BOSTON — Live from the rafters of the TD Garden, where the Boston Bruins look to clinch the Northeast Division as they take on former teammates Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Head coach Claude Julien confirmed that Tuukka Rask — 10-13-2, .918 save-percentage, 2.69 goals-against average this season — will be in net for the B’s this afternoon.
Julien also noted in his pregame briefing, roughly 20 minutes ago, that defenseman “Sheriff” Shane Hnidy will make his long-awaited debut today.
“He’s got lots of experience, but here’s a guy coming in late in the season who hasn’t played at all,” Julien said of Hnidy. “We brought him here to give us depth in the back-end and at one point you’ve got to see him play, and give him the opportunity to get in there, and this afternoon is probably a good time.”
As for the lineup this afternoon, Julien said that defnseman Steven Kampfer is “Out for sure”; No. 55 Johnny Boychuk will be in the pregame warm-ups; and Shawn Thonton (stitches) has yet to be cleared to play by the medical staff.
Today, the TD Garden welcomes back Wheeler and Stuart, who were both traded to Atlanta on Feb. 28 — the NHL’s trade deadline.
“They were good players for us,” said Julien. “Stewie [Stuart] is a guy I’m, going to tell you right now, to play against him is never easy because he plays hard and it’s not fun to go in those corners it’s not fun to be around the net with him, and that’s his strength.
“And Wheels’ [Wheeler] speed, he always had good speed been great on the forecheck,” Julien added. “Our guys have practiced against them enough they should be able to react.”
NESN’s annual Seventh Player Award will be handed-out prior to the puck drop, shortly after 1:00 p.m. EST