In the midst of a challenging three-game road trip against the premiere teams in the Western Conference, the Boston Bruins need to take advantage of the slumping Los Angeles Kings Thursday night at Staples Center.
Despite a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night at Honda Center, the Bruins played well and had the opportunity to hand the Ducks their first regulation home loss, but Boston was ineffective on special teams and Anaheim capitalized en route to victory. The Bruins allowed three power-play goals and one shorthanded goal against Anaheim.
The Kings are 1-5-1 in their last seven games and have been struggling offensively, not being able to score more than three goals in the last eight games. Similar to Tuesday’s game when the Bruins outshot the Ducks 16-3 in the first period, Boston needs a strong start in hopes of gaining the early lead against the Kings. Los Angeles is 19-4-3 when scoring first this season, so getting an early edge will be key.
“We have to be determined the way we were [Tuesday],” Julien told reporters in LA. “Obviously, we need to have a good penalty-killing unit doing a good job. The three goals came from three major breakdowns on each one of them, so it doesn’t take much sometimes to get scored on and if you get a major breakdown on each one of them against a team like Anaheim who is so good at finishing and scoring goals, those things are going to happen.”
He added: “Five-on-five I thought we did a great job and I thought we were the dominant team 5-on-5, but unfortunately the special teams is what made the difference.”
Tuukka Rask, who faced only 20 shots against the Ducks, should be back in net Thursday against the Kings. He earned a 3-0 victory in his only career start against the Kings in 2011. If Jonathan Quick gets the start, he’s 5-2-0 with a 2.19 goals-against average in seven career starts against Boston. Quick has split two games since returning from a groin injury that caused him to miss 24 games.
The Bruins did receive a bit of good news on this trip as forward Loui Eriksson, who has missed the last 14 games due to a concussion, was cleared for contact Wednesday and participated in a full team practice. Julien called Eriksson’s return doubtful for Thursday against the Kings, but he’s progressing.
“He’s feeling good enough and he’s been cleared for contact and now it’s just a matter of time to work through that and getting back in the lineup,” Julien told reporters.
Julien added: “It was his first day with contact and having been through what he’s been through you don’t want to rush him too much. He’s got to be confident he can take a good hit and stuff like that. [Wednesday] was a good first practice, the 5-on-5 was a little intense and that’s what he kind of needs right now.”
Also, Bruins forward Milan Lucic is expected to be back in the lineup Thursday against the Kings after he missed Tuesday’s game against the Ducks with a bout of food poisoning.