Continuing the theme of the Chicago Blackhawks being severely outmatched on paper by their opponent, it’s the Boston Bruins awaiting them at the United Center on Tuesday night.
The easiest way to sum up the differences between these two teams is with one simple statistic: Boston has played 65 games this season and has 50 wins. Chicago has played 66 games and has 50 ... points.
The Bruins clinched a playoff berth last weekend and have the numbers to confirm their league-best record of 50-10-5 — good for 105 points, for those doing the math at home — is no fluke. They have the second best offense in the league at 3.74 goals per game and the best defense at 2.14 goals against per game. They have the best penalty kill at an 85.6 percent conversation rate. Boston is even second in the league at the faceoff dot with a win rate of 54.5 percent (Chicago’s third at 53.8). It’s as dominant of a regular season as any team has put together in recent memory, with the Bruins still in striking distance of the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens’ 132 points — though they only had 80 games.
Boston has hit a few stumbling blocks in 2023, perhaps out of sheer boredom. It lost four of five around the All-Star Break and the Bruins enter this game having lost two of three — including a 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday to cap a weekend home-and-home. But if there was ever a “get-right” game on the schedule for the Bruins, this is it.
Injuries to forwards Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall have not helped, and both remain sidelined. But those absences have been somewhat mitigated with the additions of Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway in various trades before the deadline, providing even more depth to a team that was already bursting at the seams with it. Combine those new pieces with franchise fixtures like David Pastrnak (team leader with 88 points), Brad Marchand (55 points in 57 games), David Krejci (51 in 60) and Patrice Bergeron (49 in 65) and the sum is a juggernaut skating over to 1901 W. Madison on Tuesday night.
As for Chicago, Cole Guttman is done for the season following Monday’s practice news while forwards Mike Hardman and Buddy Robinson were recalled from Rockford to make up for Guttman’s absence, along with that of a few other forwards. Comparing the season and/or career numbers for those players with damn near anyone in the Boston lineup for Tuesday should provide a decent forecast of how this game will probably unfold.
These two teams met in Massachusetts on Nov. 19, with the Bruins winning 6-1. It’s possible that the Blackhawks catch the Bruins napping and land a few early jabs in this bout, but it’s understandable if the feeling for watching this game revolves around waiting for the inevitable haymaker to connect.
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Bruins
42.84% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 50.96% (15th)
41.13% (31st) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 53.66% (5th)
2.47 (32nd) — Goals per game — 3.74 (2nd)
3.55 (25th) — Goals against per game — 2.14 (1st)
53.8% (3rd) — Faceoffs — 54.5% (2nd)
16.5% (29th) — Power play — 22.7% (10th)
76.2% (22nd) — Penalty kill — 85.6% (1st)
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Radio: WGN 720