Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Blues
After a precise combination of unfortunate events — without Brad Marchand (suspension) and Charlie McAvoy (heart procedure), and a five-shot first period among them — the Bruins 18-game points streak ended in a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. They’re back at TD Garden to take on the St. Louis Blues Thursday night.
That first period wasn’t exactly an isolated incident — the B’s have allowed the first goal for eight consecutive games. There’s a team-wide mentality about two things right now: Thursday’s game is day one of the next streak, and scoring the first goal is crucial.
Sitting in third place in the Central Division, the Blues are riding a three-game winning streak, but they had an ugly 5-2 loss to the Coyotes before the All-Star break. Jake Allen gets the nod in net despite Carter Hutton’s 8-1-1 mark in his last 10, but the Bruins will still need a complete effort against a skilled and solid St. Louis squad.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 29-11-8 (66 points), Blues 31-18-3 (65 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins projected lines
Danton Heinen-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Ryan Spooner
Peter Cehlarik-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Frank Vatrano
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Blues projected lines
Ivan Barbashev-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Alex Steen
Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Tage Thompson
Dmitrij Jaskin-Kyle Brozkiak-Scottie Upshall
Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo
– Jake DeBrusk addressed the team’s approach to Thursday’s game after the morning skate:
“Learning how to win in different ways, I think that’s a sign of a good team,” he said. “[But] I think it’s been around seven or eight games when other teams scored first, you don’t want to start like that, ever…it’s an area we’re focusing on right now. We need to get on the board here first tonight and go from there.”
– Scoring first is a focus, but the Bruins defensive depth to match the Blues skilled players will be a significant key. St. Louis has eight players with more than 20 points this season. Brayden Schenn leads the team with 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists) and a plus-18 through 52 games. Watch out for Alex Pietrangelo, too. The defenseman has entered the Norris Trophy conversation with 35 points (8 goals, 27 assists) through 48 games.
– Peter Cehlarik was recalled to replace Anders Bjork (upper-body) who was replacing Marchand…starting to get an early-season vibe around here. Cehlarik has some NHL experience, with 16 NHL games under his belt. He’ll start off on the third line at left wing with Riley Nash and David Backes, but pay attention to how — and if — Bruce Cassidy shifts the lines. If Tuesday’s game was any indication, Cassidy is still looking for a suitable left winger for Bergeron. It turns out Marchand’s point-per-game production — tops in the NHL — is pretty hard to replace.
“He is going to have to be hard on the puck…hopefully he makes the plays that are available to him and manages it well,” Cassidy said. “I think his pace will be okay. The more he plays, the better he’ll be.”