Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Predators
While it may feel like Stanley Cup playoff weather outside, inside the TD Garden it will be nice and cool when the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators drop the puck tonight.
Neither the Bruins, nor Predators, will be at peak performance tonight thanks to several key injuries. Coach Bruce Cassidy and company will be without Patrice Bergeron (lower body), David Backes (illness) and Torey Krug (jaw). Both Bergeron and Backes are day-to-day with their respective injuries, while Krug skated again on Thursday with a red non-contact jersey.
On the other side, the defending Western Conference champion Predators will be without Ryan Ellis (knee). New addition Nick Bonino, who missed all of Nashville’s camp while recovering from a broken tibia, is expected to be in the opening night lineup.
The Bruins and Predators split their two-game season series in 2016-17, setting up a highly anticipated bout for tonight’s season opener.
With Game 1 of 82 underway in just a matter of hours, here’s all you need to know for tonight’s matchup.
Gametime: 7:00 pm
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
2016-17 Records: Bruins 44-31-7 (95 points), Predators 41-29-12 (94 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Ryan Spooner-Anders Bjork
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey-Sean Kuraly-Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller-Riley Nash-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Kevan Miller-Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzeclyk-Adam McQuaid
Predators projected lines
Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson
Scott Hartnell-Nick Bonino-Kevin Fiala
Miikka Salomaki-Colton Sissons-Craig Smith
Cody McLeod-Calle Jarnkrok-Austin Watson
Roman Josi-Matt Irwin
Mattias Ekholm-P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin-Yannick Weber
– With Bergeron out, Ryan Spooner slots in as the top line center with Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork. Clearly looking for a bounce-back season, Spooner made a good impression at training camp and hopes that translates into the regular season. The 25-year-old avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract worth $2.825 million in the off-season. Clearly, he’ll need to post better numbers than his 11-28-39 totals a year ago, as well as show improvement in faceoffs and the defensive area, if he wants to get a longer-term deal in the off-season, and he’ll have a good first chance to showcase his talents on the top line.
– The Backes injury also puts the Bruins’ bottom six in a little bit of a jam. With Spooner moving to the first line, Sean Kuraly will slot in as the third line center with two players who also look to bounce back from a year ago in Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano. While Beleskey showed a spark at camp, Vatrano’s frustrations continued into the preseason. Though he made the final roster cuts, Vatrano hopes to bring his A game – or at least his B game. Otherwise, he may find himself on Level 9 once Backes heals up.
– From top to bottom, the Bruins are going to need all 18 players in rhythm, specifically on special teams. Riley Nash slots in Bergeron’s special team assignments as the center on the top penalty kill quartet and will also play the bumper on the first power play unit.
– Three Bruins rookies will be making their regular season debuts tonight: Anders Bjork, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk. The trio will have some high profile assignments too with Bjork slotting at first line right wing, DeBrusk skating with David Krejci and David Pastrnak and McAvoy pairing with Kevan Miller on the second defensive pair. Bjork, and DeBrusk should also see time on the second power play unit, while McAvoy mans the point on the top power play unit.