There are two games left in October, but tonight is the Bruins’ last chance to do something they haven’t done yet: win two in a row. To accomplish that, they’ll have to cool off the red-hot Los Angeles Kings, who come to TD Garden tied with the St. Louis Blues for the most points in the Western Conference.
A healthy mix of youth and veterans have helped the Kings, who missed the playoffs for the second time in three years last season, get off to their hot start. From Anze Kopitar showing signs of a bounce-back year, to the early resurgence of veteran Dustin Brown and the stellar play of rookie Adrian Kempe – to go along with their solid D core and goaltending led by Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick – the Kings are finding a groove under John Stevens.
Having tallied at least one point in three straight games, the Bruins will showcase the same lineup from Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Sharks – with one exception. For the first time since suffering a concussion from his collision with Anders Bjork, Tuukka Rask be the man between the B’s pipes. In an early trend of bounce-back performances from the Black and Gold following a loss, Bruce Cassidy and company are hoping Rask (1-3-0, 3.30 GAA, .882 save percentage) can get back on track following rough performances against the Avalanche and Golden Knights a few weeks back, and earn his first victory since opening night.
Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 4-3-1 (8 points), Kings 8-1-1 (17 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Anders Bjork
Jake DeBrusk-David Backes-David Pastrnak
Kenny Agostino-Riley Nash-Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Danton Heinen
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Paul Postma-Brandon Carlo
Kings projected lines
Alex Iafallo-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson-Adrian Kempe-Tyler Toffoli
Mike Cammalleri-Brooks Laich-Trevor Lewis
Andy Anderoff-Mike Amadio-Nic Dowd
Derek Forbot-Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin-Alec Martinez
Kurtis MacDermid-Oscar Fantenberg
– For the second straight game – and third time this season – Matt Beleskey will be joining fellow Bruins personnel, scouts and media members in the press box. Though the coaching staff liked Beleskey’s work ethic heading into the season, the results and performances are still a work in progress for the former Anaheim Duck. Including the end of last year, Beleskey has gone 16 straight games without tallying a point. The emergence of Danton Heinen along with the youth developing in Providence and Ryan Spooner and Noel Acciari likely returning in November, Beleskey and his $3.9 million cap hit may be getting used to the press box.
– Like Beleskey, Frank Vatrano is going through a dry spell as he carries a pointless streak of 18 straight games. With guys lurking in Providence and Acciari and Spooner likely back next month, Vatrano is starting to make some progress, however. Over the last two games, Vatrano is engaging in more physicality and puck possession battles leading to some solid scoring chances for the former UMass Minuteman. It may not be quite the ‘A’ game that Cassidy is hoping for from Vatrano, but his performances against the Sabres and Sharks are certainly ‘B’ level worthy. As long as he stays engaged, the goals – and perhaps that ‘A’ game – will come for Vatrano.