To say things are looking a little more optimistic for the Bruins is an understatement.
Entering tonight’s game against in Detroit, the Bruins, winners of eight of their last ten, sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with a two-point lead over the hated Montreal Canadiens. Tonight, they go up against a rebuilding Red Wings squad that has lost nine of their last 10.
Only Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid and Peter Cehlarik are left on injured reserve. Two of those three players are closer with Spooner (lower body) traveling with the team and McQuaid taking contact for the first time since suffering his tibia injury in October. Both McQuaid and Spooner – along with Kevan Miller (personal) – are out tonight and are considered day-to-day.
The Bruins have games in hand on the rest of the Eastern Conference and will make up some ground in games played as they begin a 7-game-in-11-day stretch before going home for Christmas break.
Gametime: 8:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 14-9-4 (32 points), Red Wings 11-13-6 (28 points)
Location: Little Caesars Arena
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Anders Bjork
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Paul Postma
Red Wings projected lines
Gustav Nyquist-Henrik Zetterberg-Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Tatar-Dylan Larkin-Anthony Mantha
Darren Helm-Frans Nielsen-Luke Glendening
Luke Witkowski-Andreas Athanasiou-Martin Frk
Dan DeKeyser-Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson-Trevor Daley
Niklas Kronwall-Nic Jensen
– Aside from plugging injured guys back in the lineup, head coach Bruce Cassidy has rarely needed to make a lineup change during their recent 10-game stretch. With Miller and his wife at home welcoming their newest member of the family, Cassidy will make a minor move inserting Paul Postma as the sixth defenseman and pairing him with Matt Grzelcyk. Given McQuaid’s impending return, this pair will be intriguing to watch as GM Don Sweeney will have to make a move once the veteran returns to game action. The likely move by Sweeney will be sending Grzelcyk down to Providence, but given the progression by the former Boston University captain over the past few games, one might think Postma – making his first appearance since Nov. 29 – would be the odd man out. Either way, we’ll see how the pairing clicks against a struggling Red Wings bunch.
– Beginning their first set of back-to-back games since the start of their three-game California road trip, Cassidy will go with Tuukka Rask tonight and Anton Khudobin tomorrow night against the Capitals. Given the next set of back to backs coming early next week, the Bruins would love to have both goaltenders on top of their game before the Christmas break. No one will forget the four-game run Khudobin went on while Rask got a breather to settle down after his struggles. Having started six of the last seven games, Rask is now one of the hottest goalies while Khudobin – pulled in his last appearance in Nashville one week ago – settles back into his backup role. Both Rask and Khudobin could be the difference makers between the Bruins moving up or treading water in the standings as the team goes through their pre-Christmas grind.