The Boston Bruins will take the ice at the TD Garden for the first time since Jan. 26 when they face the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars Thursday night. The Stars, one of the NHL’s biggest surprises, return from the break with 65 points, and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 contests.
Dallas is a team that was picked by most experts to be near the bottom of the Western Conference, but instead has soared to the third seed because of the emergence of their young forwards, giving them nine players who are legitimate top-6 talents, as well as the tough play of their largely anonymous defense. But perhaps even more significant than those factors is the revival of two careers between the pipes. Former Atlanta Thrasher Kari Lehtonen has finally picked up the work ethic necessary to get the best out of his elite talent after running himself out of Atlanta.
Lehtonen, the second overall pick of the 2002 entry draft, has a record of 22-11-5 with a 2.57 GAA and a .920 SV%. Joining him in the cage is old friend Andrew Raycroft, who has been just as impressive, posting a record of 8-4-0 with a 2.42 GAA and an identical save percentage. On the offensive end, the Stars are led by Captain Brendan Morrow, who perfectly personifies the team as a whole. Morrow is a gifted goal scorer, but is also one of the most physical forwards in the league. The combination of offensive firepower and physical play can be found up and down the roster.
Their most productive offensive players are All-Stars Brad Richards and Loui Erikson. Richards and Erikson combine to form one of the best and most entertaining duos in the NHL, especially on the powerplay. Richards, who serves as the team’s “quarterback” on the powerplay, leads all NHL players in powerplay ice time, and will often stay on the ice for the entire two minutes of the man advantage. Thursday’s game features two legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, and should be one of the most entertaining games of the year, win or lose. Boston Bruins tickets are now available!