For three years, the Bruins’ playoff fate was decided during the last week of the regular season. They don’t need to wait much longer to become one of the 16 teams in this year’s postseason.
In fact, a win or an overtime or shootout loss against the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night – to begin another four-game road trip – would give the Black and Gold their second straight playoff berth.
Of course, Bruce Cassidy and company have bigger goals in sight for both the postseason and the remainder of the regular season. A win would put them back within three points of the East-leading Lightning while also extending their lead on the Maple Leafs to eight points. The Bruins will have a game in hand on both Atlantic Division foes after the final horn on NBCSN’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry.”
Rick Nash (upper-body), Patrice Bergeron (foot), David Backes (knee laceration), Zdeno Chara (upper-body), Jake DeBrusk (upper-body) and Charlie McAvoy (sprained MCL) will miss Wednesday’s matchup as they heal from their respective wounds. Luckily for the Bruins, they’re going up against a desperate Blues squad – sitting three points out of the final wild-card spot in the West – that are also dealing with their fair share of injuries, including the dynamic Vladimir Taresnko (upper-body) and goalie Carter Hutton (neck).
There’s no question that the Bruins need to be healthy to improve their chances in the long run. But they’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief with a point or two out of St. Louis.
Gametime: 8 p.m.
TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 45-17-9 (99 points), Blues 39-28-5 (83 points)
Location: Scottrade Center
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Riley Nash-David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen-David Krejci-Ryan Donato
Jordan Szwarz-Noel Acciari-Brian Gionta
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Tommy Wingels
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Nick Holden-Adam McQuaid
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Blues projected lines
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Alex Steen
Patrik Berglund-Kyle Brodziak-Vladimir Sobotka
Dmitrij Jaskin-Ivan Barbashev-Tage Thomspon
Nikita Soshnikov-Oskar Sundqvist-Chris Thorburn
Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo
Vince Dunn-Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson-Jordan Schmaltz
– Will Ryan Donato have an encore from his NHL debut? Maybe a three-point night isn’t quite realistic, but the highly-touted Donato certainly lived up to the hype with his goal and two assists; all coming in the last 40 minutes. The 2014 second-round pick, who joined the team late-Tuesday after his class commitments at Harvard, will be back on the second line with Danton Heinen and David Krejci. Juggling classes and a professional life is a hard task in and of itself – let alone at an Ivy League institution – but it’s safe to say that Donato is acing that early test of balance.
– What will Brad Marchand have to do to draw a penalty? Yes, his reputation is deserved at certain times, but Marchand more than just an agitator as evident by his third straight 30-goal campaign. He was visibly frustrated over the non-call on Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois – holding Marchand on a clear breakaway attempt – just minutes prior to Cam Atkinson’s overtime winner. More often than not, Marchand won’t be given the benefit of the doubt, but there are times where he should. This ongoing development will continue to follow him for the rest of his career.