For the second time in three seasons, the Boston Bruins have done their part in entirely fulfilling the notorious ‘Beat LA’ chants, which have rendered the city hoarse over the past four eventful months. With two wins over the Los Angeles Kings in a week, the Bruins vaulted over a benchmark of sorts, directly correlated to their ensuing play in recent runs to the playoffs.
Prior to a 4-2 victory on Saturday at Staples Center, pushing the B’s winning streak to five games, the teams played in four straight one-goal contests, including a 5-4 overtime-thriller a week before, capped by Patrice Bergeron’s game-winner. The tightly-contested affairs have basically become annual highlights on both teams’ schedules.
With the out-of-conference rivalry likely under wraps until next season, here’s a deeper look at how the Bruins have surged following each of their two previous season series with the Kings.
2017-18: Bruins Salvage Split After Toffoli’s OT Miracle
A mediocre first month of the campaign saw the Black & Gold welcome Los Angeles to TD Garden. Regulation ended in a 1-1 deadlock after first-period tallies from Brad Marchand and Tyler Toffoli. The latter doubled his fun in the most shocking of manners, cleanly beating Tuukka Rask with 0.4 seconds remaining in the extra session off an Anze Kopitar faceoff win.
This deflating loss preceded a similar string of sub-par performances from the Bruins, to the tune of a 2-4-2 record, leading to the teams’ second meeting in mid-November.
While the final score remained the same, the B’s exited Staples Center with a regulation win. Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara scored, while Anton Khudobin finished with 27 saves to snap a four-game losing skid. The momentum carried over into the finale of the annual West Coast swing, a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Bruins won seven of their next nine games and never looked back on the road to the second seed in the Atlantic Division.
2016-17: Sweep Helps Send Bruins Back to Postseason
After missing the playoffs in the previous two seasons, the Bruins’ record stood at 16-13-3 entering their first matchup with the Kings at TD Garden in December. A first period tip-in from Jimmy Hayes off a Colin Miller shot from the right circle, held up as the game’s only goal. Rask only needed to make 18 saves for the shutout.
Just as they would a year later, the Bruins continued their middling play after the first meeting, this time through the All-Star Game which, coincidentally, was held in Los Angeles.
When the teams reconvened in late February, the B’s featured a new face behind the bench in Bruce Cassidy, who was victorious in his first four games before a loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the middle of the West Coast trip. After the first period ended in a 1-1 stalemate, the Bruins scored three unanswered goals for their most decisive victory over the Kings since a 3-1 final in 2015, which featured an empty-net goal.
Will the Beat Go on for the Bruins in 2019?
Things figure to only get tougher from here, as the Black & Gold play on Monday in San Jose before five straight games against teams in playoff position, starting with the Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues. The Bruins finally return home on Feb. 26 for another meeting with the Sharks before welcoming in the league’s top team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
However, if recent history can indeed indicate a trend, the Bruins, amidst their longest winning streak and road trip of the season, figure to keep on rolling along towards and, hopefully into, the playoffs. They’ll have the city of L.A. to thank for that.