For the first time since the 2001-02 season, the Boston Bruins have started the season with a 3-0-0 record.
It seems hard to believe that the team went 18 seasons without such a start, especially given the fact that they’ve been a playoff team for the better part of the last decade-plus, but it’s true.
Looking to keep their perfect record intact for their home-opener Saturday against the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins will have one more difficult hurdle in front of them that they’ll have to overcome beforehand.
The Bruins will take on the Colorado Avalanche on the road Thursday to close out a four-game road trip to start their season before heading home to Boston for a three-game homestand. It’ll be a battle between two of the NHL’s last six-remaining undefeated teams after the Bruins faced a similar battle Tuesday against the then-undefeated Vegas Golden Knights.
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In reality, being undefeated at this point in the season means absolutely nothing. In a season that features 82 games, being 3-0-0 (the Bruins record) means the team has played (and won) just under 4 percent of their season schedule. For the Avalanche, that 2-0-0 record reflects just about 2.5 percent of their season schedule.
Having said that, though, the Bruins are also very familiar with what it’s like to miss the playoffs on the last day of the season as they did so back in 2015 and again in 2016.
With that in mind, getting points whenever possible early in the season is of the utmost importance.
While nobody on the team will mention it either, carrying an undefeated streak just adds fuel to the fire and an added sense of pressure that should motivate the Bruins to play harder for one another.
The latter hasn’t seemed to be an issue, though, as this Bruins team is almost identical to the squad that lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final just a few short months ago. This team knows what it’s like to play for one another and that built-in chemistry goes a long way.
Keeping the winning streak alive won’t be easy against the Avalanche, however, as Colorado has given the Bruins a very tough time in recent years.
Avalanche Have Historically Given Bruins Trouble
Though the Bruins most recent game against the Avalanche (in February of 2019) resulted in an overtime victory, they’ve struggled to find consistent footing against Colorado dating back to their move from Quebec City.
In their last five games against Boston, the Avalanche are 4-0-1, outscoring the Bruins 21-10 in those contests.
The last time the Bruins beat the Avalanche in regulation was also the last time they beat them on the road. To find that win, we’d have to go all the way back to Nov. 13 of 2016 in a game that saw David Krejci and Dominic Moore score in a 2-0 shutout victory for the Bruins.
The Bruins inability to consistently win against the Avalanche stems back even further, however, as they’ve only beaten them in back-to-back contests one time since the team moved to Colorado. Those two wins came in 1998.
The Bruins will look to buck that recent trend against a very-good Avalanche team that feature some of the best players on the planet, including one of the best lines in hockey in Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.
The Avalanche also have a new second-line center who is very familiar with the Bruins in Nazem Kadri.
Kadri’s First Game Against Bruins Since Postseason Suspension
To say the Bruins and Kadri have history would be one of the biggest understatements of the 2019-20 season.
Kadri’s last game against the Bruins came in Game 2 of the 2019 postseason, a 4-1 loss for the Maple Leafs in Boston. In that game, Kadri would receive a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for a cross-check to the head of Bruins’ forward Jake DeBrusk. He’d also find himself suspended for the remainder of the first round of the playoffs as a result.
This was the second-consecutive season that Kadri would find himself suspended in the first round against the Bruins as received a three-game ban back in 2018 for another hit to the head of then-Bruins’ forward Tommy Wingels.
This history with the Bruins called for Johnny Hart of 1043 The Fan in Colorado to pose the question of whether or not Kadri should even play in Thursday’s contest at all.
Kadri will be in the lineup for the Avalanche, though, and head coach Jared Bednar doesn’t anticipate any sort of incidents between his new acquisition and the Bruins.
“He toes the line. His temper can run hot a little bit. But I think that’s a positive thing for me,” Bednar said. “I think you don’t want to have to try to coach the passion out of a player. You’d rather try to tone it down and have his teammates calm him down at times.”
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This game should be a hard-hitting affair one way or another and Kadri’s inclusion into the fray should only make things more interesting.