NHL Preview 26-29/10

The Boston Bruins face a unique three-day period as they gear up to face two of their fiercest rivals in the NHL. Firstly, they welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to TD Garden, before renewing hostilities with the Montreal Canadiens.

Bruins to clip Flyers wings

Operating in different divisions, the rivalry between the ‘Big Bad Bruins’ and ‘Broad Street Bullies’ all stems back to play-off clashes in the 1970s. Both these teams will be hoping they come together in the post-season again this term but have made sluggish starts, Boston snapping a three-game losing streak with a victory over Ottawa last time out.

Once again, it was the top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron that did the damage, combing for eight points, while Pastrnak became the sixth player in franchise history to hit 10 goals in the month of October.

Boston’s 5-2-2 record has them in a wildcard spot, a position Philly would kill for at this point having slipped to 4-5 with a 4-1 loss to Colorado on Monday.

Patience appears to be growing thin amongst the Flyers faithful already after an off-season of great promise. Injuries haven’t helped the cause, Michael Raffl the latest to go on the shelf after being ruled out for up to six weeks.

The Bruins got the better of the Flyers in three of their two meetings last season and should improve upon that record, with home team the 1.58 favourites. Over 5.5 total goals at 1.68 also appeals, with that selection landing in 77.8 per cent of Flyers games this season.

Looking ahead, Sunday’s game with bitter rivals Montreal should be the tougher encounter for Boston, with the Canadiens sitting on place above the Bruins in the Atlantic.

Trigger-happy Canes welcome the Sharks

Carolina continues to set the pace in the Metropolitan division, moving to 5-3-1 on the season when beating Detroit on Tuesday. That snapped a three-game losing streak, the Hurricanes having found Winnipeg, Tampa Bay and Colorado too hot to handle previously.

However, had their shooting been better on those nights, the picture could look slightly different. The Canes continue to average over 42 shots per game but are struggling to convert their chances. The other issue for Carolina continues to be special teams, lighting the lamp four times in 33 power play opportunities thus far.

Saturday’s opponents San Jose are second in the average shots per games standings but have netted a couple more goals, enough to leave them second in the Pacific Division.

The Sharks impressed with a third-period comeback to down Nashville last time out and have a good recent record against Carolina, winning the last three. In the absence of Joe Thornton, Logan Courture has stepped up to the plate and has registered points in the last four.

In previous clashes with Stanley Cup contenders, Carolina have come up short and that looks likely to be the case again here.