Eric Roberts The Hockey Writers
Preview: Bruins Finish California Trip Against Kings
The Los Angeles Kings will try to win consecutive games for the first time since they opened the month of February with wins against Colorado and Philadelphia when they host the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Since the Kings’ win against the Flyers on Feb. 4, they have gone 2-5-0 and been outscored 23-13 in those games. But Los Angeles enters Thursday night’s contest on the heels of a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche and will have a chance to win back-to-back games for just the second time this month.
Standing in the way are the Bruins, who will be playing a second game in as many nights when they skate out onto Staples Center’s ice. Boston was on the wrong side of 5-3 score in Anaheim on Wednesday night. Boston had a one-goal lead two different times in in the game’s first two periods, but Anaheim fought back both times before eventually scoring four of the games final five goals to pull away.
Boston’s game against the Kings will be the fourth game of their current five-game road trip — one that ends in Dallas on Sunday night.
This will be the second and final meeting between the Kings and Bruins. The two teams met once this season back in December when Jimmy Hayes scored the game’s lone goal and Tukka Rask pitched an 18-save shutout in Boston.
Boston Bruins @ Los Angeles Kings
Staples Center – 7:30 PM PST Saturday, Feb. 23, 2017
Broadcast Channels: FS-W, NESN
2016-17 Season Series:
Dec 18, 2016 – Bruins 1 – Kings 0
Los Angeles Kings – 29-26-4 – 62 Points
Home Record: 15-10-1
Hot Players: Tanner Pearson
Key Injuries: Jonathan Quick
Dwight King– Anze Kopitar – Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown – Jeff Carter – Tanner Pearson
Kyle Clifford – Nic Dowd – Adrian Kempe
Marian Gaborik – Trevor Lewis – Nick Shore
Derek Forbort– Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez – Brayden McNabb
Kevin Gravel – Jake Muzzin
Boston Bruins – 30-24-6 – 66 Points
Away Record: 15-11-6
Hot Players: David Backes, Frank Vatrano
Key Injuries: N/A
David Backes – Patrice Bergeron – Brad Marchand
Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes – Ryan Spooner – Frank Vatrano
Matt Beleskey – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash
Brandon Carlo – Zdeno Chara
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller – Kevan Miller
Anton Khudobin (Expected)
1) The cards might be stacked against the Bruins on Thursday night. In recent history, Boston has struggled when playing on California soil. Their loss to Anaheim was their ninth loss in their last 11 games when in California. On top of their Golden State troubles, this game will conclude Boston’s 11th set of back-to-back games — a scenario they have gone 2-6-2 in so far this season.
2) Both the Bruins and the Kings go into Thursday night’s game on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. Boston is tied for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot with 66 points, but the two teams they are tied with have a game in hand. Los Angeles is sitting two points out of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot behind their Pacific Division rival, Calgary. It doesn’t take much more than that to explain how big these two points are for both teams.
3) Tanner Pearson is the hottest player on Los Angeles’ roster going into Thursday night’s game. The winger has accounted for four goals and eight points over his last five games. The lone game where Pearson was held off the score sheet was the Kings’ 1-0 shutout loss to Anaheim. For Boston, Frank Vatrano has three goals and six points in his last four games. In those games, the 22-year-old was a plus-five and unloaded 15 shots on net.
4) Peter Budaj has allowed only two goals against in the Kings’ last two games. His play has to be a relief to most as the 34-year-old had given up 19 goals in the five games prior. Budaj does still boast respectable numbers with a 2.12 goals against average and a .917 save percentage on the season.
5) With the Kings’ win over the Avalanche on Tuesday night, Darryl Sutter moved into a tie with Andy Murray for the most wins as a head coach in franchise history. A win for Los Angeles would give Sutter win No. 216 and a spot on top of the all-time list.
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