By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter! @zcarlone21
The Bruins are set to face off against the Seattle Kraken for the first time in the franchise’s history tonight after taking a beating in their last game against the Dallas Stars. The Bruins lost to the Stars by a score of 6-1 on Sunday night, with the lone Bruins goal coming from Craig Smith. It was an abysmal effort by the team in front of goaltender Linus Ullmark, who ended up being pulled and replaced by Jeremy Swayman midway through the night.
The Bruins have played as inconsistent as ever over their last four games, going 1-2-1 while surrendering 16 goals in that span. The calendar has flipped the February, and with that comes hopefully a better month overall for the Bruins. The puck drop for tonight’s game against the Kraken at TD Garden is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.
Bruins center Erik Haula was placed on the NHL’s COVID-Protocol list just a few hours before the Bruins loss to the Stars on Sunday night, meaning he’ll remain out for tonight’s game. For Sunday’s game, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy shifted David Pastrnak back up the first line to play with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand while also promoting Charlie Coyle to play center on the second line between wingers Taylor Hall and Craig Smith.
The experiment didn’t work, as the two lines couldn’t generate much offensively after not having played with each other in several weeks. Instead of Coyle, versatile left-handed center, Tomas Nosek is expected to skate between Hall and Pastrnak tonight to start the game.
So far this season, Nosek has been an anchor on the team’s second penalty-killing unit. He’s collected three goals and nine points thus far in his first season with the black and gold. The 29-year-old has formed great chemistry with wingers Curtis Lazar and Anton Blidh on the fourth line, but his versatile playing style, along with his ability to make precise passes, earns him the chance to play with two offensive-minded wingers.
Ullmark Bounce Back
Cassidy is turning towards 28-year-old goaltender Linus Ullmark to start tonight’s game. Ullmark is coming off a tough showing from Sunday night, surrendering four goals on 15 shots. The Kraken team is averaging 2.61 goals per game and 28.3 shots per game, both near the basement of the league standings in both categories. Their 14-26-4 record in their inaugural season holds onto 30th in the league-wide standings.
Their offense is weak enough to the point where this is a great opportunity for the Bruins defense to regroup and contain a vulnerable offense, especially after surrendering six goals to the Stars last time out. A big effort in front of Ullmark after a failed attempt on Sunday night should help the goaltender immensely. Thus far this season, Ullmark holds a 15-6-1 record, along with a 2.66 GAA and a .912 save percentage.
Former Bruins forwards Karson Kuhlman and Ryan Donato and former Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon will get the chance to play against their former team tonight, as the first-year members of the Kraken are slated to skate in their first game against some former teammates. Lauzon and Donato were selected by the NHL’s 32nd franchise in the Expansion Draft, and Kuhlman was claimed by the Kraken off of waivers after the Bruins sent him down just over a week ago. Kuhlman, unfortunately, left the Kraken’s last game against the New York Rangers with an apparent upper-body injury, making his availability for tonight in question.
Lauzon, however, has played mediocre at best this season for his new club, collecting one goal and five points in 35 games this season, along with a +/- of -12. Donato, who played for the Bruins between 2017-19, has potted nine goals and 16 points so far this season. Also making his return to a familiar environment tonight is Kraken assistant coach Jay Leach, who served as the head coach of the AHL’s Providence Bruins for the last four seasons.