The Vancouver Canucks visit the Boston Bruins in another hyped up 2011 Stanley Cup Final rematch. Here’s your gameday preview.
Every win in the NHL carries a two-point value, but for the Vancouver Canucks and their fans, victories against the Boston Bruins always feel that much sweeter.
It’s been nine years since the Bruins soundly defeated Vancouver 4-0 in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev are the only active Canucks who suited up for that 2010-11 squad.
The Bruins, on the other hand, still carry most of the same core players from their last championship team. Brad Marchand, the ultimate agitator who succeeded in getting under the skins of the Sedin twins during that heated series, is one of them.
No win against the Bruins will fully erase the pain of that Game 7 loss until the Canucks actually win their first Stanley Cup. But any form of revenge is wonderful and worthwhile, and Vancouver has won its last three meetings against the big, bad Bruins.
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While Vancouver sits atop the Pacific Division with 65 points, Boston trails the Washington Capitals by one point for tops in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are also trying to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are only five points behind them for first in the Atlantic Division.
Unlike most of the recent matchups, both teams are making heavy pushes for the postseason. Two major points are at stake here in Beantown.
Players to watch
Elias Pettersson: If Vancouver wants to beat one of the league’s premier teams on the road, they’ll need their superstar centre to lead the way. He’s coming off a two-goal effort against the Carolina Hurricanes, plus a fancy shootout goal in the 4-3 loss.
David Pastrnak: Boston’s All-Star sniper leads the NHL in goals with 38, but he’s only one up on Auston Matthews and Alexander Ovechkin. Pastrnak will provide a huge test for Vancouver’s rebuilt blue line, although they held him pointless in both meetings last year.
Quinn Hughes: The slick rookie blueliner will get his first taste of the Canucks-Bruins rivalry. Hughes (39 points) is now ahead of Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar (37 points) in the rookie scoring race. Vancouver could certainly use another Hughes takeover tonight.
Brad Marchand: No matter how you feel about Marchand, you can’t deny that he’s only getting better with age, like a fine wine. Coming off the first 100-point season of his career, Marchand is up to 68 points in 53 games. He had three points in Boston’s two-game road trip over the weekend.
Prediction: 4-2 Bruins
The Canucks have been one of the hottest teams in the new year, going 7-1-1 over their last nine. But the Bruins — winners of three straight — have been just as dangerous, going 7-2-1 over their past 10.
At the end of the day, the edge has to go to the superior team with a remarkable 17-2-9 home record. Pettersson and Brock Boeser will tally the two goals for Vancouver, but they’ll struggle to keep up with the “Perfection Line” in a 4-2 loss.