Pregame Notes: Bruins vs. Rangers – 02/28/21

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

The Bruins are heading into this Sunday manatee game coming off of the second game of what has been an uncharacteristic stretch for the team. They took a defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers 6-2 on Friday night and need a complete team effort to bounce back today. They play the Rangers once again at Madison Square Garden. The puck drop is scheduled for 12 pm EST.

A ‘Stud’ in the Lineup

Surprisingly, the best player from the Bruins ugly loss from Friday night was the young center, Jack Studnicka. The Bruins young gun has been given a chance to play at his natural position at center for the past three games with David Krejci out with an injury, and he has been explosive. He’s been flying around the offensive zone, has had a deluxe of scoring chances in the past few games, and has gotten rewarded with more ice time because of it. Studnicka is finally starting to find his groove.

Even once Krejci does come back, it’s going to be difficult for Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy to keep Studnicka out of the lineup. He’s bound to pot another goal, possibly even today. His energy and spark has given him multiple opportunities to fly around the ice and generate decent chances, and he even got a look with Bruins winger David Pastrnak for portions of Friday night’s loss. It’ll be interesting to see how Cassidy utilizes Studnicka in today’s tilt.

Bounce Back from Rask

Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is expected to handle the entirety of the Bruins weekend against the Rangers, meaning he’ll get the start today after surrendering six goals on 34 shots on Friday night. It was a very uncharactertistic night from Rask, but many of the goals were a result of poor defensive play in front of him, something Cassidy emphasized in the post-game presser.

Following Rask’s loss on Friday, he is now 7-3-1 on the season, with a 2.86 GAA and a .892 save %. Those aren’t bad numbers for the 33-year-old net minder, but he could be much better than his performance two days ago. If he gets the strong play from the young Bruins defense that we’re accustomed to seeing, we’ll see better numbers for Rask following today’s contest.

Better Defense

The Bruins should’ve taken some notes on the Islanders defense after their loss to them on Thursday night, but the Bruins truly need to get back to how dominant they were on the back end prior to these past two losses. They have taken a hit on defense for sure, losing Jeremy Lauzon for at least four weeks, but that shouldn’t be used an excuse. However, defenseman Matt Grzlecyk is aiming for a return sometime in the near future after an extended absence due to injury. He’s doubtful for today’s game, though.

It’s been tough for the Bruins to find consistent play on defense with the amount of injuries they’ve suffered and a constantly changing lineup, but Bruce Cassidy has made it clear that whoever he throws in needs to be up for the challenge, even if you’re a rookie. You’re asking for the opportunity. The Bruins young defense needs to be up for the challenge, play as one cohesive unit, and execute strong play in order to get the win against the Rangers.

Bruins Projected Lineup

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Coyle – Smith

Frederic – Studnicka – DeBrusk

Kuraly – McKegg – Kuhlman

Vaakanainen – McAvoy

Zboril – Carlo

Moore – Clifton

Rask

Halak

Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, Matt Grzelcyk is ‘doubtful’ to return to the lineup after missing time with an injury, but he’s obviously close. Karson Kulman is expected to draw in for Chris Wagner, and Greg McKegg is expected to get his first look in a Bruins jersey, coming in for Anders Bjork. Rask is expected to make his second consecutive start.

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