Game #55: Vancouver Canucks (27-21-9) vs. Boston Bruins (35-16-3)
Location: TD Garden
Time: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Having only hooked up twice since the Bruins hoisted the Cup on Vancouver ice back in 2011, one would think this rivalry has lost some of it’s luster. That’s not the case at all. Hatred and distaste run deep between the two sides and Boston’s Brad Marchand made that apparent in their last meeting.
Marchand taunted the Canucks bench in a loss back in December, gesturing toward his ring finger as he skated by the Vancouver bench. Clearly emotions still run high in this rivalry. The Bruins will be looking to avenge the 6-2 beatdown they suffered earlier this season while the Canucks will be looking to put Marchand in his place.
In the Canucks 6-2 December victory over the Bruins at Rogers Arena, Roberto Luongo propeled his team, recording 39 saves. He’ll look to duplicate such a performance with the hopes of sweeping the season series from the Bruins in this second and final game between the teams.
Reilly Smith scored both Boston goals in the loss. Things look to be different this time around, as the Bruins are benefitting from consistent offensive play throughout their lineup of late. Wingers Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg are riding four-game point streaks. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton has scored in two straight contests.
Tuukka Rask has been shaky of late. He was pulled from this past Thursday’s loss to Montreal. Vacnouver also chased him from the game in their 6-2 routing of Boston. He’ll have to be mentally prepared more than anything else if he hopes to defeat a Canucks team that is hungry and jostling for playoff positioning.
Luongo has allowed 11 goals in his last three starts. The Bruins will look to establish a strong skating game in order to test him early and often. Though newly acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz will likely debut for the Canucks and should provide some stellar defense in front of him.
These clubs have been heading in opposite directions in recent weeks. Vancouver has dropped seven of their last 10, where as the Bruins have emerged winners in seven of their last 10.
Zdeno Chara will not be in the lineup Tuesday for the Bruins. He’s headed to Sochi to carry Slovakia’s flag in the opening ceremonies at the Olympics. Youngster David Warsofsky was recalled from Providence on Monday and will skate in his place.
Expect a roucous Garden crowd. This matchup never fails to provide unparalleled hockey entertainment.