The last several meetings featuring Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues been physically taxing and closely contested. Even with David Backes now donning the Black and Gold instead of Blue and White, things should be no different at TD Garden tonight when the two teams meet for the first time in 2016-17.
Just how close have these games been? Of the last 18 games between the Bruins and Blues, nine have ended in overtime or a shootout. St. Louis won all nine of those contests that ended in the extra session.
The Bruins and Blues split the two meetings last season with the road team coming out victorious in both contests. The B’s come in riding a three-game winning streak on Causeway Street – something they only did once all of last season – while the Blues are 2-5-1 away from the Scottrade Center.
Looking for four in a row on home ice for the first time since 2014-15, the Bruins will once again be without David Pastrnak for a third straight game due to an upper body injury. Matt Beleskey will move up to the second line with Backes and David Krejci as Ryan Spooner moves from second line wing to third line center with Tim Schaller and Austin Czarnik.
Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 11-7-0 (22 points), Blues 10-6-3 (23 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Riley Nash
Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Ryan Spooner-Austin Czarnik
Sean Kuraly-Dominic Moore-Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles-Joe Morrow
Blues projected lines
Jaden Schwartz-Paul Stastny-David Perron
Robbie Fabbri-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko
Dmitrij Jaskin-Patrik Berglund-Ty Rattie
Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk
Robert Bortuzzo-Colton Parayko
– Of course, the main storyline entering this one is Backes facing his former team for the first time. During his 10-year stint in St. Louis where he served as the team captain from 2011-2016, Backes tallied 460 points (206 goals, 254 assists) and compiled 969 penalty minutes. In five of those seasons, Backes posted seasons of 50 or more points and 100-plus penalty minutes including 2008-09 where he notched career highs in goals (31) and PIM’s (165). For an in-depth look of Backes playing against the Blues, click here.
– As mentioned earlier, Ryan Spooner will move back to center after spending most of the early portion of the season at wing. With Matt Beleskey playing well as of late and Claude Julien hoping to see some versatility from Spooner, this shouldn’t be looked at as a demotion but rather an opportunity. After all, a line of Spooner, Austin Czarnik and Tim Schaller looks pretty good especially considering all the speed the trio can possess. With two physical teams going at it, this trio might bring a fresh perspective in this one.
– In addition to Pastrnak’s status and the aforementioned line changes, the Bruins got some good news in the form of Frank Vatrano skating for the first time since suffering a foot injury during an off-ice training camp session. The former UMass Minuteman hit the ice after the Bruins finished their pregame preparations for tonight. Defenseman Kevan Miller also skated following the morning skate and is inching closer to returning from a shoulder injury. Goaltender Anton Khudobin, meanwhile, will make another start for Providence and a decision on his status going forward will be made after Wednesday’s game in Rochester.