From the stat truck: Do Bruins make good first impressions vs. opponents?

DJ Bean
March 14, 2011 - 8:27 pm
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With the stretch run upon the Bruins, Claude Julien's club obviously has an undesirable streak to snap. Winless over their last four, the B's need to show that their 0-2-2 slump won't continue at a part of the season in which each point is placed under a microscope.

There are multiple issues facing the team as they return to the road, like the sudden tendency to blow multi-goal leads, as was the case when they saw both the Sabres and Islanders come back in games in which the Bruins led by two. It will be focused on heavily, but it isn't the only thing to keep an eye on.

Despite having just 14 games remaining in the regular season, this week will also be all about making a good first impression. Both Tuesday and Thursday's games will come against opponents the B's have yet to face this season in the Blue Jackets and Thrashers, respectively.

To this point of the season, the Bruins have fared decently against teams when facing them for the first time. Per the good ol' WEEI.com stat truck, they have a 14-10-2 records in such games. For the sake of comparison, the results have been worse than the Flyers' 16-6-6 mark and better than the Canadiens' 12-9-2.

Looking at things more recently, the B's have fared well of late in their first meetings with teams. Since Jan. 22, the B's have played seven opponents for the first time this season (all of whom, unsurprisingly, were Western Conference teams). The Bruins went 5-2-0 against those clubs, losing to only the Red Wings and Sharks, who are currently second and third in the Western Conference, respectively. They beat the Flames, Presidents' Trophy-favorite Canucks and Oilers, three teams they hadn't seen previously this season, in succession Feb. 22-27.

To both snap their winless streak and continue their successful stretch against unfamiliar faces, the B's will have to bounce back against a Columbus team that has been nothing short of bad lately. The Blue Jackets are just 1-4-3 over their last eight games, with the win coming Saturday against the Hurricanes. While the Blue Jackets have had their fair share of struggles of late, looking at how they've fared in their first meetings with clubs might suggest they shouldn't be taken lightly. In facing 26 teams for the first time this season (as many as the Bruins have entering Tuesday), Columbus has gone 15-8-3.

To round things out, the Predators are 13-8-5 when seeing a team for the first time this season, losing their last two such contests. Of course, those losses came against the top two teams in the NHL in the Canucks and Flyers, and the Predators have gotten points in six of their last seven games (4-1-2).

These stats aren't everything, and when it comes down to it, execution, consistency and holding onto leads will likely be the biggest factors this week for the Bruins. Still, it will be interesting to see if the Bruins' recent string of success when seeing a team for the first time continues, or whether the funk they've been in over their last four games will persist.

After Thursday's game in Nashville, the Bruins will have faced 28 of the other 29 teams in the league thus far this season, missing only the Blackhawks, whom they'll see March 29 at the Garden.

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