They’ll still be without two vital cogs in Charlie McAvoy and Patrice Bergeron, but the Bruins will have at least one reinforcement — and maybe two — come puck drop in Carolina Tuesday night.
David Backes returns to the lineup after a three-game suspension for interfering with Frans Nielsen one week ago during the Bruins’ 6-5 win over the Red Wings. Backes will slot in his usual third line spot with Danton Heinen and newcomer Brian Gionta.
Brad Marchand, who escaped supplemental discipline after colliding with Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair on Saturday, is a game-time decision. The NHL’s second star of the week missed Sunday’s 3-1 loss in Chicago because of an upper-body injury suffered in the first half of the home-and-home with the Blackhawks 24 hours prior.
Regardless of who’s in and who’s out, the Bruins face a desperate Hurricanes squad who’s playoff hopes are getting slimmer by the day. The ‘Canes return home following a 6-3 loss to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden Monday night.
The Bruins would like nothing more than to put another dent in Carolina’s playoff hopes and simultaneously snap their three-game road skid Tuesday night.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 43-16-8 (94 points), Hurricanes 30-28-11 (71 points)
Location: PNC Arena
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Riley Nash-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Rick Nash
Danton Heinen-David Backes-Brian Gionta
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Nick Holden
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Hurricanes projected lines
Sebastian Aho-Jordan Staal-Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn-Elias Lindholm-Justin Williams
Jeff Skinner-Victor Rask-Phil Di Giuseppe
Joakim Nordstrom-Derek Ryan-Lee Stempniak
Jaccob Slavin-Brett Pesce
Klas Dhalback-Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin-Trevor van Riemsdyk
– The one area of improvement that might come as a surprise without Bergeron and McAvoy is the resurgence of the Bruins’ power play. The two units — especially the second unit — have propelled the power play from the middle of the league all the way up to fourth entering Tuesday’s slate. Given the moving parts and new additions, one might think that this would be an area of concern and that’s hardly been the case as fluid puck movement and timely goals have resulted in the upward trend. The B’s will have another chance to improve on their 22 percent success rate against a Hurricanes penalty kill that’s in the bottom third of the league with a success rate of 78.1 percent.
– We won’t know if Marchand will be in until warmups conclude, but we do know that Adam McQuaid will be the odd man out on the blue-line. Even with his injury history, McQuaid is a reliable stay at home option, but Nick Holden’s versatility gives the Bruins a better, well-rounded option without McAvoy. McQuaid will likely get a few more games in before playoff time given the Bruins’ busy season-ending slate, but at this rate, he’ll be one of the two extras on the back end come playoff time.