Monday, November 2, 2009

Examiner Previews Wings/B's

Found this a while ago.  I wasn't going to analyze it because I don't want to over-do the whole preview thing, but since news is slow and it's not game day, I figured...what the hell?  I'll just do Boston's preview as a pre-curser to tomorrow's posts, since many of us probably know very little about the team up to this point...

The last time these two teams met was in the NHL's battle for No.1, on Nov. 29, 2008. The Bruins won that contest on the last scheduled game in the month of Nov., 4-1. In my mind, and the thoughts of many, that game solidified the Bruins as true contenders for Lord Stanley's Cup of 2008-09. The Bruins won their last two games in November, then went on to take 13 of their next 14 games after the defeating the reigning Stanley Cup Champs.

Do you any of you remember this game? I do. It was disgusting. I remember this game being the moment when I realized that we were not going to win the President’s Trophy that year. Detroit looked uninterested, bored, and extremely beatable. Of course, Detroit turned their season around eventually and played strong in the play-offs. Boston went on to finish with the second best record in the NHL before being ousted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the play-offs. Let’s move on…

Away Team: Boston Bruins (6-6-1, 4th in Northeast - 9th in Eastern Conference)

13 points gets you 9th place in the Leastern Conference right now, eh? Holy smokes.

Who's hot: The Bruins' goaltending of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. In the last six games, the duo have been the backbone to the B's 3-2-1 record by saving 13 of 172 shots on goal. That translates into a .924 save-percentage and under 2.20 goals-against average for the tandem. Boston has allowed 30-or-more shots on goal against in four of their last six games.

Ahem, I believe they missed a word in that first run-on sentence. Saving 13 of 172 shots on goal would be a save percentage of 7.56%. And a 3-2-1 record? You just told me that they were 6-6-1…*sigh. Someone needed to proof read this preview before hitting the “submit” button.

Who's not: The broken record continues: The power play. Another 0-5 performance on Sunday afternoon against the New York Rangers, the Bruins are 29th in the NHL with a whopping six power play goals in 49 attempts this year (12.2%)—just 0.04% away from the bottom-dwelling Florida Panthers. To put it in perspective on just how abysmal the Bruins are with the man-advantage: half of their power play goals came in the second game of the season—the 7-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Boston is now just 2-for-36 in their last 11 games.

Oh great, another slump snapping performance by the Red Wings penalty killing may be on the horizon. You can almost hear Claude Julien’s “it was nice to finally get the powerplay going” speech in the post-game presser. Detroit allowed 5 power play goals against in just 15 attempts over the course of the Western road trip. We miss McLellan, we miss him a lot.

What to watch for: The penalty kill. The Bruins have successfully killed 19 of their last 21 times short-handed—13 in a row—and are now 21st in the NHL with 10-for-46 (78.8%) on the year. Up 9.1% from their recent 27th-place penalty-kill in the last six contests.

Speaking of terrible penalty killing…re-read that last segment to make you feel a little better.

Who to watch for: Marco Sturm, he hasn't been good at all as of late. In fact, he has yet to find the back of the net in his last nine games. No. 16 was the first player mentioned when it came to filling the void of No. 81's (still not saying his name in Toronto) 36-goals from last season, and was supposed to play an integral role on the B's first power play unit. Well, as we saw in Saturday's loss to the Rangers, head coach Claude Julien demoted Sturm from the first power play unit, to the riding-the-pine with the man-advantage. Hopefully the recent events is enough to kick-start the 31-year-old's gear into place.

Shouldn’t this have been filed under the “Who’s not” category?

Unsung Hero: Vladimir Sobotka needs to be playing more than just 10:29 per game. Through six games in Black and Gold, the feisty 22-year-old has three points (all in his last four games) and an astounding 22 hits. Those 22 hits are third best on the B's squad (Chara with 33 and Steve Begin with 27 in all 13 games) while not recording a hit in Saturday's game versus Edmonton. Go figure. The third line of Sobotka, Wheeler, and Paille are deserving of a few extra shifts on the ice. And Sobotka, especially, should be rewarded with some actual playing-time on the power play.

Sounds like Boston’s answer to Darren Helm. #43 would wreck you Sobotka. Where have I seen that last name before…hmmm. That’s definitely “Pointless Preview” material.

So there's a little more about what we're up against tomorrow night...

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