The Boston Bruins (11-2-2, 24 points) conclude a short two-game road trip tonight in Detroit when they battle the division rival Red Wings (4-12-1, 9 points) for the first time this season. Detroit is in the midst of a rebuild started by Ken Holland and carried on by Steve Yzerman. The Bruins, meanwhile, are looking to get their groove back after just their second regulation loss of the season on Tuesday night.
The Bruins will have to do that without a few key secondary pieces in this contest. Jake DeBrusk will not travel to Detroit, while David Backes and a host of other veterans will miss this tilt as well. Puck drop is at 7:30 pm on NESN.
M*A*S*H* Unit Grows
As mentioned above, DeBrusk will not travel with the Bruins and is out tonight. Bruce Cassidy confirmed that on Thursday after practice. Kevan Miller, Par Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom skated yesterday, but all wore non-contact jerseys and will miss tonight’s game. Backes, like DeBrusk, did not skate and will not play.
“Played through the game the other night,” Cassidy said regarding DeBrusk. “Woke up yesterday not feeling great. He’s had that checked out and continues to get it checked out. Will not travel with us. Will probably have a much better idea when we get a medical report,” the coach continued.
Peter Cehlarik was recalled from AHL Providence Thursday morning and skated in DeBrusk’s spot on the second line. Zach Senyshyn was also recalled. He had two assists in his season debut on Tuesday.
Call It A Comeback
Cassidy also provided some insight on potential returns for a few players on IR. Nordstrom, according to Cassidy, is the closest to returning to game action. Miller, meanwhile, could be just a few weeks away. “Wouldn’t be Tuesday, I wouldn’t rule out [next weekend],” began Cassidy. “I think it’s more likely the following week [November 18th].”
Another veteran defenseman is getting closer to a return as well. John Moore has not played yet this season, but skated on his own Thursday morning before the main group took the ice. “He’s able to join the group a little bit now on some of the line drills. We just had eight D out there, he’s not ready for contact.”
When he is ready for contact, and when Miller returns, the Bruins will have some serious decisions to make regarding their defensemen.
New Look Defense?
Like PB&J, Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara have been a pair as reliable as can be for the Bruins. That might change tonight. Chara skated with Connor Clifton on Thursday, while McAvoy was paired with Matt Grzelcyk. The idea? To get the skilled McAvoy going offensively. To this point in the season, he has just four assists.
“We see it as being more equitable if Clifton goes with Zee. We’re gonna give it a go,” began Cassidy. “It matches the size factor a little better. We always thought Grizz and Clifton are two good players, but are they an ideal pair? This allows Charlie to free up a bit on the offensive side of things, maybe not get the heavy matchup every time over the boards.”
One thing working in McAvoy and Grzelcyk’s favor? The two were teammates at NCAA Boston University. They have played together before. That should benefit them, according to Cassidy.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Zach Senyshyn
Chris Wagner – Sean Kuraly – Brett Ritchie
Zdeno Chara – Connor Clifton
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Rask will get the start tonight, while Jaroslav Halak goes on Sunday when the Philadelphia Flyers come to town.
Detroit Red Wings Lines
Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Anthony Mantha
Andreas Athanasiou – Valtteri Filppula – Taro Hirose
Brendan Perlini – Justin Abdelkader – Robby Fabbri
Darren Helm – Christoffer Ehn – Alex Biega
Patrik Nemeth – Filip Hronek
Dennis Cholowski – Dylan McIlrath
Joe Hicketts – Madison Bowey
Howard is expected to get the start tonight for the Red Wings. Steve Yzerman has made two trades since the start of the season, acquiring Perlini from Chicago for a prospect and Fabbri from the Blues for Jacob De La Rose. The trade with St. Louis was done late Wednesday night, following both team’s games.