Preview: Wild at Boston
BOSTON — Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk entered last season 0-5 lifetime against the Boston Bruins.
But all that changed when he made 52 saves and blanked the Bruins twice as the Wild swept the two-game series in Boston.
Monday night, Dubnyk and his Wild invade TD Garden for the first of two nonconference games between the teams this season.
The two victories over Boston were part of a 40-win All-Star season for Dubnyk. But he enters Monday night’s game just 4-4-1 with a 2.81 goals-against average and .913 save percentage this season as he and the Wild strive to get above mediocrity.
They are 5-5-2 overall (last in the Central Division) after losing 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night in the finale of a season-long six-game homestand.
That defines mediocrity.
The same can be said for Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, who dropped to 5-4-3 with Saturday night’s 3-2 home loss to the Washington Capitals. Rask, winner of just one of his last seven starts, is 2-4-2 — with a 2.70 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
Obviously, both need better numbers for their teams to compete. But both teams have been banged up and just trying to survive.
The Wild have been getting some players back, but leader Zach Parise and Boston University product Charlie Coyle are out long-term. The Bruins have had all kinds of injuries — and David Backes’ illness and surgery — and have had their two top centers, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, in uniform at the same time for two periods all season.
Dubnyk made 33 saves but got no offensive support Saturday night.
“You’re not going to win hockey games if you don’t put the puck in the net when you’ve got open nets. It’s just not going to happen,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Granted, both goalies were out of this world, I thought. When you have open nets and you have two breakaways in the third period, you’ve got to score, because eventually the other team is going to get that one chance and put it in.”
The same night, the Bruins were beaten by Braden Holtby (12-2 lifetime against Boston) and the Caps beat them for the 10th straight time.
David Pastrnak scored both Bruins goals in the loss, as coach Bruce Cassidy continues to play Pastrnak with Bergeron and Brad Marchand — some thinking he’s putting all of his offensive eggs in one basket.
“He was on the ice for a goal against that as a low forward, you’d like to see have better chemistry breaking that puck out,” Cassidy said of Pastrnak, who has eight goals after snapping a four-game goal drought. “But he scored two goals for us, it’s hard to be critical. That’s what he does best. You want players to do what they do best and work on their weaknesses.
“I think David had a tough time. They were targeting him and Marchy (Marchand). It makes sense. They are our top guys, so it’s a good strategy, and that is something that Marchy has been used to for years and Pasta (David Pastrnak) is going to have to get used to.”
Bergeron, who missed the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, doesn’t look like he’s back to being 100 percent. He has one goal and three points in six games since debuting with a goal and three assists Oct. 19.
While the Bruins are in the midst of four games in six nights (they’re 1-1 so far), the Wild open a four-game trip in six nights with Monday’s game.