Boston Bruins (38-30-6) 82 pts @ New York Islanders (35-26-12) 82 Pts
When: March 25th, 2017
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Time: 7PM EDT
Radio: AM970 – The Answer, 88.7FM – WRHU, 103.9FM – LI News (Chris King, Greg Picker)
The Islanders return home after a brief two-game road trip in which they took all four points. Tonight’s game is the latest most important game of the season. A win tonight would vault the Isles ahead of Boston into sole possession of the second wild card spot, with a game in hand. For weeks the Isles have been chasing the Toronto Maple Leafs. But, a Leafs’ hot streak, combined with four-game losing streak by the Bruins, has sent the Bruins tumbling into ninth place in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins and Islanders both come into the game with 82 points. The Isles are considered ahead because they have played one less game. If they are tied with the same amount of games played, Boston currently owns the ROW tiebreaker.
The Islanders had an epic battle with the other black and yellow team, the Penguins, last night in Pittsburgh. Controversial goals, replays overturning and keeping goals, special teams goals, last minute goals, and shootout drama, last night’s game had it all. Anthony Beauvillier and John Tavares scored in the shootout to give the Islanders a huge 4-3 victory. Jaroslav Halak got his first victory since 2016, and gave the Islanders confidence that they once again have a two-headed monster in goal.
The Bruins come into tonight’s game losers of four straight. They started out the month on a 6-1-0 tear, but have since come back to earth. Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives, and you should expect Boston to come out and play in a desperate way. They last played on Thursday, a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay. That’s a Lightning team who also cannot be ignored. They are one point behind both the Bruins and Islanders. However, tonight is the Islanders’ game in hand on the Lightning, which is another reason for a huge win.
Boston will be without starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask. He seems to have tweaked something in practice, and is out with a lower-body injury. Anton Khudobin will get the start against Thomas Greiss. The Isles top netminder will bring a 72:48 shutout streak vs. Boston into tonight’s matchup. The Islanders have already won the season series against Boston, with wins in Boston on December 20th, and January 16th. But tonight, the boys will be back in Brooklyn. That’s a bit of a complicated problem for the Isles who are 2-9-0 in their last 11 home games against the Bruins, including 0-4-0 in the last four.
The Isles must be careful of Brad Marchand. He has six points in his last five games., and his next goal will give him a career high. He is fourth in the NHL with 80 points.
The Bruins should watch out for Josh Ho-Sang. The Isles’ budding young star has really been a vital part of the team’s offense. He’s got eight points in 12 games with the big club and he has been consistently one of the most exciting players on the ice.
No word yet on the status of Nikolay Kulemin who left last night’s game early due to injury. If he can’t go, Shane Prince would likely get the call. We will update the story as soon as Weight announces lineups.