Bruins-Coyotes: Preview

Mark MarinoSenior Analyst IOctober 17, 2009

BOSTON - MARCH 05:  Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins tries to get around Matthew Lombardi #15 of the Phoenix Coyotes on March 5, 2009 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Coyotes defeated the Bruins 2-1.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Fresh off a 3-0 victory last night in Dallas, the Bruins got back to .500, evening their record now to 3-3-0.


Tim Thomas made 27 saves for his 13th career shutout, and Marc Savard lit the lamp twice, once on the power play, and six shots on goal.


"Everything just seemed to be going in the right direction tonight," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien after the game.


The Bruins, after a dismal 4-of-29 on the PP in the previous five games, went 1-1 with the man-advantage last night and killed the all three penalties (8-of-26 in the prior five contests)


Who's hot:


Marc Savard. No. 91 now has seven points (4-3=7) in the first six games for the Bruins. His four goals leads all Boston skaters thus far, as does his 20 shots on goal. He continues to be the best offensive player on the team, while contributing not only on the power play, but the penalty kill as well.


Who's not:


In last night's game, the Bruins got great production from just about every player. Prior to the game, however, Boston's special teams and goaltending were in question.


The B's went 1-1 on the PP and killed all six minutes in three penalty kills; while Tim Thomas made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season.


If there was one weak spot, though, I'd have to say during the middle of the second period when there was an onslaught of Stars in the Bruins zone.


The Bruins got off to a quick start (despite the Bergeron minor penalty 00:18 into the first) but started to show signs of playing back on their heels.


If the B's can play a full 60 minutes in the way that the Bruins are capable of, this is going to be a very very tough team to beat.

Who to watch for:


Tim Thomas/goaltending : Even with quick back-to-back away games, I'd say Thomas gets the nod again in Phoenix. There was a quiet message sent to the reigning Vezina Trophy winner when Julien went with back-up goaltender, Tuukka Rask, in Boston last week.


Thomas bounced back and pitched a shutout against the Stars and was one of the two best players for Boston last night. In fact, he was the best player while the B's were short-handed last night as well.


What's the saying...'Your PK is only as good as your goaltending?' Or, something like that. Nonetheless, case in point. Look for the momentum to carry over in Arizona.


Johnny Boychuk: With Dennis Wideman out again, No. 55 logged over 17 minutes of ice time again in back-to-back games, with four shots on goal (five total) and two hits (six total).


Milan Lucic: After being "moved down" to the second line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler, Lucic looked like a new man in last night's game.


Although left off the score sheet, Lucic landed five hits and one shot on net. But it was the non-stats that stood out to me. His forechecking was noticably better, and he looked faster last night than I have ever seen.


What to watch for:

Momentum : With a dominating road win last night (their first road game), the Bruins must be riding high as they head to Arizona. I would anticipate another fast start; especially on the offense and between the pipes.

Forechecking: It was noticeably better last night. It caused a few Stars' turnovers last night and a couple of scoring opportunities for the B's. Look for it to be fairly aggressive again tonight on the forecheck.

Penalties: The Bruins need to stay out of the penalty box. Granted they only had three minor penalties last night, and successfully killed them all, they were still short handed more than on the power play. That cannot continue. The Bruins special teams still isn't there yet, regardless of what we saw last night.



Unsung/Under the radar player to watch:


Blake Wheeler: No. 26 has a scoring line of 2-1=3 through the first six games this year with 11 shots on goal, but with the presence of Lucic on his line now makes it even better.


The two definitely had some nice chemistry in last night's victory. The bulked-up Wheeler was definitely using his size to his advantage by laying three hits last night; while Lucic had five.


The two big boys now open up the ice a whole lot more, allowing more room for Krejci to do his thing with the puck and set scoring chances up.


Line combos & D pairings:


Michael Ryder—Marc Savard—Marco Sturm
Milan Lucic—David Krejci—Blake Wheeler
Chuck Kobasew—Patrice Bergeron—Mark Recchi
Shawn Thornton—Steve Begin—Byron Bitz

Zdeno Chara—Derek Morris
Andrew Ference—Mark Stuart
Matt Hunwick—Johnny Boychuk


Injury Report:


Dennis Wideman : upper body injury (shoulder)


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