The Boston Bruins (11-3-3, 25 points) look to snap a three-game losing streak tonight when they play host to the Florida Panthers (8-4-5, 21 points). It’s the first of four meetings between the sides on the season, who will play next on December 14th in the Sunshine state. Puck drop is 7:00 pm on NESN.
Injuries Keep Mounting
It seems like the Bruins simply cannot catch a break when it comes to injuries this season. Torey Krug is the latest to find himself out of action. Bruce Cassidy confirmed on Monday that Krug will not play tonight, while adding that there is no further update at this time on the veteran. “We will re-evaluate as the week goes on,” Cassidy said after practice.
“We’re not taking him out of the equation this weekend. He was here, but again, until I get more [information] I’ve got nothing for you.” Krug will be replaced in the lineup by either Urho Vaakanainen or Steven Kampfer. That’s a decision that Cassidy will make later today. Vaakanainen was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis on Monday.
Jake DeBrusk, Brett Ritchie and David Backes will all miss tonight’s tilt as well. Backes hasn’t played since November 2nd against Ottawa, while DeBrusk has been out for roughly a week. “We didn’t know at first how long,” Cassidy said regarding DeBrusk’s timeline. “Right now it’s stretching out a little.” DeBrusk did not skate on Monday.
Backes, meanwhile, is “feeling better” per Cassidy. The coach added that there is “nothing new to report” on the veteran forward. “Until he gets on the ice and gets active, hard to speculate on his return.”
Turn The Beat Around
The Bruins are facing a bit of adversity that they have yet to see this season. After dropping back-to-back regulation games against the Canadiens and Red Wings, the Bruins fell in a shootout to the Flyers on Sunday night. It’s their first true losing streak of the season. Cassidy had them working hard on Monday, as the team skated for roughly 30 minutes in a high-paced practice that included a number of battle drills.
The practice was a direct response to the Bruins lethargic first forty minutes on Sunday night. “A little bit more getting going. Let’s get after it today, let’s get in that mindset that we’re gonna get out work done in a hurry so that hopefully in the first period tomorrow we have that same mindset,” Cassidy said post-practice.
“I think we needed to be a little more competitive last night, so we brought it today.” Expect a fast start to be emphasized for the Bruins tonight.
Vaakanainen Ready To Contribute
Drafted in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Urho Vaakanainen has become the ‘lost’ prospect of sorts in the Bruins system. He doesn’t get the hype that many other prospect do. He just goes about his work as a solid two-way defensemen who is adjusting to not just the pro game, but North America as a whole.
Vaakanainen told BHN’s Jimmy Murphy yesterday that he’s improved in some areas with AHL Providence this season. “I’ve been defending well, skating well, found the flow in my game. It’s been a good two, three weeks, playing well. I feel good right now,” said Vaakanainen. “When you get a chance, you’re gonna take it. I haven’t been thinking about it too much. I don’t want to stress myself if someone gets injured or if I get called up. I just want to be myself.”
The second year defensemen will be essentially a game-time decision tonight. It’s between he and veteran journeyman Steven Kampfer to replace Krug. With Kevan Miller closing in on a return and John Moore starting to skate again, this might be Vaakanainen’s best chance to make something happen this season.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen – David Krejci – Charlie Coyle
Anders Bjork – Par Lindholm – Zach Senyshyn
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen – Connor Clifton
These lines are based off of Monday’s practice and are subject to the change. Rask is the expected starter after Halak played on Sunday night against the Flyers. Kampfer, who could draw in on the third pairing, skated with Kevan Miller on Monday. John Moore also skated but was wearing a maroon non-contact jersey.
Florida Panthers Lines
Jonathan Huberdeau – Aleksander Barkov – Evgenii Dadonov
Mike Hoffman – Vincent Trocheck – Brett Connolly
Dryden Hunt – Dominic Toninato – Colton Sceviour
Frank Vatrano – Denis Malgin – Brian Boyle
MacKenzie Weegar – Aaron Ekblad
Michael Matheson – Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle – Josh Brown
It was a whirlwind summer in South Florida. The Panthers named Joel Quenneville head coach and then signed Bobrovsky to a massive free agent contract. Veterans Anton Stralman and Brett Connolly also inked free agent deals with the club. Former Bruin Noel Acciari, signed on July 1st, is injured and not expected to play. Veteran Brian Boyle signed with the club in late October. He skated with the USPHL’s South Shore Kings earlier this season prior to signing.