes…
- This is the first and only meeting between these two teams this season. Last year, Vancouver came to TD Garden and escaped with a 3-2 shootout win, with Roberto Luongo besting Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
- Boston is 7-2-1 in their last 10 road games, while the Canucks are also 7-2-1 in their last 10 at home.
- With the league’s trade deadline just about 48 hours away now on Monday afternoon, speculation still swirls as to whether GM Peter Chiarelli is done dealing. The Bruins have already brought in defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and forwards Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, but they do have a little more room under the cap if they found another deal they liked. As for Vancouver, they have stood pat so far, not having made any deals at all this month.
- Last night, Milan Lucic took center stage, as his former juniors team, the Vancouver Giants, inducted the Bruins winger into their Ring of Honour. Lucic, who grew up in Vancouver, dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Giants took on the Chilliwack Bruins, ironically enough. Lucic will have about 20 friends and family members attending tonight’s game against the Canucks.
- Vancouver of course hosted last year’s winter Olympic games, highlighted by that epic U.S. vs. Canada gold medal hockey game, one that saw Patrice Bergeron’s Canadian team top Tim Thomas’s U.S. team 3-2 in an overtime thriller. Beyond Bergeron and Thomas, four other current Bruins participated in the Olympic tournament in Vancouver a year ago… Tomas Kaberle, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, and Dennis Seidenberg.
- When we talk about the Canucks, it all has to start with the talented Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik. Both currently rank at or near [the top of] several statistical categories, and both currently are riding four-game points streaks.
- Daniel leads the team and the league in points, with 79 (32G, 47A). Those 79 points lead Tampa’s Steven Stamkos by just one for the league’s best. His 32 goals are tied for third in the NHL with Sidney Crosby and Chicago’s Patrick Sharp. Henrik (15G, 59A) is third in the NHL with his 74 points and leads the league with his 59 assists, nine ahead of Tampa’s Martin St. Louis. Ryan Kesler (33G, 24A), also a top All Star forward in the NHL, ranks second in goals across the league, eight behind Stamkos for the NHL lead.
- In goal, the Canucks feature Roberto Luongo (28-11-7, 2.27GAA) and former B.C. Eagle Cory Schneider (11-3-2, 2.27GAA).
- Another former B.C. Eagle, and former Boston Bruin, will look familiar to local hockey fans tonight, as Vancouver defenseman Andrew Alberts faces his former team. Alberts, who spent four seasons at Boston College, then spent parts of three seasons with the Bruins, came to the Canucks during last season’s trade deadline day. He has appeared in 42 games for Vancouver this season, scoring a goal and six assists so far.