By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter: @zcarlone21
The Bruins did earn a win in their last time out on the ice on Sunday night, but it wasn’t a well-deserved win by any means. The Bruins played sloppy for much of the contest against the Vancouver Canucks, but a solid third-period push by Bruins forward Brad Marchand forced a Vancouver collapse late in the third. The Bruins won the game 3-2 with goals coming from Anton Blidh, Marchand, and David Pastrnak. Marchand set up Pastrnak’s game-winning goal with just under four minutes left in regulation. The Bruins face off against an Atlantic Division foe, the Detroit Red Wings, on home ice tonight. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm EST.
The following week of Bruins hockey just got that much more difficult. Marchand was suspended by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for three games following a slew-footing incident with Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Sunday’s win. It’s a bit of a hefty price to pay, as the incident seemed to be accidental, and the league hasn’t disciplined Marchand since 2018. Either way, it’s a massive loss for the lineup, as Marchand is scheduled to miss tonight’s game along with games against the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning later in the week.
Throughout the season, Marchand has elevated the play of his teammates around him. It was highly evident during Sunday’s win, making this loss even more defeating. In 18 games this season, the 33-year-old winger has nine goals and 24 points. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is losing his best wingman, making the experiment for head coach Bruce Cassidy that much more interesting. I’d expect wingers Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, and even Nick Foligno to get looks on the first line with Bergeron in Marchand’s absence.
Ullmark Stands Tall
Cassidy is turning back to goaltender Linus Ullmark after the 28-year-old earned his fifth victory of the season in Sunday night’s contest. Ullmark started the game coughing up questionable bounces, especially in the crease, but later found steady control between the pipes. By the end of the night, Ullmark made an impressive 36 saves on 38 shots. He surrendered one power-play goal to Canucks forward Tanner Pearson early in the first in an ugly scrum out front.
With Sunday’s victory in the rear-view, no. 35 now holds a 5-3-0 record in his first batch of games with the Bruins. He’s contained a 2.76 GAA, as well as a .914 save percentage. His numbers improved after Sunday’s win, facing a high volume of chances from the Canucks, and he’ll have another test just two days later. However, the Red Wings are averaging 29.6 shots per game, suitable for 23rd-best league-wide.
In Sunday’s win, Bruins forward Anton Blidh, who played his best game of the season, also left the game with an upper-body injury. He scored the first Bruins goal, flinging the puck on the net on an aggressive cut to the inside of the Canucks defenders. It’s unfortunate news for the black and gold, as Blidh has finally found a consistent home on the fourth line. He’s stuck around the organization for many years but is finally proving to be an effective bottom-six forward, something the Bruins have lacked for much of the season.
Blidh scored his first goal of the year on Sunday night, giving him three points total this season. The 26-year-old winger has only played in 47 NHL games in his career, collecting three goals and six points total. Cassidy and the Bruins are hopeful Blidh can return soon and hopefully boost those numbers a bit with his strong play as of late. In his place, forward Jake DeBrusk is expected to be re-inserted into the lineup after being a healthy scratch during Sunday’s win.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Hall – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Foligno – Coyle – Smith
Nosek – Frederic – Kuhlman
DeBrusk – Haula – Lazar
Forbort – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Reilly – Zboril
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