By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter! @zcarlone21
The Bruins collected no points in the standings after a devastating 1-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. It was a true defensive battle, but nobody on the Bruins could step up and match Penguins forward Jake Guentzel’s lone goal for his team. The Bruins need to garner some points with the playoffs quickly approaching as they’re sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. The puck drop for tonight’s rematch against the Penguins is scheduled for 7 pm EST.
Nothing from Bottom-Six
While the top two lines have seen a lot of success production-wise since the two trades general manager Don Sweeney made at the deadline; the bottom-six hasn’t. The third line, specifically, has seen their driest spell of the season over the last batch of games. They haven’t been able to support the top-six in any fashion, and it’s led to line shuffling and questioning within the bottom-six for head coach Bruce Cassidy heading into tonight’s game.
During Sunday’s loss, Cassidy swapped the spots occupied by Nick Ritchie and Curtis Lazar, ultimately demoting Ritchie while promoting Lazar to play with Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk. It didn’t do much. The bottom-six needs a true wake-up call, as they haven’t produced much of anything as of late. Coyle’s last goal came on February 28th, Ritchie has five goals since February 26th, and DeBrusk has four goals in 34 games this season. This entire group needs to pick up the slack and quickly.
Bruins forward Trent Frederic, who last played on April 6th, is expected to return to the lineup tonight on the fourth line. He had been dealing with a non-COVID-related illness and been out of the lineup because of it. As head coach Bruce Cassidy is shaking up the bottom-six forward group, look for Frederic to provide a much-needed spark on the fourth line as well as the rest of the Bruins forward group.
In 36 games this season, the 23-year-old has four goals and five points to go along with 55 penalty minutes. The Penguins are a deep and dangerous team dealing with injuries to the forward group of their own. Most notably, Evgeni Malkin has been out for quite some time after sustaining a hit from Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi in a previous contest. Frederic is going to need to provide the bottom six with a wake-up call. He might need to even throw a few bodies around in order to get his team going after a scoreless loss on Sunday.
Rask Gets the Nod
It’s ‘Tuukka Time’ for the Bruins tonight. After a strong performance from 22-year-old Jeremy Swayman on Sunday, goaltender Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes tonight. Rask’s most recent start was on April 23rd against the Buffalo Sabres, a game where he surrendered four goals on 28 shots and got swapped with Jaroslav Halak in the third. Even though the result of that game wasn’t entirely his fault, Rask is going to need a better performance tonight against one of the best teams in the MassMutual East Division.
On the season, Rask has a 11-4-2 record, with a 2.36 GAA and a .913 save percentage. While dealing with various injuries all season, Rask has still been stable and is still the Bruins go-to in the net. Swayman has impressed in his first seven contests, and Halak is also still in the mix, but Rask needs to return to his suitable form tonight as the team gears up for a playoff push heading into May. No. 40 is the man the Bruins want between the pipes for a big bounce-back game like this one.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Hall – Krejci – Smith
Ritchie – Kuraly – Coyle
Frederic – Lazar – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Reilly – Miller
Lauzon – Clifton