After a long off-season, the Boston Bruins are finally back on TD Garden ice. On Thursday, the Bruins host the Winnipeg Jets in the first game of their 2015-16 campaign.
Looking to return to the playoffs after a year absence, a lot of eyes will be on the new-look Bruins. With Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton and Reilly Smith no longer in town, replaced by Matt Beleskey, Matt Irwin and Jimmy Hayes, the Bruins will look much different than they did a season ago.
After earning a wildcard berth in the playoffs last season, the Jets will look to start 2015-16 off on the right foot as they look to build on a successful 2014-15 season.
Records: Boston 0-0 0pts Winnipeg 0-0 0pts
TV/Radio: Nesn/98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron- Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes-Ryan Spooner-Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly-Joonas Kemppainen-Zac Rinaldo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow- Kevan Miller
Matt Irwin-Zach Trotman
Injured: Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg
Jets projected lines:
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault-Mark Scheifele-Nikolaj Ehlers
Alex Burmistrov-Adam Lowry-Drew Stafford
Nicolas Petan-Andrew Copp-Chris Thorburn
Dustin Byfuglien-Jacob Trouba
Tobias Enstrom-Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart-Ben Chiarot
Matchup to watch: Bruins top line vs. Jets top defensive pair
There are some pretty good top defensive pairs in hockey; the Jets have one of those. Byfuglien and Trouba are two of the best at their position and will make things extremely difficult for Bergeron and his linemates. In two games against the Jets last season, Marchand, Bergeron and Eriksson combined for just one point (both against backup goalie Michael Hutchinson)
Both Byfuglien and Trouba are big, heavy defensemen, so battling in the corners won’t be easy for the Bruins’ top trio. If Bergeron and company are looking to find success tonight, they will need to use their skill and speed to create space and separate themselves from Winnipeg’s top defense pair.
Storyline to watch: Bruins defense without Chara
On Tuesday, Chara joined his teammates for practice, the first time skating with them since injuring himself in a preseason game against the New York Rangers on September 24. Chara skated alongside newcomer Colin Miller during today’s morning skate. But head coach Claude Julien deemed Chara “out” when he met the media after the skate. Already without Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins blue-line just took another hit–a giant one.
It’s expected that Zach Trotman will slide into the lineup to replace Chara and find himself slotted on the Bruins’ third defensive pairing. Julien wouldn’t rule Chara out for Saturday’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens as Julien says that the Bruins captain is “progressing and getting better each day.”
Even with Chara in the lineup, the Bruins blue-line was set to face a lot of pressure, now without their captain in the lineup the pressure will increase. With a mix of veterans and youngsters, it will be very interesting to see how the Bruins defense responds. A solid night at TD Garden for Boston’s blue-liners could be just the confidence booster they need to start things off the way they want to.