Bruins-Stars Preview


The Boston Bruins are playing so well, coach Claude Julien is reminding his team to keep its confidence in check.

Boston has plenty of reason to be confident against its next opponent.

The red-hot Bruins go for their eighth straight win Saturday night when they visit former teammate Michael Ryder and the Dallas Stars, who haven't defeated Boston in more than four years and are coming off a loss to the league's worst team.

With a 3-7-0 start becoming an increasingly distant memory, the Bruins (24-9-1) continue to run roughshod over the league with a 21-2-1 record since the start of November. Boston has outscored the opposition 32-8 during its current winning streak, which reached seven games Wednesday night with a 2-1 overtime victory at Phoenix to open a three-game road trip.

Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg scored the winner 58 seconds into the extra session. Seidenberg and Boston's other blue-liners made life easy in net for Tuukka Rask, who faced only 22 shots. With a strong defense in front of either Rask or Tim Thomas, the Bruins have limited opponents to 64 goals - far and away the fewest in the NHL.

"We take pride in our defensive game without the puck,'' Julien said. "Confidence grows with each game, and we believe 99 percent of the time, we will get great goaltending. However, we know there will be challenges ahead, so we have to guard against overconfidence.''

Those may be important words of advice Saturday for the reigning Stanley Cup champions, who haven't lost to Dallas since a 4-1 defeat Oct. 5, 2007, and have outscored the Stars 14-4 during a three-game winning streak in the series. Boston won last season's meeting 6-3 at home behind two goals and an assist from Patrice Bergeron.

Meanwhile, Dallas (20-15-1) can't be brimming with confidence after falling 4-1 at home to league-worst Columbus on Thursday night, its second straight loss and third in four games. The Stars outshot the Blue Jackets 37-29, but could only get one shot - Vernon Fiddler's fifth goal of the season - past Steve Mason.

On the bright side for Dallas, goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves in his return after missing 12 games with a groin injury.

Ryder, the Stars' leader with 14 goals, saw his five-game goal streak come to an end in the loss. He'll try to get back on track when he faces Boston for the first time since departing via free agency over the summer.

Ryder totaled 63 goals over three seasons with the Bruins and was particularly strong during last season's championship run, with eight goals and nine assists in 25 playoff games.

"I still know guys on the team and what we went through last year was a big thing," Ryder told the Stars' official website. "It's almost January now and I'm part of this team here. It's just another hockey game and there's definitely going to be a little bit of emotion involved there.

"We're definitely going to want to beat those guys, especially me. But I think they're going to feel the same way about trying to beat us. That's just the way it is but you still play hard and have fun while you're doing it."

The Bruins have three days off following this contest before concluding their trip Wednesday at New Jersey.