The Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights have shined under first-year coaches and carry two of the NHL’s three best records into Monday’s showdown in Boston.
The game will mark Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy’s first encounter with Boston since he was let go in June after leading the Bruins for six seasons, bringing them to the brink of a Stanley Cup in 2019.
“I walked out to the home bench to see because I’d been in that spot a lot,” Cassidy said after Sunday’s morning skate. “I used to always look up at the banners and wanted to hang one. It didn’t happen, but still great memories and people.”
The Western Conference-leading Golden Knights lost three of four before playing what Cassidy called a “professional road game” in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Detroit.
“We won all three periods, which is exactly what you want,” goaltender Adin Hill said.
While skating in his 1,008th straight game, Phil Kessel logged his first multi-point effort with Vegas and scored a goal.
Jack Eichel (13) and Reilly Smith (12) — who have 25 combined goals — both scored for a second straight game. Jonathan Marchessault also found the net.
“We want to get wins, but you want to win the right way,” Cassidy said. “Some nights … you’re gonna get a special performance, and that’s fine, there’s 82 of these. But you want to get your game in order. … I thought we did a lot of that (Saturday).”
Eichel, a native of North Chelmsford, Mass., will be a game-time decision after exiting Saturday’s third period with an apparent lower-body injury.
“If anyone wants to play Monday in Boston, it’s Jack, so he’ll do everything he can to be out there,” Cassidy said.
Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will miss a fourth straight game (personal reasons).
The Bruins have put together one special performance after another, including a league-record 14 consecutive home wins to start the season.
At 9-0-0, they are also the only team without any loss against a team from the West.
Both marks held up with Saturday’s 5-1 win over Colorado in which 40 shots piled up and David Pastrnak and Trent Frederic each scored twice.
The Bruins have come back from deficits multiple times, but this was a dominant effort against an injury-depleted but championship-level Avalanche club.
“I think we have a killer instinct that has grown throughout the year,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “You’ve seen us do it in a lot of different ways. … This team, you can tell a lot of guys have won a lot in this league.”
Different players have continually stepped up and contributed to a winning formula, and Frederic was just the latest in his first career multi-goal game.
“We’ve been seeing it coming for a while. From where he started in training camp, he just keeps getting better,” Montgomery said. “I think you’re seeing an aggressive mindset offensively now.”
The Bruins haven’t faced adversity yet, even though stars like Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy were sidelined early in the season.
“Things have gone well so far,” Marchand said. “There will be a time maybe we’ll let a game slip or we don’t get that big goal.”
Boston first looks for a strong finish to its four-game homestand, but Cassidy expects his former team to be a tough opponent.
“It’ll be one of our best (challenges), I assume,” Cassidy said. “You’ve got a team that hasn’t lost at home, they’re firing on all cylinders. … Sometimes that’s good for your team.”
–Field Level Media