Fresh off a shaky 5-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils where they nearly blew a 4-0 lead, the Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins return to the ice nearly 24 hours later when they welcome the New York Islanders to the TD Garden Thursday night. The Black and Gold can clinch a playoff berth with just one point or a win from the Florida Panthers against the Winnipeg Jets.
With Brad Marchand presumably out after taking a vicious – and suspendable – hit from Anton Volchenkov, the Bruins will look to sweep the season series against a surprising Islanders squad that is currently surprising many fans and pundits alike. The Isles come in with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 and sit in a three-way tie for sixth with their in-state rival New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference standings.
While Marchand is being evaluated by team doctors today, the Bruins got some good news on the injury front. Patrice Bergeron skated during the team’s optional morning skate in hopes of recovering from his fourth concussion since 2007, while Adam McQuaid, who’s been sidelined since March 20th with a strained shoulder, is likely to return to the lineup according to head coach Claude Julien.
After the jump, lineups, storylines, linkage and tweets of interest
Gametime: 7 pm
Location: TD Garden
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins (26-9-4, 56 points), Islanders (20-16-4, 44 points)
Bruins projected lines
Lineups subject to change
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Jaromir Jagr-Gregory Campbell-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Chris Kelly-Kaspars Daugivans
Jordan Caron-Rich Peverley-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg-Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Islanders projected lines
Matt Moulson-John Tavares-Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey-Frans Nielsen-Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner-Keith Aucoin-Colin McDonald
Jesse Joensuu-Casey Cizikas-Matt Martin
Thomas Hickey-Lubomir Visnovsky
Andrew MacDonald-Travis Hamonic
Mark Streit-Radek Martinek
Bruins to watch
While he’s seen his share of struggles, Rich Peverley is red-hot over the last two games recording a goal and three assists in that span. Not bad for a guy who was a healthy scratch last month against the Sens, and not bad for someone who was bumped down to the fourth line in Julien’s recent line changes.
“I think it’s been [about] getting chances every game and sometimes the points come and sometimes they don’t,” Peverley said about his 2013 campaign. “If you’re doing that then hopefully production will come.”
The production has been coming for Peverley and Julien certainly notices that.
“I think he’s been skating more. He didn’t look like he wanted the puck, and now he’s willing to take it and carry it,” said the Bruins bench boss. “He’s playing with more energy and when he has more energy he’s skating better. Rich [Peverley] is a good player when he’s skating hard and he’s not second to the puck and he’s not second in the areas where he should be. So I think that part of his game is improved.”
Islanders to watch
It looks like John Tavares is finally turning the corner. Over his last five games, the former No. 1 overall pick has six points (three goals, three assists) and is a plus-three. It’s safe to say that the Bruins D will need to sure up and contain the league’s third leading scorer (24 goals) and fellow linemate Matt Moulson, who’s been a Bruins killer his entire career with 14 points in 14 career games against the Black and Gold
New England Hockey Journal’s Jesse Connolly breaks down last night’s win over the Devils.
The Days of Y’Orr crew reaches out to an Astrologist to get her predictions on how the Bruins, Habs and Penguins will fare the rest of the way.
Lighthouse Hockey says tonight’s matchup is a big test for the Isles.
With the Isles coming together and winning as a team, Islanders Point Blank (via SNY) says the team controls their own destiny as a result
Tweets of interest
This may not be the prettiest sight to see, but here’s Zdeno Chara donning an Islanders jersey during their “Gorton’s Fisherman” days in the late 1990′s (via Greg Ezell of DOY).
— PezDOY (@PezDOY) April 11, 2013
And a shameless plug: here’s a snapshot of Bergy skating at the Garden this morning.
— Bruins Daily (@BruinsDaily) April 11, 2013