The Boston Bruins’ upcoming three-game road trip on the West Coast will be more than just a challenge. It’ll be a 1-2-3 punch from the top three teams in the Pacific Division.
After Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden, Bruins coach Claude Julien discussed with his team the importance of this trip. It starts against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night at Honda Center in Anaheim. The Ducks are tied for the top spot in the Western Conference with 67 points, joining the reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Boston’s trip continues Thursday at Los Angeles, where the Kings currently are third in the division. The Bruins close out their trip on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.
“It’s going to be a challenge, I’ve said it all along, the players know about it,” Julien said. “They have a combined six regulation losses between those three teams, so it goes to show you how hard it is to go there and win some hockey games. It’s a challenge that I and the rest of the team are really looking forward to because that’s the kind of challenge we need right now.”
The Bruins are 10-8-0 on the road this season and have a 5-1-0 record against Pacific Division opponents. Boston defeated Anaheim 3-2 in a shootout on Oct. 31 at TD Garden, and beat the Sharks 2-1 on Oct. 24 at home. The Bruins and Kings haven't played yet this season.
“This will definitely be our toughest challenge coming up playing those three western teams, I don’t think they have many losses at home,” said Bruins forward Daniel Paille, who has four points in the last five games since returning to the lineup after suffering a concussion. “It’s definitely going to be a tough road trip, but I think we’re looking forward to that challenge with the best of that conference or that division, and being able to match up to their intensity and their physical play.”
As of Monday, the Ducks are 31-8-5, which is the best 44-game start in franchise history. According to Elias Sports, Anaheim is just the fifth team since 1973-74 to record at least one point in each of its first 19 home games with a 17-0-2 record.
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (21-9-2, 1.96 goals-against average) will get the bulk of the work this week, and could play against all three teams. Rask was happy with the way the Bruins played last Saturday against the Jets, but he realizes they need to bring a more consistent effort on the road against some of the best Western Conference teams.
“You try to win every game, right?” Rask said. “Obviously, but we can’t just go there and expect to win with an OK effort because they’re great teams and they’re home wreckers that are probably one of the best in the league. We have to be really tight defensively and be smart about it and make smart plays. We’ll start on Tuesday and try to get off on a good note.”