The Boston Bruins (14-3-5, 33 points) host the Minnesota Wild (9-11-2, 20 points) Saturday.
The Bruins, winners of their last two games and 3-0-3 in their last six, look to remain the only team to not lose in regulation on home ice as they carry an 8-0-4 mark within the friendly confines of the revamped TD Garden. The Wild is playing the second of a two-game roadie and carry a measley 4-10-0 record on the road. Minnesota has won their last two games though, is 3-0-1 in their last four and has a 5-2-2 mark in the month of November.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed earlier Saturday that puck-moving defenseman Torey Krug will return after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury. Getting Krug back will obviously help what is already the second-best powerplay in the NHL that’s scoring at a 30.9 percent clip, but will also improve the team’s overall transition game as Cassidy pointed out after practice Friday.
“Well his vision up ice first of all,” Cassidy replied when asked what Krug brings to the transition game. “Second of all, his execution; he passes the puck well, and then composure. Some guys, won’t let the play develop. He has the ability to kind of slow it down in his mind. So you put those three things together. …and I think he’s got chemistry with certain guys that kind of know. …even ‘Marchy’ [Brad Marchand] now, or ‘Pasta’ [David Pastrnak] now, see plays where they’re watching stuff develop and they just let it play out where maybe the guy’s ina line change and you can see hole’s going to open up here, don’t force it, let it develop and I think that’s what happens with a couple of forwards as well.”
Part of that patience and vision from Krug on the ice comes from his preparation off it as the team’s leading scorer on the blue line (2g, 13a) told Boston Hockey Now Friday.
Marchand And Pastrnak Hot Again
After two games off the scoresheet, Marchand and Pastrnak have heated up again. The former had two goals in the 3-2 win over the Sabres Thursday and the latter had a goal and an assist, including the game-winner 1:56 into the third period. In the previous game, a 5-1 win at New Jersey, Pastrnak had two goals and Marchand had three assists. Marchand is now third in the NHL in points with 37 and Pastrnak is fourth with 36. Pastrnak leads the NHL with 20 goals.
With Krug back from injured reserve, the Bruins announced that they had reassigned defenseman Urho Vaakanainen back to the Providence Bruins Saturday. Cassidy also said that Steven Kampfer would replace Connor Clifton on the blue line since he hasn’t played since November 2. Up front, Brett Ritchie will return from a one-game absence due to a nagging infection. Forward Par Lindholm (cut) will miss the game Saturday.
Jaro Halak will get the nod between the pipes for the Bruins after Tuukka Rask started the last two games.
Donato Returns Home For First Time With Wild
This will be Wild forward and Scituate, MA native Ryan Donato’s first game in Boston since being traded for Charlie Coyle last February. The former Harvard star and son of former Bruin and Harvard head coach Ted Donato, was drafted by the Bruins in the second round (56th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Donato had 11 goals and seven assists in 48 regular season games as a Bruin and no points in three playoff games. He enters Saturday night’s tilt with one goal and two assists in 20 games this season.
While Donato was upset when he was dealt away to the Wild, he knows this is a business and is grateful he got to achieve one of his childhood dreams and play for the team he grew up cheering for.
“There were so many emotions going into it,” Donato told the media of his time in Boston. “You watch the Boston Bruins play your entire life. If there was a team I wanted to play for as a kid, that was the team I wanted to play for, and I got to do that.”
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Chris Wagner
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Brett Ritchie
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Brandon Carlo – Torey Krug
Matt Grzelcyk – Steven Kampfer
In addition to Lindholm, Backes (upper-body), Zach Senyshyn (lower-body) and Karson Kuhlman (hairline tibia fracture) all remain out.
Minnesota Wild Lines
Jason Zucker – Eric Staal – Mats Zucarello
Zach Parise – Mikko Koivu – Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Luke Kunin
Ryan Donato – Victor Rask – Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Mathew Dumba
Carson Soucy – Brad Hunt