( Photo credit: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images )

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

The Bruins caught a glimpse of tough Western Conference competition when they fell to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night. The Bruins lost by a score of 5-3 with goaltender Tuukka Rask surrendering five goals on 27 shots. He hasn’t returned to his normal form just yet and it was apparent in Monday’s loss. To level out the blame, the Bruins offense didn’t produce enough quality chances to give the Bruins much of a chance against a Ducks team that capitalized on many of their chances. The road doesn’t get any easier tonight as the Bruins are in Colorado to face off against the team 2nd in the league standings with 61 points. The puck drop for tonight’s road game against the Avalanche is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST.

Fourth Line Reunites

With 34-year-old forward Nick Foligno exiting Monday’s contest with an injury not to return, it looks like the fourth line will look a bit different for the time being. That difference has resulted in not only Foligno not joining the team on their road trip out West but also the return from Anton Blidh. Blidh sat out the last two games due to an injury he sustained on January 20th against the Washington Capitals. Foligno had a game to forget on Monday and ultimately hasn’t panned out as a noticeable forward the Bruins were hoping for when they signed him in the offseason, but Blidh has been impressive in a bottom-six role and his return should only strengthen the line’s chemistry.

On the season, Blidh already has career-highs of two goals and eight points through 20 games. The 26-year-old winger has spent the last seven seasons battling for a spot with the Providence Bruins of the AHL but he’s found a home in Boston. His fourth line presence strings together a surprisingly dominant bottom line along with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar. Nosek is at the halfway point of reaching his career-high 18 points set back in the 2020-21 season while Lazar is two goals away from shattering his career-high of five.

Ullmark Stands in Net

After a shaky performance from Rask in Monday night’s loss, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is giving the net back to goaltender Linus Ullmark for tonight’s game. Ullmark has been impressive despite Rask’s return and Jeremy Swayman’s demotion, having won 11 of his last 13 starts dating back to November 20th. Like Rask, the beginning of the season showed a slow start for Ullmark’s performance, but he also gives the Bruins the best chance to defeat the Avalanche tonight, a team averaging a league-high 4.10 goals per game. Everything tonight is going to be meaningful for the Bruins tonight, equally on both sides of the puck, but they need to do their best to help Ullmark and slow the league’s best offense.

Ullmark owns a 14-5-0 record in his first season with the black and gold while also holding a 2.55 GAA and a .915 save percentage. Those are quality numbers considering the worrisome start no. 35 began the 2021-22 campaign with, and he’ll look to strengthen them tonight. If he doesn’t surrender too many goals, his numbers could definitely rise facing the 34.9 shots on goal that the Avalanche are averaging per game this season.

Nice Serving of Pasta

Being brought down to the second line to play with Erik Haula and Taylor Hall has only brought great things for no. 88. David Pastrnak is having himself a stretch of great hockey throughout the month of January and he’s helping the Bruins significantly more now than he had earlier in the season. The right-handed forward potted the game-winning goal in Saturday’s victory against the Winnipeg Jets and got on the scoresheet in Monday’s loss as well. ‘Pasta’ is riding a four-game goal streak along with a six-game point streak. Having scored 12 goals since the calendar flipped from 2021 to 2022, Pastrnak will look to continue his hot scoring streak tonight.

Bruins Projected Lineup

Marchand – Bergeron – Smith

Hall – Haula – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Coyle – Steen

Blidh – Nosek – Lazar

Vaakanainen – McAvoy

Reilly – Carlo

Forbort – Clifton