Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Ducks
The Bruins leapfrogged their rivals and regained sole possession of the East’s top wild card spot following a 4-0 thumping of the Canadiens in Montreal on Monday.
After a brief two-day reprieve, Bruce Cassidy’s squad will look to build on that momentum as they shift their focus from the Atlantic Division to the red-hot Anaheim Ducks, who have won nine of their last 11. Boston has struggled against the Ducks and are 13-19-2 overall in series history. In fact, the last time the Bruins defeated the Ducks was in a shootout back on Oct. 31, 2013.
The Bruins will have the same lineup again from the previous three games. David Krejci — at least for the time being — will start on the first line between the dynamic duo of Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, the “college hockey” line will remain intact and the bottom-six will continue to grind it out with Sean Kuraly playing at left wing.
Thursday’s game against Anaheim marks another three-game-in-four-day stretch. The Bruins will host Nashville on Saturday and travel to Carolina on Sunday to close out their pre-Christmas slate.
Gametime: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 18-12-4 (40 points), Ducks 19-12-5 (43 points)
Location: TD Garden
Bruins Projected Lines
Brad Marchand-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Joakim Nordstrom-Colby Cave-David Backes
Ryan Donato-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Danton Heinen
Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari-Chris Wagner
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy
John Moore-Steven Kampfer
Ducks Projected Lines
Pontus Aberg-Ryan Getzlaf-Ondrej Kase
Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie-Adam Henrique-Daniel Sprong
Kiefer Sherwood-Carter Rowney-Brian Gibbons
Hampus Lindholm-Brandon Montour
Jacob Larsson-Josh Manson
Josh Mahura-Jakob Dotchin
– The Bruins received more good news on the injury front, as Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Jake DeBrusk and Kevan Miller all returned to practice on Wednesday. None of them will play Thursday night, but they are all one step closer to returning to game action. Bergeron will likely come first as Bruce Cassidy suggested the four-time Selke winner could return to Boston’s lineup as soon as this weekend.
– Boston’s secondary scorers are slowly finding ways to chip in offensively. Colby Cave recorded his first NHL goal on Monday against Montreal, while Joakim Nordstrom tallied another. The “college hockey line” of Ryan Donato, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Danton Heinen has a new jump in its step and they have been swarming the net, and as a result, they’re cashing in on a few goals. Secondary scoring and injuries were two things plaguing the Black and Gold in the first three months of the season. The upward trend from the second, third and fourth lines — and the defensemen who’ve lit the lamp — comes at a good time with the aforementioned injured players on the brink of returning.
– Ryan Getzlaf, who leads the Ducks with 29 points (9 goals, 20 assists), has been a force to be reckoned with during the month of December. The 13-year-veteran has 10 points, 19:38 TOI/G and a plus-6 rating in eight games played and is averaging nearly a point per game this season. He’s been a rare bright spot for a Ducks squad that ranks 28th in goals (91) and 29th in average goals per game (2.53).