Anyone remember this awful fucking TV show? It was such a Saved By The Bell rip off.
West coast is best coast, right? (wrong).
The Bruins are embarking on a west coast trip through…
You know what this means? 1am ending hockey games! I can’t wait to not watch them because I work a 40 hour per week job where I have to be up at 6am. However, it’s not my job to tell you that I am an old man stuffed inside a 34 year old man’s body (lol, phrasing) but to lay out the week ahead for the Boston Bruins. Before I do that, lets take a look back at last week.
Push It. Push It Real
If you looked at the Bruins record without watching the games, you’d see a 1-2-1 record. Getting three points out of eight isn’t bad at all when you factor in they’re playing teams with either the same or a higher amount of points than them.
It was how they lost that really cheeses my onions.
Allen Mayo and I both wrote about the Bruins inability to move anyone from the goal mouth. In the Maple Leafs home-and-home, their inability to do this accounted for at least three goals, if not more. Allen Mayo had the recap on Saturday night, so I spent it half watching while playing Fortnite on my PS4.
It doesn’t matter who is in net if the Bruins are going to allow their opponents to just sit in front of their goaltending and jam away at pucks. You can bitch and moan about Tuukka Rask, but the same shit happened on Friday night with Anton Khudobin.
I’m becoming less worried about the offense because they’ll eventually get David Krejci back which means there will be some sort of normalcy, but the defense isn’t getting their big name guy back. Adam McQuaid, in theory, should be able to at least clear the net. But the Bruins aren’t getting their Krejci-equivalent. They’re getting a #4 (being nice) to #6 (realistic) defenseman back.
If you believe that just getting Adam McQuaid back is going to solve your issues, you may have issues of your own. It’s not just a player thing, it seems the be a systemic thing.
Fuck the west coast trips.
The Bruins kick off the roadie in Anaheim on Wednesday, then LA on Thursday and finish in San Jose on Saturday before heading to New Jersey next Tuesday. Here’s the thing about the three teams they’re going to face:
Less Anaheim, More Mighty Ducks 3
The Ducks aren’t really the Ducks we remember. You remember the Anaheim Ducks, right? They were the team that was constantly near the top in the Western Conference and seemingly made Western Conference Final after Western Conference Final. Well those Ducks aren’t here this year.
You can make a case that it is injury related as the Ducks lead the NHL in man games lost at 88 (as of November 11). If you don’t know what man-games lost is, here’s a quick definition from mangameslost.com:
Man-Games Lost is a term that refers to the cumulative loss of players (primarily due to injury) for a sports team. It is analogous to the terms “games missed due to injury” or “games lost to injury” used in many professional sports.
The term ‘man-games lost’ is most commonly used to refer to injuries in hockey (the National Hockey League) and football (soccer for the Canadians and Americans) but it is gaining traction in its use in other professional sports leagues. Every game that a player misses due to an injury counts as one man-games lost for his team.
It isn’t just the injuries that has the Ducks as the 22nd team overall in the NHL in terms of points. They’re in the bottom third of the league when it comes to scoring goals and they’re middle of the pack when it comes to stopping them.
The only redeeming quality seems to be their penalty kill, which is top 5 in the league.
Hell, even their goaltending has been okay. John Gibson isn’t going to blow you away but he’s been solid so far this season. Gibson has a SV% of .917 and his GSAA is 20th in the league at 2.60. He’s not having a terrible season by any stretch of the imagination and when you look at the Bruins counterpart, he’s looks quite good.
Having Ryan Kesler out for an undetermined amount of time is going to ruin this team. It would be like the Bruins missing Bergeron for months. While Kesler isn’t as good as Bergeron, he’s their Patrice Bergeron (in essence).
Hmmm, Patrice Bergeron essence.
This is going to be a super close game, I believe, because no one can score on either side. It’s going to be one of those 1-0, 2-1 games and it’ll come down to the last period. I
It Feels Good To Be The King(s)
You want a world beater? You got a world beater. The LA Kings are firing on every cylinder right now. They’re the second highest point total in the Western Conference. They have the hottest goalie in the NHL in Jonathan Quick.
Quick has the highest GSAA in the NHL at 10.17. Among goalies who played played 10+ games, Quick is first in the NHL in SV% and 5th in GAA (which goes to show you that GAA is bullshit).
What really gives LA their advantage is how good their defense is. The Kings are second in the NHL in goal against. They’ve only allowed 41 goals through 17 games. If you’re a big fan of goals against per game, they’re allowing under 2.50 goals per game.
This is a huge problem when you’re a Bruins teams that’s only scored 44 goals in 16 games. This week’s infographic really puts the Bruins scoring woes in perspective.
On top of a stingy defense is a penalty kill that is ranked first in the NHL and the only penalty kill to crack 90% or higher on killing penalties. While the Bruins power play has been a top 10 power play all year, their home-and-home against the Leafs was incredibly fruitless. The Bruins went 1-for-9 (11%) on the power play over those two games against Toronto. For some perspective, the Maple Leafs penalty kill before the home-and-home series was under 80%.
The good thing for the Bruins is that LA’s power play isn’t anything special and the Bruins penalty kill is #actuallygood. The Bruins are 4th in the NHL at killing penalties while LA’s power play is 17th overall, converting at an 17.8% rate.
