The Boston Bruins rolled into Vegas with a 2-0-0 record after defeating the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes to open the 2019-20 season. Tonight, the Bruins will get their stiffest test of the young season. The Bruins will battle the Vegas Golden Knights for the first of two times this season, their lone trip to Sin City. The Golden Knights are a legit Stanley Cup threat who, like the Bruins, have yet to experience defeat this season.
What To Expect
Vegas plays like a team. Gerard Gallant gets them to play as a five man unit, which makes them extremely effective in both the offensive and defensive zones. The Golden Knights are also an extremely aggressive team that will match the Bruins’ physicality. One needs to look no further than Vegas’ heated battles with San Jose to know that this team will rise to the occasion when pushed.
This might be one of the few games all season where the antics of guys like Brad Marchand will be largely ineffective. There should be a real physical element to this game.
The Golden Knights have immense speed and skill inside their top-six forward group. William Karlsson centers the top line and has Jonathan Marchessault on his left side. With Reilly Smith patrolling the right wing, Vegas has one of the most lethal lines in the west at the top of their depth chart. Rookie Cody Glass and veteran Paul Stastny give the Golden Knights a terrific top three down the middle. They are one of the deepest teams in the league at center.
Two names to keep an eye on tonight are Brandon Pirri and Valentin Zykov. Both have proven to be prolific goalscorers at the AHL level and are getting a real look in the NHL this fall. Both of these players have terrific shots and, with Stastny as their center, should be considered dangerous.
Old friend Nick Holden anchors the Golden Knights’ second pair defensively alongside Jon Merrill, while rookie Nicolas Hague looks to be a gem.
Bruins Backes Likely Back
It sounds like veteran forward David Backes will be back in the lineup tonight for the Bruins. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy told the media on Monday that Backes is “likely to draw back in” but that final decisions on the fourth line will not be made until Tuesday. Another bottom-six mainstay, Joakim Nordstrom, is also getting close to a return.
Cassidy confirmed at Nordstrom has been cleared but that he will not play in Vegas. Cassidy wants to give him more practice time to help avoid some of the rust that other players have dealt with.
Tuukka Rask will start for the Bruins against the Golden Knights. This shouldn’t be a surprise, even after Jaroslav Halak’s stellar performance in Arizona. To the disappoint of some Bruins fans, Rask is the starter and the workhorse for this Bruins team. He is their best option in net, he gives the team the best chance to win. In a marquee game like this, it should be a no brainer that Rask starts. He played quite well against the Stars last week.
Here’s a look at the Bruins projected lineup tonight in Vegas:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen – Charlie Coyle – Brett Ritchie
Chris Wagner – Sean Kuraly – David Backes
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton