Pregame Notes: Bruins vs Islanders – 03/09/21

(Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

The Bruins are coming into another game two days after being shut out by the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, 1-0. It was a very disappointing effort for the Bruins as a whole. The Devils and their opponents tonight, the New York Islanders, have given them the toughest time this season, which makes this game a must-win. The puck drop for tonight’s road contest is scheduled for 7 pm EST.

Halak Leads the Charge

Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, Tuukka Rask is dealing with a minor injury that may keep him out of this game. Whether he dresses or not, Halak was always the expected starter. Halak’s last start was March 5th against the Washington Capitals, a 5-1 victory where he only surrendered one goal on 32 shots. Despite the Bruins going 2-3-1 in their last six games, Rask and Halak both have played fairly well for the majority of the games despite the losses.

Halak was in net for the Bruins last game against the Islanders, a 7-2 loss where Halak let up seven goals on 37 shots. The Bruins defense, missing a few key cogs, will need to play stout with Halak being on top of his game for that type of outcome not to happen again. Heading into tonight’s contest, Halak is 5-2-1 this season with a 2.24 GAA, and a .913 save percentage.

Power Play Slumped

Considered one of the most dangerous power plays in the NHL, the Bruins have gone six games without getting a goal with the man advantage. Their last power-play goal came in their win versus the Philadelphia Flyers at Lake Tahoe on February 21st. Since then, the Bruins power play has gone 0/12 in the past six games.

With their top unit carrying the Bruins first line with forward Nick Ritchie and either David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy, or Matt Grzelcyk at the point, there’s no excuse not to have scored a power-play goal since last month. It’s struggling right now and needs to find consistency. Their powerplay went 0/2 in their 7-2 loss to the Islanders last time out, and that won’t fly against a team that is currently in first place in the MassMutual East Division. They’re going to need to capitalize on any chances they get tonight.

DeBrusk Scratched, Pressure on Krejci

Frustrations are beginning to rise for Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk. Constantly shuffling between the second and third lines, the 24-year-old left-handed winger has a total of five points through 17 games this season, with only one goal. Last season, he had 16 goals in 70 games, and he is on pace to hit nowhere near that mark this year. In some games, he shows the energy to try and be productive, while he’s simply invisible in others. Either way, head coach Bruce Cassidy is sending him a message tonight, making him a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

DeBrusk’s most common line-mate, Bruins center David Krejci, has 11 assists in 18 games while not scoring a single goal. Bruins fans are used to Krejci gathering at least 50 points in a full 82-game season, but he hasn’t even been able to score a goal as we near the midway point of the shortened season. With DeBrusk coming out of the lineup, Jack Studnicka is expected to flank Krejci on the right, with Ritchie occupying the left side. Studnicka has proven to be a dynamic, energetic spark for the Bruins, and he’ll be used in an attempt to spark Krejci’s production tonight.

Krejci has been his usual play-making self, especially on the power-play, which gives him a longer leash to get going production-wise. For DeBrusk, it’s not that simple. He needs to find his game, which scored a career-high 27 goals in the 2018-19 season. Tonight, he’ll be watching from the press box, which raises questions about his future with the club, especially if he can’t find his touch after this sitting.

Bruins Projected Lines

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Ritchie – Krejci – Studnicka

Frederic – Coyle – Smith

Bjork – Kuraly – Wagner

Grzelcyk – McAvoy

Zboril – Clifton

Tinordi – Vaakanainen

Halak

Vladar

Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, Rask didn’t travel with the team on for its road trip, but his injury is more “rest-based” than something long-term. Sean Kuraly comes back in on forward for Jake DeBrusk.

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