By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After Tuukka Rask stopped 28-of-29 in a 2-1 victory over the Stars on Thursday, the Bruins are looking for Jaroslav Halak to make a similar 2019-20 first impression, as he’ll get the call in net for Saturday’s head-to-head with the Arizona Coyotes.
The 34-year-old Halak was downright phenomenal in his first season as the the yang to Rask’s ying, with 22 wins (five shutouts) and a .922 save percentage in 37 starts for the Bruins. Statistically speaking (from a save percentage standpoint), it was Halak’s best year since his 2011-12 season with the Blues, where he posted a .930 save percentage in 46 starts.
Halak was in net for the Bruins in last year’s trip to Arizona, too, and he was downright phenomenal in that showing, with stops on 32 of 33 shots thrown on net in a gut-it-out 2-1 victory.
But this will be a different test for Halak and Co. this time around, as they’ll get their first look at a new-look Arizona team featuring six-time 30-goal scorer Phil Kessel in their lineup. Acquired from Pittsburgh over the summer, the 32-year-old Kessel will continue to skate on a high-powered line featuring Derek Stepan and winger Clayton Keller.
Kessel has 11 goals and 27 points in 42 career games against the Bruins.
The Bruins will hope to match the offensive game of that ‘Zona top line with history on the side of the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak, as the Bruins have outscored the Coyotes 6-0 in 35 minutes plus of five-on-five play with Marchand and Pastrnak on the ice over the last two seasons.
Second-line center David Krejci, who missed Thursday’s game due to his lingering lower-body injury but participated in Friday’s practice, remains a game-time decision for the Bruins.
The Bruins have won seven straight games in Arizona dating back to Dec. 2011. The Black and Gold’s last loss in Arizona came back on Oct. 17, 2009, when Mark Stuart scored Boston’s lone goal in a 4-1 defeat.
Judd Sirott and Bob Beers have the call of tonight’s game beginning at 8:30 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub, the flagship station of your Boston Bruins, and on the Sports Hub app.