Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Dec 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) reaches for the puck while Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins will get at least one tough test on their West Coast road trip, and that’s on Saturday night when they take on the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena.

L.A. is certainly beatable. They’re a good, not great team in the Western Conference, who might share a tier with the Bruins if you tiered the National Hockey League. But the reason they present a good challenge for the B’s is their depth at center, where they have legitimate scoring threats and two-way talent with An┼że Kopitar, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Phillip Danault.

It’s going to be a nice test to see if the Bruins’ Pavel Zacha, Matt Poitras, Charlie Coyle, and Johnny Beecher can hang with this group. But how exactly will the Kings match up? That could very well be the key to the game, and it was a big discussion point on the newest episode of the Sports Hub Underground podcast, which you can hear below. Ty Anderson and I dove into the Bruins-Kings matchup, which should be their most challenging up this upcoming road trip.

(Click here to subscribe to the Sports Hub Underground podcast.)

The big question for the Kings, who as the home team will have the advantage of last change on their lines, is who matches up with David Pastrnak’s line? Kopitar seems like a logical option, given his excellent defensive play at the center position. But Ty believes the task will go to Danault, the Kings’ do-it-all center who is no slouch himself at the defensive end.

As for Kopitar, he’s being leaned on more to generate offense as the top center on the top line. It’s paid off pretty well for him, so far. Kopitar has scored 145 points in 166 games since Danault signed with L.A., dating back to the 2021-22 season.

  • LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings keeps the puck from Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins while on the powerplay during the second period at Staples Center on February 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 23: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings keeps the puck from Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins while on the powerplay during the second period at Staples Center on February 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    “Since they’ve added Danault, what they’ve done is, that’s really allowed Kopitar to be a more offensive-minded centerman,” Ty said. “This is why they brought in Danault, was that they wanted to ease the three-zone burden that was on Kopitar.”

    Kopitar is flanked by 2020 second-overall pick Quinton Byfield, who is struggling to develop as a center at this stage of his career but does have talent and untapped potential. On the right side is Adrian Kempe, who has broken out with 76 goals over the past two seasons.

    With that in mind, the Bruins will probably try to match either Coyle or Beecher’s line against the Kopitar line. Whatever they feel will make it tougher on them to score and generate chances. It’ll just be harder to pull those matchups off in a road game.

    Read below for more things to think about on this Bruins West Coast road trip…

  • Future Bruin In San Jose?

    Jan 22, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) takes a face-off during the third period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 22, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) takes a face-off during the third period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    One big name to watch for the Sharks on Thursday night is their top center, Tomas Hertl. San Jose actually signed Hertl to an eight-year extension just last year. He’ll earn more than $8.1 million per season. But the Sharks are still bad and in need of pieces to assemble in the draft…so would they consider trading Hertl for high draft picks at the 2024 deadline?

    Ty believes Hertl would be a great addition to the Bruins, as a legitimate top-6 center and a dynamic new linemate for Pastrnak. They could then slide Zacha back to left wing on that line, where he excelled playing opposite Pastrnak last season. If San Jose decides to tear it completely down, that could make Hertl a surprise trade option at th midseason point. Something to consider.

  • Don’t Doubt The Ducks

    Jan 8, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) yells at Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras (11) during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 8, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) yells at Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras (11) during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

    The Ducks don’t look great on paper, but they may be catching the Bruins at the right time. Boston will be on the second night of a back-to-back, after what promises to be a grind against the Kings in Los Angeles, so it’s possible they’re not at full strength on Sunday at the Honda Center.

    Anaheim does have a roster packed with recent first-round picks (Trevor Zegras, Mason McTavish, Jamie Drysdale, Pavel Mintyukov), and respectable veterans like Ryan Strome and Cam Fowler, and a legit scoring threat in Troy Terry. So maybe they’ll surprise people this season.

  • Answering The Bell?

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 19: Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins takes a shot against the Florida Panthers during the first period of Game Two of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 19: Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins takes a shot against the Florida Panthers during the first period of Game Two of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 19, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The Bruins should still have a good chance to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in their rematch next Tuesday, which will be at the United Center. One of the stories to watch stemming from the season opener in Boston: will the Blackhawks make Brandon Carlo answer the bell for a questionable hit on his former teammate, Taylor Hall?

    Carlo drilled Hall during the Bruins’ season-opening win over the Blackhawks last week, a bit of a blindside check that shook Hall up at the time. Another former B’s teammate and current Blackhawk, Nick Foligno, said he didn’t like the hit. But at the same time, it would be hard to believe there was any malice on the part of Carlo, who avoided any kind of supplemental discipline for the play.

    Plus, Hall is already back on the ice for the Blackhawks. No harm, no foul? Or are we gonna see a good-old-fashioned prizefight right after puck drop? We shall see.

  • Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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