By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Welcome back, Boston Bruins fans. After a shorter off-season, the Bruins are back on the ice for their first regular season game of the new 2019-2020 campaign. Up first, the Dallas Stars in game one of a four-game road trip to begin the year.
Last season, the Stars finished with a record of 43-32-7 – good for 93 points in the Central division standings. The finish put them in the first Wild Card position, earning them a battle with the Nashville Predators in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dallas committed one of the biggest upsets in the first-round, eliminating the Predators in six games. In the second-round, the Stars fell short in a battle with the St. Louis Blues – who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
BOS: Tuukka Rask 27-13-5 2.34 GAA .922 SV% in 2018-19
DAL: Ben Bishop 27-15-2 1.98 GAA .934 SV% in 2018-19
In Boston’s last preseason game, the team dominated the Chicago Blackhawks by a final score of 8-2. In that game, forward David Pastrnak had himself a night – scoring a hat-trick and adding an assist as well. In only two preseason games, Pastrnak scored three goals and three assists with a 60% shooting percentage. Pastrnak will be looking to start the regular season off following his 81-point performance last season.
Miro Heiskanen played in three preseason games for the Stars, who went 4-3-0 in the seven games. The 20-year-old defenceman tallied three assists in the three games, scoring the most points on the Dallas team during the preseason contests. Last season, Heiskanen played in all 82 games for the Stars, totaling 12-21-33 numbers in his rookie campaign.
In the same game against the Blackhawks, Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk had a very similar night – scoring a hat-trick of his own and adding an assist just as his teammate did. DeBrusk finished second on Boston with 4-1-5 totals in four preseason games. DeBrusk nearly hit the 30-goal mark in ’18/’19 and it is very possible that he hits the milestone this upcoming year.
Ben Bishop is the number one goaltender over in Dallas and after his second-place finish in the Vezina Trophy standings, he is looking to continue his play in net heading into this year. However, in the three preseason games he started in, the 32-year-old netminder went 1-1-0 with a .911 SV% and a 2.50 GAA. Not amazing numbers but expect him to be on his game for opening night hockey.
Brett Ritchie was signed during the Free Agency period of the NHL off-season by the Bruins, but his role on the team is still up in the air regarding where exactly he fits in. During yesterday’s practice, Ritchie played on the fourth-line right-wing, but was interchanged with Par Lindholm. Regardless, Ritchie only put up one assist in four preseason games for the Bruins so it is possible that he is the healthy scratch tonight.
- F Brad Marchand is three assists away (297) from 300 career NHL assists
- F Jamie Benn is two assists away (368) from passing Bobby Smith (369) for 5th-most assists in Stars history
- F Jamie Benn is three points away (649) from passing Dino Ciccarelli (651) for 4th-most points in Stars history
- F Jamie Benn is one even-strength goal away (195) from passing Brian Bellow (195) for sole possession of 4th-most even-strength goals in Stars history
Bruins vs Stars Outlook
Finally, the Bruins are back on the ice for a regular season game. A lot of questions still remain regarding where players will play in the lineup for Boston and there will be questions that need to be answered about production and who can battle to hold onto their spot.
Dallas will be looking to start their campaign on home-ice with a big win over the defending Eastern Conference Champions tonight. The Stars added former San Jose Sharks veteran forward Joe Pavelski in free agency, signing the 35-year-old to a two-year contract worth an average of $7 million per season. Below are the expected lines for Dallas tonight.
For the Bruins, not much will change from their Stanley Cup run back in June. Aside from the departures of Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari, the Bruins have kept the same roster intact. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak will man the first-line to start with Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, and Karson Kuhlman rounding out the top-six.
Further down the lineup is Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and most likely veteran forward David Backes on the right side. The fourth-line right now consists of Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly and either Par Lindholm or Brett Ritchie. Whatever Head Coach Bruce Cassidy decides may fall on today’s pre-game practice.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30pm EST from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. It’s opening night, folks. Get ready.