Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Golden Knights
It’s going to be awhile until the Boston Bruins get a clean bill of health – if at all.
As they carry a five-game point streak into tonight’s contest with the Vegas Golden Knights, the Bruins are, once again, in their next man up phase. The latest setback came as David Backes (diverticulitis) suffered a setback and will miss approximately eight weeks as he undergoes colon surgery.
In addition to Backes, the Bruins will be without David Krejci (back) for the fifth straight game, and Anton Khudobin (lower body) for the second straight time.
Over the last 48 hours, the Bruins have recalled Jordan Szwarz, Zane McIntyre and Austin Czarnik from Providence – all on an emergency basis. Szwarz will make his debut in a Black and Gold sweater tonight – and skate in his first NHL game since the 2014-15 season, while McIntyre will serve as Tuukka Rask’s backup and Czarnik is listed as a game-time decision.
Though they don’t have as many injuries, the Golden Knights, who are the league’s feel-good story during the first month of the season, also find themselves in a little bit of a bind. With their top three goaltenders – Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk – all being claimed by the injury bug, Maxime Lagace serves as the team’s fourth starter this season.
Tonight marks the second and final meeting between the Bruins and Golden Knights. With the injuries, the Bruins need to have a sense of urgency if they want to avenge their ugly loss in Vegas a few weeks ago.
Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 4-3-3 (11 points), Golden Knights 8-3-0 (16 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-Riley Nash-Tim Schaller
Danton Heinen-Jordan Szwarz-Anders Bjork
Matt Beleskey-Austin Czarnik-Sean Kuraly
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Paul Postma-Kevan Miller
Golden Knights projected lines
David Perron-Cody Eakin-James Neal
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith
Erik Haula-Oscar Lindberg-Alex Tuch
William Carrier-Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare-Tomas Nosek
Nate Schmidt-Luca Sbisa
Colin Miller-Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill-Deryk Engelland
– With his hand being forced, head coach Bruce Cassidy will insert Matt Beleskey back into the lineup this evening. Without Backes, the Bruins are missing a power forward presence, hence the reason for Beleskey skating in a game for the first time since the B’s ugly overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres back on October 21. As the injured players hope to heal up sooner rather than later, Cassidy knows the team can’t afford to have many players take an off night, and tonight is no exception. Even if he doesn’t score – which he hasn’t in his last 16 games – Beleskey could still find productivity in areas that aren’t on the scoresheet like engaging in puck possession battles and being physical in his pursuit. Otherwise, it may be a long night for the B’s bottom six.
– Even while taking the talented prospect depth on the back end, exposing Colin Miller in the Expansion Draft was a pretty risky move for Don Sweeney. That may come back to haunt the Bruins in the immediate term as Miller is making the most of his chance with the Golden Knights in the first month of the season. Unlike his time in Boston where he served as a second or third defensive pair and saw some time on the power play, Miller is averaging a little over 18 minutes per night in Vegas and is being used in all facets from even strength to the power play and penalty kill. With eight points (two goals, six assists) in 11 games – good for tops among Golden Knights blue-liners – Miller is starting to develop as a reliable blue-liner in the NHL.
– Miller isn’t the only Golden Knight with Bruins ties. Though he didn’t make the trip, Subban was also starting to find his rhythm in his new home before suffering a lower body injury that will likely keep him out until mid-November, while Reilly Smith (4-5-9) serves as one of Vegas’ alternate captains. Of course, there’s the return of former Bruins’ radio play by play man Dave Goucher, who has switched over to the Golden Knights’ television booth with Shane Hnidy, and finally Eric Tosi, a former public relations guru in Boston who now serves as Vegas’ Vice President of Communications and Content.