Event: Boston Bruins vs. Dallas Stars
Date/Time: Saturday, December 31, 2011 - 8 p.m. EDT.
Location: American Airlines Center (Capacity: 18,532), Dallas, TX.
Broadcast Info: Saturday's game between the Bruins and the Stars will be broadcast live on NESN. The game can also be heard on the 98.5 the Sports Hub Radio Network, with Dave Goucher providing play-by-play, and Bob Beers providing analysis.
Last Time Out: The Bruins found themselves in one of their closer games on Wednesday, after taking an eventual 2-1 win in overtime against the Phoenix Coyotes. David Krejci scored just 47 seconds into the first period, while defenseman Dennis Seidenberg finished them off 58 seconds into overtime.
Tuukka Rask was in net for the B’s and recorded 21 saves off 22 shots for his fourth straight win. He is currently first place in the league in both save percentage (.945) and goals against (1.61).
The Dallas Stars fell to the Blue Jackets their last time out after scoring less than nine minutes into the first period. Columbus put up three unanswered goals to put Dallas out 4-1. The Stars still managed to outshoot them 37-29, including a 19-9 advantage in the first period alone. However, goaltender Kari Lehtonen was unable to keep the puck out for much longer, despite his efforts from his first game back from a groin injury.
Columbus improved to just 10-22-5 against a Dallas team that sits over .500 (20-15-1).
Storyline: It’s impossible to talk about these two teams and not bring up last year’s memorable matchup back in Boston. Just four seconds into the game and the record books already racked up three fights without so much as noting a faceoff win.
Bruins also recall netting two goals in the first 1:20 of the game as well, courtesy of Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron.
Though the B’s ended up winning that game 6-3, tonight’s game could prove to be a bit more of a challenge for both teams. For one, the Bruins will be playing against former teammate and Stanley Cup Champion Michael Ryder.
"It’s going to be different," Lucic said. "He’s been here for the last three years and I know him as a Bruin in my career more than anything."
Ryder has 14 goals and 11 assists for the Stars this season, and at 31-years old is considered one of the veterans on the team.
This is the 14th time the Stars will have played on New Years Eve at home since they moved to Dallas in 1993 and they are 8-4-2 in that span.
Players To Watch: The first line is starting to take shape again for the Bruins, despite their numbers being down. David Krejci scored in his last game, and the others are spending the majority of their time in the offensive zone.
Also, it shouldn’t be a surprise, but anything can happen in a Bruins and Stars matchup. The three catalysts of last year’s game, Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Adam McQuaid are all in the lineup again tonight.
Prediction: In the final game of 2011, I think the Bruins will be able to take out Dallas before heading back to the East Coast. Tim Thomas should be in net tonight, and his last loss came on December 8 against the Florida Panthers. He currently holds second place in the league with a .943 save percentage. Final Score: Bruins 4, Stars 2.