The Boston Bruins (20-3-5, 45 points) look to extend their winning streak to nine games when they welcome the Chicago Blackhawks (10-12-5, 25 points) to TD Garden. It is the first of two meetings between the sides this season and the only one in Boston. These two will finish the season series on February 5th in Chicago.
Puck drop is at 7:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub
Welcome Back John Moore!
Veteran defenseman John Moore will make his season debut for the Bruins. Moore played through the Stanley Cup Playoff with a shoulder injury that required surgery following the Final in June. It was the first major surgery of his career. “It was a long recovery. You learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about who’s in your foxhole. I’m really happy that there’s a shining light at the end of the tunnel for me,” he told the club’s official website.
It didn’t take long for Moore to learn that his teammates were in his “foxhole” during his recovery. Shortly after surgery, while recovering at home, Moore was visited by teammates and staff. Included in the visitor’s book were Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Sean Kuraly, Torey Krug and Chris Wagner. Even Noel Acciari, who signed in Florida on July 1st, paid his former teammate a visit.
“Wags barged through the door, my kids were going nuts. You can’t put it into words. You remember what a journey it was…that meant a lot to me,” Moore said, pausing as his voice cracked. The emotional support was huge for Moore. The mental support of knowing what to expect also helped.
Kevan Miller has also been working back from injury and helped Moore through the process. “He’s someone that had the surgery that I had before. I bounced a lot of ideas off of him and he really looked out for me. I’ll forever be grateful for him for that.”
Ritchie, Bergeron Progressing
Patrice Bergeron will not play for the Bruins tonight as he continues to work his way back from a lower-body injury. Bruce Cassidy indicated yesterday that Bergeron should travel with the team next week when they embark on a road trip. On Thursday, while confirming Bergeron will miss tonight’s tilt, Cassidy did say that the veteran will skate and is “getting closer.”
Brett Ritchie has been dealing with an off-and-on infection in his elbow. He has not played since November 23rd and has missed 12 of the club’s last 14 games. Ritchie practiced each of the last two days, and proclaimed that he is feeling healthier. “I feel good now. Been skating pretty hard the last five days, so I feel back in game shape and ready to go…it was a little bit of bad luck I guess, a recurring injury. A pain in the butt, but we’re over it now and I feel good.”
Ritchie rotated in on Wednesday with David Backes on the club’s fourth line.
A Different Looking Hawk
These are not the Chicago Blackhawks that were a dynasty in the early portion of the decade. The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs in two consecutive years and appear destined for a third. They currently sit seventh in the ultra-competitive Central Division.
The Blackhawks lost 4-0 at home to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night. It was the third loss in four games for the club. The biggest bright spot this season has been star forward Patrick Kane’s sensational campaign. Kane had a 15-game point streak snapped on Monday night against the Blues. He registered 24 points (11 g, 13 a) in those 15 games.
This is the first meeting between the sides since February 12th, 2019. The Bruins swept the season series a year ago, including a 4-2 victory at the Winter Classic.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Joakim Nordstrom – Par Lindholm – David Backes
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
John Moore – Matt Grzelcyk
Bruins lines are based off of morning skate yesterday and are subject to change. Rask is the expected starter after Jaroslav Halak picked up the victory on Tuesday night. Karson Kuhlman (right tibia fracture) and Zach Senyshyn (lower-body) both remain out. Neither has started skating yet. Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer are tonight’s healthy scratches.
Chicago Blackhawks Lines
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Alex Nylander
Alex DeBrincat – Dylan Strome – Patrick Kane
Anton Wedin – David Kampf – Dominik Kubalik
Ryan Carpenter – Kirby Dach – Zack Smith
Olli Maatta – Connor Murphy
Calvin de Haan – Brent Seabrook
Erik Gustafsson – Slater Koekkoek
Just like with the Bruins lines, these are subject to change. Duncan Keith, Drake Caggiula, Robin Lehner and Andrew Shaw headline a star-studded injury list. With Lehner on the mend, Kevin Lankinen will serve as the backup.