At this time last week, the Bruins were barely hanging on to the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Entering Thursday’s game with the Stars, the B’s have a little bit of breathing room with a three-point lead over the Lightning and only trail the Maple Leafs by a single point for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Still, there’s little room for error as the Bruins come in winners of two straight. Tonight, they face a Stars team that is starting to make their tee-time reservations for mid-April.
Goals weren’t hard to come by for the Black and Gold in their 6-3 win over the Stars back on February 26th. After putting up a four-spot against a skilled Predators blue-line, the Bruins will look to pick up right where they left off against a Dallas squad that ranks 27th in goals against (240) and average goals allowed per game (3.16) and dead last on the penalty kill (74%).
Though Bruce Cassidy and company have done well in taking care of business against bottom-feeding teams, the last thing they need tonight is a major step back as they approach a six-game-in-ten-day stretch to close out the regular season.
Gametime: 7:30 pm
TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 40-30-6 (86 points), Stars 31-34-11 (73 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Drew Stafford-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Riley Nash-Dominic Moore-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles-Kevan Miller
Stars projected lines
Jamie Benn-Cody Eakin-Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie-Tyler Seguin-Brett Ritchie
Jason Dickinson-Radek Faska-Devin Shore
Curtis McKenzie-Adam Cracknell-Jason Spezza
Esa Lindell-John Klinkberg
Patrick Nemeth-Greg Pateryn
Dan Hamhuis-Stephen Johns
– Over the past two games, the Bruins have been getting contributions from everyone but the third line. Tonight, there will be a change to that trio as Matt Beleskey, who missed the Islanders game due to the birth of his new baby girl and then was scratched Tuesday night, will take Frank Vatrano’s spot in the lineup. The former UMass-Amherst standout is deemed day-to-day with an upper body injury, but getting some rest could be a blessing in disguise for Vatrano. The second-year Bruin has been held scoreless in his last 14 games.
– Another trend that the Bruins have developed over the past two games is blocking shots. Against the Predators, the Black and Gold disrupted the shooting lanes – particularly Adam McQuaid – and did a good job limiting the Preds to one and dones. From McQuaid to David Pastrnak, the Bruins bought in to the defensive gameplan and blocked 24 shots against the Preds. Against the skillset of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and a reasonable Dallas offense, the Bruins will look to continue their shot blocking trend in their own end. Tuukka Rask would certainly appreciate that.