No rest for the wary with four games remaining.
Less than 24 hours after their 5-2 win over the Panthers, the Bruins head to Chicago for an early afternoon game – and late morning Windy City time – against a Blackhawks team that has already clinched the top spot in the Western Conference.
Interim coach Bruce Cassidy and company received some help following their win over the Panthers. Even with the Maple Leafs edging out the Red Wings, the Habs overtime win over the Lightning gave the Bruins a four-point advantage over Tampa for the final wild card spot, while the Senators and Hurricanes both fell in regulation to the Jets and Stars, respectively. In addition to their four-point lead over the Bolts, the B’s sit one point behind the Leafs and Sens, who are tied for second place in the Atlantic Division.
After tonight, the Bruins return to TD Garden for the final three games of the regular season. They’ll also be doing some scoreboard watching when all is said and done in Chicago as the Lightning face off against the Stars – with both teams also playing their second game in as many nights – and the Islanders, who sit six points in back of the B’s, head to Buffalo. If the chips fall accordingly, the Black and Gold could be playing for a playoff spot when they host the Bolts on Tuesday night.
Gametime: 12:30 pm
TV/Radio: NBC/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 42-30-6 (90 points), Blackhawks 50-21-7 (107 points)
Location: United Center
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Drew Stafford-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-Sean Kuraly
Riley Nash-Dominic Moore-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller-Kevan Miller
Blackhawks projected lines
Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Tanner Kero-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
John Hayden-Dennis Rasmussen-Tomas Jurco
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk
– With Jimmy Hayes likely out of the lineup tonight, the Bruins recalled Sean Kuraly from Providence on an emergency basis. The former Miami RedHawk, who appeared in five games earlier this season with the Black and Gold, will slot into Hayes’ right wing spot on the third line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. With a rotating door that includes Hayes, Beleskey and on occasion Drew Stafford, the third line has struggled with consistency over the past few weeks. With Hayes out and Frank Vatrano day to day with an upper-body injury, Cassidy and the coaching staff are hoping that some new blood can at least give the B’s third line a shot in the arm this afternoon.
– In probably the least shocking development of the week, Anton Khudobin will get the nod this afternoon in place of Tuukka Rask. The Bruins’ backup has won each of his last five starts between the pipes but unquestionably faces his biggest challenge today against the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the highly-skilled Blackhawks. Whether Khudobin gets another start in the final three games of the regular season will depend on the Bruins’ playoff status. That start would likely come in the season finale against the Washington Capitals in six days.