KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Pettersson always makes point
Held to a secondary assist Thursday, Elias Pettersson still has 17 points (10-7) and leads the Calder Trophy points race. More importantly, the Swedish centre has embraced a three-zone awareness to complement his underrated skating, precise playmaking and superlative shot. And his we-not-me mantra is infectious.
So, what if he doesn’t score? “It’s good because everybody is bringing offence and everyone feels good about that and is gaining confidence,” Pettersson said Friday. “I had some chances (in Boston), but I’d rather win.”
2. Dahlin will be worth watching
Rasmus Dahlin, the first-overall pick in the 2018 draft, is acclimating to the NHL as a third-pairing defenceman. His five points (1-4) in 16 games don’t tell the true story.
“He’s good defensively but sometimes he plays like a forward with his stickhandling,” said Pettersson, who played with Dahlin at the world juniors.
3. Eriksson turning back clock?
Loui Eriksson got to the net on his first goal Thursday in Boston — it started with a Markus Granlund chance off a turnover and an Erik Gudbranson shot — before the Swede backhanded a rebound home. He then went one better by tipping a Ben Hutton power-play point shot down. He also had a team-high three take-aways.
4. Can defence remain offensive?
Gudbranson has points in four straight games (1-4) and his six points are already higher than last season. Hutton had two points Thursday (1-1) and his six points (4-2) have already equalled 201718. Both defencemen are skating better, are more confident and jumping up into the play.