Bruins-Thrashers: Boston Looks to Bounce Back Against Atlanta
After 3-1 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday night, the Boston Bruins look to regain focus in the first game of a home-and-home against the Thrashers at the Philips Arena, downtown Atlanta.
The Bruins still maintain the best record in the Eastern Conference at 19-5-.
The Atlanta Thrashers enter the game with a 9-14-4 record, second-worst in the Eastern Conference. The Thrashers fought the Rangers hard in their most recent game, but lost 19 seconds into overtime.
The Thrashers have given up 96 goals in only 27 games, which makes them the worst team in hockey in that category. On the other hand, the Bruins are the NHL's best team in goals-against average per game, at only 2.07. This primarily thanks to outstanding play of Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas.
Kari Lehtonen, Johan Hedberg, and Ondrej Pavelec are unable to find consistency in goal for the Thrashers. The lack of strong goaltending is the main reason the Thrashers have lost nine of their last 11 games.
Vyacheslav Kozlov is cashing his scoring chances into goals with the second-best shooting percentage in the NHL. If he's not making the pass to Kovalchuk on the power play, he's firing with tremendous accuracy. Kozlov leads the Thrashers in goals with 12.
Phil Kessel got an assist on the Bruins' only goal on Wednesday, extending his point-scoring streak to 13 games. Kessel has 17 goals and is third place for the league lead in goals.
Marc Savard leads the Bruins in points with 32, and ranks fifth in the Eastern Conference in scoring. The Bruins' first line with both Savard and Kessel is extremely explosive—and if let alone, will get behind opposing defensemen with relative ease.
The Bruins don't get many power-play opportunities, but when they get the chance, they will attempt numerous shots, especially from the point.
The Thrashers have not been a great power-play team at home. But along those same lines, the Bruins struggle on the power play on the road.
The Bruins' injury list include: Aaron Ward, Andrew Ference, and Marco Sturm.
Th Thrashers' injury report: Kari Lehtonen, Erik Christensen, Mathieu Schneider.
Johan Hedberg and Manny Fernandez are both coming off strong games that ended up in a loss. Look for both these goalies to continue to prove that they can handle the role of being the number-one goalie.
The Bruins will attack Hedberg right from the drop of the puck, and try to drive a lot of rubber at the goal. Hedberg will need to stand on his head like Brent Johnson did for the Capitals if the Thrashers are going to win.
The Bruins will show up anxious to get back on the winning side. As Bruins broadcaster and player analyst Andy Brickley pointed out, "the sport of hockey is sometimes humbling."
The Bruins realize that even though they played extremely well and deserved to win, they must play harder to achieve that goal.
Bruins - Kessel, Chara
Thrashers - Kozlov, Kovalchuk
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