There’s one last team we need to chat about…
Fin-ally, The End of the Road (Trip).
So many goddamn puns you guys I’m sorry.
Last but not least are the San Jose Sharks, the enigma of the NHL. The Sharks should be better than they are, but they’re not getting the goal scoring contributions from guys like Brent Burns that you’d think they get. Instead, resident oedipus complexer Logan Couture is absolutely crushing it this season.
San Jose has scored 43 goals this season and Couture has 10. That accounts for 23% of the Sharks total goal total. The next guy? Joonas Donskoi with 5. Their usual suspects are under-producing in a huge way.
Brent Burns: 0 goals (29 last season)
Joe Pavelski: 4 goals (29 last season, on pace for 23)
And there’s a 27 goal hole that may go unfulfilled with the exit for Patrick Marleau. Could a guy like Kevin Labanc fill that void? Doubtful. While he has three goals on the season and is on pace for 17 goals, he hasn’t scored a goal in over a month.
It will more than likely have to be a group of them that will have to account for Marleau’s absence.
To be fair, the Sharks didn’t score a ton last year either. They didn’t have a 30 goal scorer and they were only ranked 19th in goals for. The backbone of the Sharks for the past few years has been their goaltending and their defense.
Many Bruins fans are going to make comparisons to Rask and Martin Jones. It’s going to happen. I’m not going to do it. I’m kind of sick of it already.
With that said, Martin Jones has been really good so far this season. Jones is currently 9th in the NHL in SV% at .925 and 13th in GSAA at 4.50. If GAA is your thing (and it shouldn’t be), he’s first at 2.13.
San Jose blocks a ton of shots (6th in the NHL at 235) so Boston is going to have to just shoot. Lately it seems guys have been giving up good shots to try and make the flashy pass. David Pastrnak has done this a couple times last week.
It’s going to be a hard road trip for the Bruins. They’re not a good road team (1-3-2 is a small sample size, though) and only Anaheim has a losing home record (4-5-2).
Get your coffee brewing friends, we’re in for some long nights.
Stock up on the Red Bull and cocaine this week. The Bruins are doing a West Coast swing, facing off against Anaheim, LA and 2016 Stanley Cup Runner-Up San Jose. Unlike Washington, however, San Jose didn’t put up a banner for that kind of thing.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 11/15
Screw you, they’ll always be purple and Mighty to me.
…for once that wasn’t a penis joke. Hmm. Are we not doing phrasing anymore?
Goalies: The Bruins might luck out here. Back-up Cryin’ Ryan Miller is hurt and the Ducks decided the best thing for a returning from a concussion John Gibson would be to start against the murderous Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. So really by the time Wednesday rolls around, there just might be corpses in the Anaheim net.
If you do have Gibson and he does live to see Boston, start him. He’s pretty good on the seemingly rare occasion he’s healthy.
Skaters: Getzlaf is hurt. He’s been hurt. Sweet jebus, update your rosters and put him on the IR people! Sorry… bitter about an absentee owner. Anyway. Rakell is a must play these days, especially against a messy Bruins D. Corey Perry is doing nothing these days. If you happen to have an open spot, sure, why not, but don’t sit another player for him. Sami Vatanen is back and is heating up. If Manson or Montour are available in your league, scoop ‘em up if you need a quick fix on D. Not sure either can keep up their current pace but they’re riding high right now.
L.A. Kings, 11/16
Goalies: If you have Quick, congrats, He’s having a great season. Start him. START HIM. B’s will have a tough time again him.
Skaters: Who would’ve thought the Kings would’ve been one of the best teams in the league in mid November? After a terrible year last year, Kopitar is on fire like a protesting monk. Dustin Brown is suddenly relevant again. Rookie Kempe is off and on but worth a flyer if you need another player this Thursday. Basically, just throw a dart at the Kings roster and pick up whoever you land on and they’ll like do well for you this week. Offense or Defense, doesn’t matter. All the Kings horses and all the Kings men are busy destroying the NHL again.
San Jose Sharks, 11/18
Goalies: TRADE RASK FOR MARTIN JONES! Oh sorry, thought I was a Rask hater on Twitter. I meant to say totally start Jones against the Bruins, especially with all the injuries the Bruins have on offense.
Skaters: What happened to Brent Burns? He was such a fantasy monster last year. Ole Joe Thornton is playing well and has 13 points in 16 career games against the Bruins so go for it. Pavelski will give you some of the extras like hits and shots, even if he’s having a bit of a down season scoring wise. Logan Couture may look like a horse but he’s probably been the Sharks best player this season. Unless the Bruins distract him with a bucket of oats, he’s going to score against them most likely.
Goalies: Rask could be in trouble this week. B’s defense is rough and they’re facing a few teams that have some great scorers. Strap in if you have him. He’s still a million times better than any other option the Bruins have though so shut up.
Skaters: If you’re lucky enough to have Bergeron, Marchand, Krug, McAvoy or Pastrnak, you start them. They’re all pretty much match up proof these days. And if your league counts kills as a category, McAvoy will probably check someone so hard they’ll liquefy.