The Islanders come to town for the second time in three weeks. December 20th was their last visit to TD Garden. The visitors started stong five minutes in, scoring their first goal of the first period. Two and a half minutes later the Islanders got their second of the first period to make it 2-0. The Islanders 2nd period goal hung a 3-0 lead on the hometown team. The Bruins clawed back to within one before falling short 4-2 after pulling the goalie for the extra attacker.

Islanders prevail over Bruins 4-2, Dec 20th

NEW YEAR, NEW TEAM FOR ISLANDERS MATINEE GAME

This is a different Bruins team that the Islanders will face Monday afternoon. They are trending upwards, sitting in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division coming in strong posting a 23-18-5 record and 51pts. Their last 10 games; 5-5 during the last road trip where Tukka Rask kept his team in a position to win each start. The difference in the losses was running into hot goaltender at the other end of the ice. League wise, Rask is 4th in Goals Against (1.98), tied for 7th in Save percentage (.925), tied for 2nd in shutouts (5) and tied for 2nd in wins(22). Same win total as Devan Dubnyk, which is telling in itself. The way Rask is playing at this point in the season is making a strong argument for Vezina candidacy. If he continues this pace he’ll make a strong argument.

Rask has been outstanding this season

Rask gave Boston a scare last Thursday night when he took a puck in the throat area from Roman Josi of the Predators. All of New England exhaled when hearing he was a full participant in practice last Friday.

In front of him, the Bruins are creating scoring chances at a high rate by forcing both neutral and offensive zone turnovers. Penetrating, attacking and tilting the ice for stretches with dominance while trying to eliminate defensive zone breakdowns. The Bruins Penalty Kill ranks 1st in the NHL.  The Power Play stands at 22nd while playing their most entertaining hockey of the season. The Bruins continue to get astonishing play out of Brad Marchand. His relentless agility, speed and skill considered by some as the best in the league. Along with his linemates, Patrice Bergeron and a healthy David Pasternak play championship-worthy hockey.

On a lesser note, Kevan Miller is out with a concussion.  This leaves the Bruins defense already dealing with an LBI injury to Colin Miller (day to day) to piece together their blueline as they limp along towards the NHL trade deadline. Help Wanted, by health of existing players or acquiring a defenseman at the NHL trade deadline.  The Bruins need that and another sniper to take this team as far as we know they can this season. We’re not greedy, just realists.

The Islanders are in the midst of a five- game road trip where they are also 5-5 but they are last in the Metropolitan Division with a 16-17-8 record and 40 pts. Their record or placing in standings should not discount the fact they still have Jonathan Tavares who’s playing at the top of his game. Anders Lee who is a star in this league, Josh Baily, Brock Nelson, Nick Leddy, Ryan Strome and the ever pesky Cal Clutterbuck. The latter came into your house Christmas week not in the giving mood. The Bruins cannot come out flat or complacent if so this will be a repeat of the last matchup.

Projected Bruins Lineup;

Forwards:

  • Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
  • Frank Vatrano – David Krejci – David Backes
  • Tim Schaller – Ryan Spooner – Riley Nash
  • Austin Czarnik – Dominic Moore – Anton Blidh

Defensemen:

  • Zdeno Chara–Brandon Carlo
  • Torey Krug–Adam McQuaid
  • John-Michael Liles – Joseph Morrow

Goalie: Rask

Projected Islanders Lineup;

Forwards:

  • Anders Lee – Jonathan Tavares – Josh Bailey
  • Andrew Ladd – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome
  • Alan Quine – Anthony Beauvillier – Jason Chimera
  • Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck

Defensemen:

  • Nick Leddy – Adam Pelech
  • Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuck
  • Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg

Goalie: Greiss

Where: TD Garden Boston

Watch: NESN

Listen: 98.5 FM Boston

Online: https://www.nhl.com/bruins

Summary of the meeting 3 weeks ago