The Bruins embark on their first road trip of the season tonight, when they face the Stars in Dallas. The Bruins have not lived up to the lofty expectations that were placed upon them at seasons beginning. The Bruins are just 2-3-0 on the young season and are coming off a 4-3 loss against a surprising Colorado Avalanche team and needed 65+ minutes and three goals late in the third period to beat the Islanders.
Perhaps the Bruins need to get on the road to gel as a team, and get away from the home-ice pressure. There may be no better suited opponent for the Bruins to gel with than against the Stars. The Bruins had their best all-around team effort in last year's only meeting with the Stars in the notorious Steve Ott/Sean Avery game. It was that game in which the Bruins stood up for each other, and beat up on an opponent in all facts of the game. The team carried the emotion of that game throughout the season and kick-started their great team play for the duration of the regular season.
Know your Enemy
Dallas will be without Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, and their pest Steve Ott tonight, all are day-to-day. Marty Turco will start in net for the Stars. The Stars are coming off a dominating 6-0 victory over the Nashville Predators Wednesday night in which they scored four goals in the first nine minutes of the game. This team has proven to put goals on the board through their willingness to take shots. In their first four games they shot at least 30 times on net and only needed 26 shots in their 6-0 victory against the Predators.
The Stars' first line is one to be reckoned with in the West. James Neal, Brad Richards, and Loui Eriksson will be the biggest threat on the ice by far tonight. With Modano and Ott out of the lineup, the Stars are more-or-less a one line team, but that line can be a game-changer. Neal is a Blake Wheeler type of player in both size and skill, he can pass and score and is very young. Eriksson is one of the most underrated goal scorers in the game. Loui had 36 goals last year, and looks strong so far this season, scoring twice and putting up an assist on Wednesday. Richards, who pivots Neal and Eriksson, is off to a hot star as well with 9 points in his first five games. Richards is almost a point-a-game player in his career against Boston with 25 points in 28 games.
Marty Turco will be in net tonight for the Stars, as usual. Turco appears to be back on his game after a dismal season in 08-09. Turco already has a shutout this season, he only had three last year, and his save percentage (.911) is on nearly on par with his career save percentage (.913).
Tim Thomas was first off the practice sheet today, which means he will be between the pipes tonight. Thomas (1-2 4.01GAA) will look to find his groove on the road. Thomas has been mired by a mix of bad rebounds and less than great defense. In just two career games against the Stars he is 1-0-1 with a 0.97 GAA, only allowing two goals on 74 shots.
Dennis Wideman did not make the trip to Dallas due to an upper-body injury, and Johnny Boychuk will be the teams' sixth defenseman and should be paired with Mark Stuart.
Claude Julien has also mixed up the teams lines, attempting to spark some offense in the inconsistent Bruins forwards.
The Bruins power-play is just 4-29 on the young season, which includes the Carolina game in which they went 4-8. Expect the Bruins to take more risks, as well as creating different PP combinations on this road trip.
I fully expect to see the Bruins come out flying tonight, they will be fresher than the Bruins thanks to a long break, and should feel no ill effects of travel. The road may be the remedy to the Bruins slow start. The Bruins must score first, and dictate play early to slow down the potent first line of the Stars.