Holding a three game losing streak, things don’t get easier for Boston as they begin their California road trip. The Bruins kick off their trip tonight against the Anaheim Ducks, who they have yet to play this season. Following Wednesday’s visit to Anaheim, the Bruins rematch with Los Angeles on Thursday, and San Jose Saturday. The Bruins finds themselves at a crucial point of the season, slipping away from the leaders of the league.
BRUINS VS DUCKS
Perhaps the easiest test of the trip for Boston, Anaheim currently sits in sixth place of the Pacific Division, ahead of only Edmonton and Arizona. Like the Bruins, the Ducks have had their share of struggles lately, dropping five of their last six. Along with that, Ducks’ stars Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler have missed some time due to injury, forcing exploration into their depth charts. Boston knows this story too well. They will play without Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, just to name a few. This opening match of Boston’s California trip is by far the most crucial. If the B’s can break their losing streak with a big win, it can perhaps translate into momentum against one of the best teams in the league. If Boston fails to snap their losing streak, struggles will only plunge deeper for a deflated Bruins squad.
BRUINS VS KINGS
Just less than three weeks ago, Boston hosted Los Angeles in what turned out to be an overtime heartbreaker. Boston snagged the early lead during the first period before Tyler Taffoli ripped the equalizer for Los Angeles moments later. The second and third period were defensive jousts, eventually leading to an overtime match up at the Garden. About five minutes into overtime, Taffoli recorded his second point of the game and the game-winner for the Kings. Despite the loss, goalie Tuukka Rask had one of his best outings of the season, logging 28 saves on 30 shots. But there’s good news for Boston. Los Angeles is currently on a three game losing streak, all of which came at home. The time for Boston to play the number two team in the Western Conference is right now. The potential for the Bruins to take a huge leap following their trip to California is strong, especially if they can start off 2-0.
BRUINS VS SHARKS
A rematch with the San Jose Sharks rounds out the west coast trip. In a game where Danton Heinen reigned supreme, the Bruins edged out the Sharks with a 2-1 victory. The goaltending was sharp on both sides of the rink. However, Anton Khudobin was between the pipes for Boston. It will be interesting to see if Rask is sidelined for this matchup, given Khudobin’s exposure previously to the Sharks offense. If Rask does well early in the road trip, it’s likely he will get the nod. However, I would not be surprised to see Khudobin in net for this game, regardless of Rask’s performance. As with the other two games of this California trip, Boston must capitalize on opportunities every chance they get. Missing some key players will add to the struggles we’ve seen this year. But now is the time they truly need to be overcome.
This west-coast road trip will set the course for the Bruins’ end to November. The schedule upon their return home is hard enough in itself. If Boston takes down Anaheim tonight, maybe the ball will finally start (and continue) rolling. If they drop one to the Ducks, things will only get tougher, facing Los Angeles at home tomorrow night.