The Boston Bruins (9-1-2, 20 points), winners of five straight and tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Buffalo Sabres, host the last place Ottawa Senators (3-7-1) at TD Garden Saturday night. Heading into NHL action Saturday, the Senators were actually the worst team not just in the Atlantic Division but in the Eastern Conference and the entire league. Despite their poor record, the Bruins know that the Sens won’t be an easy out and expect an aggressive Ottawa team tonight.
“I expect they’ll skate and they’ll play hard, that’s what they’ve done since the start of the year,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media Saturday morning. “They’ll be a little bit more assertive than we’ve seen in the past. It’s on us. We’ve had three days off as well between games…hopefully it carries over for us.”
Nordstrom And Ritchie Out With Infections
Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom has missed four of the last five games with an elbow infection and the Swedish winger will be out of the lineup again Saturday against the Senators as the infection doesn’t seem to be getting better. To make matters worse for the already banged-up Bruins forward corps, winger Brett Ritchie will not play as well for the same reason, an infection.
“We’re keeping an eye on it. He might not be out as long, but another cut that didn’t heal properly,” Cassidy said of Ritchie. “He won’t play tonight. Not ruling him out for Monday…Ritchie is not necessarily the same as Nordy, but we’re seeing some similarities, so the medical team is gonna have to look at him and see if they caught it quick enough and he can get back at it or not.”
As for Nordstrom?
We’re looking down the road for him,” said Cassidy. “I think there’s an issue when you have what he has [because] you can’t sweat for X-amount of time, you’re very inactive. That sets you back right there…maybe Friday’s an option, I don’t know.”
Due to Ritchie also being out, the Bruins called up Peter Cehlarik again. Cehlarik played in the team’s 7-4 win over the Rangers in New York last Sunday. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound winger has six goals and four assists through seven games with the Providence Bruins (AHL) this season. Cehlarik has appeared in 38 career games with the Boston Bruins and has five goals and five assists in the NHL.
Cehlarik is thrilled to get another shot after being sent back to Providence last Monday and is looking forward to skating on the right wing with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork.
“It’s important for me to recognize who I’m playing with, what’s my role,” Cehlarik told the media Saturday. “We haven’t talked yet today, but we will for sure. I know Coyle, we played together a couple times last year and I know Bjorkie from Providence, so I know what kind of game I can expect. Hopefully we can create some offense as well.”
Cassidy felt that Cehlarik struggled when he was up with the big club last Sunday and is hoping he can find some chemistry with Bjork and Coyle.
“I thought he had a tough time getting his legs under him,” Cassidy pointed out. “I’ve seen him better. I don’t want to judge him on that game. He’s played really well in Providence. He’s come up here and had really good shifts for us and other time where he wasn’t as consistent as he’d like. The reason we brought him back is he went down there and played well again and I don’t know that we put him in the best position to succeed the other night…he’s probably a better fit with a Coyle and a Bjork, where it’s a little more offensive-minded role.”
Kampfer In, Clifton Scratched
For the second time this season, defenseman Connor Clifton will watch from the press box and Steven Kampfer will slide in on the third pairing with Matt Grzelcyk.
Tuukka Rask – who has yet to lose in regulation – will get the nod between the pipes for the Bruins. Rask is 6-0-0-1 with a league-best 1.42 GAA and also league-best save percentage at .951.
Here’s what the Bruins lineup should look like Saturday night against the Sens:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Peter Cehlarik
Chris Wagner – Sean Kuraly – David Backes
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Steven Kampfer