Pregame Notes: Bruins vs Islanders – 02/25/21

(Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter: @zcarlone21

Riding high after their dominant win at Lake Tahoe against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Bruins come back to the ice tonight to take on the New York Islanders in their first game since Sunday. David Pastrnak potted his second hat-trick of the season in the 7-3 win from Sunday. The puck drop for tonight’s road contest against the Islanders is scheduled for 7 pm EST.

Shut-Down Defense

The Islanders love to play a defensively-sound game. No matter who Islanders head coach Barry Trotz rolls out on the back end, you know they will shut it down well. That’ll be the big key for the Bruins to get past. In two games against the Islanders this season, the Bruins have been outscored 5-2, resulting in two losses.

The key for the Bruins success is being hard on the forecheck. The Islanders’ defense can make mistakes if the Bruins apply pressure. As for the Bruins defense, they’re expected to have left-handed defenseman Jakub Zboril back in the lineup after missing the last game with an injury. The Bruins will have to make the most of their chances and generate as many high-quality chances as they can find to get past the stout Islanders defense, a defense that is currently allowing the fourth-least amount of goals per game in the league.

Vaakanainen with McAvoy

Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, 22, made his season debut in Sunday’s win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Lake Tahoe, quite an atmosphere to do so. With a couple of pairs shuffling around with a handful of injuries on defense, it’s expected that Vaakanainen will be taking Jeremy Lauzon’s place on the first D-pair with Charlie McAvoy. Lauzon fractured his left hand in his first shift of Sunday’s win.

Vaakanainen spent most of the last game’s win playing with McAvoy, although the Bruins played most of the game with five defensemen. In his season debut, he played 23:28 and notched an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the game. With Lauzon, Kevan Miller, and Matt Grzelcyk expected to miss tonight’s game, Vaakanainen is going to get a great opportunity to prove he can play with the ‘big dogs’ in the NHL.

Striking with the Extra Skater

Against a defense structured like the Islanders, the Bruins will need to cash in any opportunity they get. They’ve scored two goals in two games against the Islanders this season, and they got shut out in one of those games. The Bruins sixth-best power-play percentage league-wide will need to make a difference in this one with any chance they get. They’re going up against the 15th-best penalty kill league-wide.

The Bruins first power-play unit has had a few changing components throughout the season, mainly starting at the top. With David Krejci missing tonight’s game, expect Charlie McAvoy to act as the ‘tip’ of the umbrella. This power play, which has arguably rejuvenated Bruins forward Nick Ritchie, is going to need to do a lot more than just catch momentum if they want to get the two points out of a win past the Islanders. I think it could be a difference-maker in tonight’s contest.

Bruins Projected Lineup

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Coyle – Smith

Bjork – Studnicka – DeBrusk

Frederic – Kuraly – Wagner

Vaakanainen – McAvoy

Zboril – Carlo

Moore – Clifton

Halak

Rask

Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, all signs point to defenseman Jakub Zboril being re-inserted into the lineup after missing one game with an injury. Krejci, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Kase, and Miller are expected to be out with injuries.

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