Pregame Notes: Bruins vs Sabres – 04/13/21

(Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

Following the Bruins active trade deadline yesterday in lieu of an 8-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday, the Bruins are back in action tonight. Coming in with a newly garnished forward and defense group thanks to general manager Don Sweeney, the Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres tonight at TD Garden with some new faces. The puck drop for their third meeting against one another is scheduled for 7 pm EST.

Newcomers Debut

The Bruins made two trades ahead of the deadline yesterday and the three players they received in those deals are expected to make their debuts tonight. Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar drove to Boston yesterday to avoid quarantine upon arrival and are expected to be in the lineup tonight, making their Bruins debuts against their former team. Mike Reilly, a defenseman arriving from Ottawa, is also expected to make his debut.

Hall is expected to line up on the left side with David Krejci in the middle and Craig Smith at right wing on the second line. David Pastrnak is expected to move back up to the first line, and the potential for the newly-formed Hall – Krejci duo is scary. They won’t be receiving the poor matchups from opposing defenses the first line gets most nights, and they could excel with quickly-formed chemistry. Lazar adds some gritty depth to the bottom-six, and Reilly will surely stabilize the left side of the Bruins injury-prone defense.

McAvoy Likely Returns

Head coach Bruce Cassidy announced that right-handed defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who has been out since April 5th, is a game-time decision to return from injury tonight. McAvoy was injured in their April 5th game against the Philadelphia Flyers, and since then, the Bruins have gone 2-2-0. The Bruins defense was exposed on Sunday night by the Washington Capitals, giving up eight goals while missing McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, and Kevan Miller, who are all dealing with injuries.

If McAvoy does return tonight, the Bruins defense gets a ton of stability back with their number one guy’s returning. All of the points matter right now, with the Bruins holding on to the fourth and final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division, and a McAvoy return would ensure a better chance to garner two points on any given night. On the season, McAvoy has 22 points in 35 games, and he has a better chance to beat his previous career-high of 32 if he returns with a bang tonight.

Goaltending Bounce-Back

While Dan Vladar got the start in goal against the Washington Capitals on Sunday and surrendered eight goals on 33 shots, he really got hung out to dry by his defense. The collapse wasn’t his fault, and tonight the Bruins will turn back to Jeremy Swayman to start in goal. According to Bruce Cassidy, goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has been sidelined with an injury of his own, is nearing a return and is aiming for that return Thursday night against the New York Islanders.

Swayman, while playing slightly more aggressively compared to the other Bruins goalies in the crease, has looked very cool and calm in his first batch of NHL games. He’s given the Bruins a chance to win every game, and tonight he’ll look to gain his confidence back and get back in the win column against a Sabres team that only has ten wins so far this season. In his last start against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 10th, Swayman let up three goals on 23 shots in a losing effort. In his first few starts with the big club, he is 2-1-0 with a 2.35 GAA and a .929 save percentage.

Bruins Projected Lines

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Hall – Krejci – Smith

Ritchie – Coyle – DeBrusk

Kuraly – Lazar – Wagner

Lauzon – McAvoy

Reilly – Kampfer

Tinordi – Miller

Swayman

Vladar

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