Game Day Preview: Bruins at Stars
Their first — and most important — regular season task has been checked off the list. Now, the Boston Bruins are just trying to stay healthy.
The Bruins won’t have any reinforcements coming their way for Friday’s matchup with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and the desperate Dallas Stars, who return home after going 0-4-2 on their recent six-game road trip. The B’s appear closer to having Patrice Bergeron at their disposal again as the four-time Selke will seek clearance today from team doctors for his foot injury. Bergeron could join the team in Minnesota Sunday night if things go according to plan.
Bergeron, Zdeno Chara (upper-body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained MCL), David Backes (knee laceration), Rick Nash (upper-body) and Jake DeBrusk (upper-body) are all out again for Friday’s matchup, while Torey Krug (upper-body) is a game-time decision.
Results wise, things haven’t been going as well for the Black and Gold as they’ve dropped two straight in overtime against teams fighting for playoff positioning in the Blue Jackets and Blues. The Stars, like the Blues, are on the outside looking in of a playoff berth as they sit four points behind the Avalanche and Ducks in the Western Conference wild-card race.
They may have two games in hand on the Lightning and Maple Leafs, but the Bruins are trending toward keeping their second place spot in the Atlantic Division. Clinching home ice for the first round is their next priority but getting back to full health is more important in the long run. The Bruins can get one step closer toward sustaining home ice with a win over the Stars, but getting out of ‘Big D’ with full health is a bigger key for Bruce Cassidy and company.
Gametime: 8:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 45-17-10 (100 points), Stars 38-28-8 (84 points)
Location: American Airlines Center
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Riley Nash-David Pastrnak
Ryan Donato-David Krejci-Danton Heinen
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Tommy Wingels-Jordan Szwarz-Brian Gionta
Nick Holden-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
Paul Postma-Adam McQuaid
Stars projected lines
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Brett Ritchie
Mattias Janmark-Radek Faska-Alex Radulov
Antoine Roussel-Devin Shore-Tyler Pitlick
Remi Elie-Jason Dickinson-Curtis McKenzie
Esa Lindell-John Klinkberg
Dan Hamhuis-Greg Pateryn
Marc Methot-Stephen Johns
– Tuukka Rask may not be playing his best hockey during the last month, but the injury-plagued Bruins are finding ways to win during his off nights. The 2014 Vezina winner has given up at least four goals in six of his last ten starts but has a 7-2-1 mark in that span. Working with a patchwork defense hasn’t been easy for Rask, but perhaps he’ll be motivated by Anton Khudobin’s outing in St. Louis, which was highlighted his diving playoff-clinching save on Dmitrij Jaskin with 1.5 ticks left in regulation. His doubters might be stretching the anti-Rask narrative, but getting the Rask task back on track will be another key development before the playoffs.
– Unlike his counterpart, Kari Lehtonen hasn’t gotten the same offensive production from the slumping Stars. Lehtonen has had to carry the load between the pipes as Ben Bishop nurses a lower-body injury, and the Stars haven’t been able to help their goalie out as they’ve only scored 26 goals while giving up 37 in 11 games this month. Lehtonen meanwhile has allowed 16 goals in the last four games. They may be chomping at the bit to snap their six-game skid against the injury-plagued Bruins, but the Stars need a well-rounded performance to realistically stay in the playoff discussion out west.