By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Two nights removed from one of the most energetic games of the season this far, the Bruins are back on the ice at home in the TD Garden to take on the New Jersey Devils, a team who has been bombarded with a busy schedule and have struggled as a result, going 1-8-0 in their last nine games.
Injuries Just Keep Coming
In an already shortened season, the Boston Bruins have had to deal with their fair share of injuries as well, especially to the blueline. It seems although the majority of the defensive core has been injured this year with Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Zboril, Miller, and now Brandon Carlo missing time so far.
During Friday’s win over the Washington Capitals, Brandon Carlo took a hard hit along the end boards from Capitals forward Tom Wilson. The hit resulted in Carlo being sent to the hospital via ambulance and according to Bruce Cassidy, is now “week-to-week”. Wilson was subsequently suspended for seven games on the boarding call.
Kevan Miller is expected to resume skating later this week after reports suggest he may have had another setback with his knee. Charlie McAvoy briefly left Friday’s game as well, only to return minutes later. Cassidy clarified that McAvoy received stitched off a collision with Garnet Hathaway.
Can’t Play Down to Opponents
While this narrative may not actually be true, it seems the Boston Bruins don’t play the same level of hockey against opponents lower in the standings. The Devils, 7th in the MassMutual East Division with a 7-11-2 record, have won two of the three games against Boston this season and have claimed a point in each of them.
In a tight division where second and fifth are separated by a mere three points, wins against the teams at the basement are that much more important. Come the end of the season, any point lost can prove to be the deciding factor to either making the playoffs or sitting on the outside looking in.
Grzelcyk/McAvoy Pairing is Dangerous
When fully healthy, the Bruins have played Matt Grzelcyk on the second pairing with Brandon Carlo while played Jeremy Lauzon skates to the left of Charlie McAvoy. However, in the 5-1 win over Washington, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy put Grzelcyk and McAvoy together and it one-hundred-percent paid off.
According to NaturalStatTrick, the duo played 10:39 of 5v5 time against the Caps and finished with some solid stats. They had a 71.43 CF%, led in shots 6-1, outscored them 3-0, had a 79.17 xGF, and out-chanced them 7-2. In addition, McAvoy had two assists on the night (one primary and one secondary) while Grzelcyk had the primary assist on Brad Marchand’s second of the game.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – DeBrusk
Frederic – Coyle – Smith
Bjork/Kuraly – Studnicka – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Zboril – Clifton
Vaakanainen – Tinordi
Tuukka Rask gets the start in goal for the Bruins and Urho Vaakanainen will sub in for the injured Brandon Carlo. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00pm EST.