Pregame Notes: Bruins vs Sabres – 04/20/21

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter: @zcarlone21

An impressive run for the Bruins continues tonight with their first road game since April 10th after five straight at TD Garden. They’re coming off of a 6-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon, a game that saw forward Brad Marchand reach the 700th career point plateau. The Bruins were fired up for their fourth straight win on Sunday and hope to keep it going tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. The puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST.

Grzelcyk Is a Go

Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is expected to return to the lineup tonight after being out with an injury since April 10th. The left-handed Massachusetts native has been limited to just 25 games so far this season due to various injuries, but when he’s been in the lineup, he’s been noticeable. He’s collected 13 points this season and has had the luxury of playing with one of Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo for most of the year. He also plays a huge role on the team’s powerplay.

It’ll be interesting to see the dynamic between Grzelcyk and fellow left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly, as this is Grzelcyk’s first look at the ice since before the NHL Trade Deadline. Reilly was acquired from the Ottawa Senators before the deadline and has been offensively explosive for the Bruins on the back end. His transition game has been smooth and fluid, and with Grzelcyk back in the mix, they could form a dangerous one-two punch on the left side.

Second Line Fire

The promotion of a streaking Craig Smith combined with the deadline acquisition of Taylor Hall has made center David Krejci a very happy man. All three are enjoying their best point runs of the season, and a game against a much weaker competition may have them continuing their streaks. Krejci has more goals in the four games since acquiring Hall than he’s had in the 35 games prior.

As for Hall and Smith, both have found a permanent home in the Bruins top-six. It only took three games in a black and gold sweater for Hall to match his goal total during his time with the Sabres (37 games), and he has three points in four games since being acquired. Craig Smith has been on the most impressive run of the three linemates, collecting 18 points in his recent 16 games with the Bruins. The second line is heating up at the perfect time as the team preps for a playoff push.

Rask Starts

Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, goaltender Tuukka Rask will get the nod to start in goal. Jaroslav Halak, who has spent the last two weeks on the COVID Protocol list, traveled with the team to Buffalo and is nearing a hopeful return to the crease. That return remains hopeful due to the emergence of Jeremy Swayman, who has played like a true NHL-caliber goalie since being called up from the Providence Bruins a few weeks ago. Halak will need to regain his usual form for a full call back to backup duties behind Rask.

Rask has been hampered with injuries on the season but still holds a 10-4-2 record through 17 starts. He has a 2.35 GAA, and a .910 save percentage. With the Bruins defense stronger and more mobile with the return of Grzelcyk, tonight could be another big stat night for Rask as long as the team plays well in front of him. This is the first of three straight games in four days against the Sabres, so Rask certainly won’t be the only one getting called upon for the starting role.

Bruins Projected Lineup

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Hall – Krejci – Smith

Ritchie – Coyle – DeBrusk

Kuraly – Lazar – Wagner

Grzelcyk – McAvoy

Reilly – Clifton

Lauzon – Zboril

Rask

Swayman

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