By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21
The Bruins are heading into one of the most highly anticipated games of the season, the second outdoor game of the strangest season in recent league history. The 2021 Winter Classic, supposed to be played on January 1st, was cancelled with the pandemic’s effect on the season, but the NHL made an extra effort for two outdoors games this season at Lake Tahoe. The Bruins are playing in the second game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm EST.
Injuries Struck at Large
Between the two teams combined, there are expected to be twelve regulars out of the lineups. The big names who are expected to be out for the Flyers include captain Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Scott Laughton, with a handful of others. For the Bruins, they’ll be without defensemen Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, along with forwards Ondrej Kase and David Krejci, the latter of whom got injured in Thursday’s loss to the Devils.
While the Flyers will have a more depleted lineup than the Bruins due to injuries, the Bruins will still have to fare missing three of their top-six regular defensemen, as well as their second-line center. The Bruins recalled forward Jack Studnicka and defenseman Urho Vaakanainen prior to the game. Both could be expected to fill in, along with defensemen Connor Clifton and John Moore. No matter what lineup the Bruins roll out, the Flyers face a multitude of injuries as well, and the Bruins can and will need to take advantage of it to get the win outdoors.
Rask vs. Hart
Flyers goalie Carter Hart, 22, is expected to draw the start for the Flyers, and per head coach Bruce Cassidy, the Bruins are going to battle with Tuukka Rask, 33, in the net. Rask’s last start was a 4-2 loss to the Islanders last Saturday. It’s going to be a goaltending duel throughout.
Rask is currently 6-2-1 on the season, with a 2.51 GAA and a .906 save percentage. Hart is 5-2-3, with a 3.31 GAA and a .902 save percentage. This isn’t the first outdoor game for either goaltender, however, so the big stage and beauty of Lake Tahoe may not affect them as much. Expect the two to be as stable as ever because the Flyers could inch closer to the Bruins in first place in the MassMutual East Division if they get the victory. The Bruins, with a win, would further distance themselves in first place.
While the NHL has never hosted an outdoor game at Lake Tahoe before this weekend, the Bruins and Flyers are no strangers to outdoor hockey. This will be the second time they meet one another outside, the first time being in the 2010 Winter Classic at historic Fenway Park in Boston. The Bruins won that contest over eleven years ago with a goal from former Bruin Marco Sturm in overtime.
This will the fourth time the Bruins have played a game outside, and the fifth time the Flyers have. The Bruins are 2-1 all-time in outdoor games, with victories coming in 2010 against the Flyers, as well as a 4-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame. Prior to this game, however, the Bruins and Flyers did not get a chance to practice outside on Saturday due to the snow accumulation and instead had practice indoors. Sunday’s tilt will be the first time the two teams will set foot on the rink.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Coyle – Smith
Bjork – Studnicka – DeBrusk
Frederic – Kuraly – Wagner
Lauzon – McAvoy
Vaakanainen – Carlo
Moore – Clifton
With multiple new injuries before this game, this lineup is subject to change.