The Boston Bruins (20-3-6, 46 points) conclude a four-game home stand tonight when they host the Colorado Avalanche (18-8-2, 38 points) at TD Garden. The Avalanche are one of just three teams to defeat the Bruins in regulation time this season. The Bruins lines will be shuffled up tonight thanks to an illness working through the group.
Puck drop is 7:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Ritchie Returns To Lineup
The Bruins lines get a bit of a jolt tonight as Brett Ritchie will return. The veteran forward has missed the last seven games and 12 of the last 14 overall. “You never want to be missing games for anything,” Ritchie told the team’s official website. “It’s exciting to be back in. I feel like I’m ready. Just take it a game at a time.”
“Unfortunately, it’s been a stop-and-start kind of season for him, so we don’t have a great evaluation on him right now,” Bruce Cassidy said. “At times, he’s looked to be that missing part and other times you just don’t know because he’s getting up to speed again. That’s what he’ll be doing again tonight.” The Bruins are hoping that Ritchie will provide a little bit of toughness for a team that has seen more physical play against them in the last few weeks.
In fact, one of the reasons GM Don Sweeney signed Ritchie in July was to provide that size and toughness in the lineup on a nightly basis. “The reason [Bruins GM Don Sweeney] brought him into the mix is because we were looking to add some size, a guy that could get inside, help us score some goals that way, be a presence,” Cassidy continued.
Ritchie’s spot in the lineup is yet to be determined, as the Bruins are dealing with illness right now and don’t have a clear lineup.
A New Mindset
Although the Bruins stormed back to force overtime and steal a point on Thursday night, the club isn’t happy with its poor start. The Bruins fell behind the lowly Blackhawks 3-0. “Obviously you don’t want to go down 3-0 in the third period,” Jake DeBrusk said.
“Not many teams can say they’ve done what we’ve been doing, especially late in games to come back,” DeBrusk continued. “It’s not easy to come back in this league no matter what the team is or how they play defensively. I think that everyone is competitive out on the ice and everyone has pride. For us to get a point out of that was pretty special…we have to make sure our urgency is there.”
The Bruins know they will need to be better at the start of games. Teams understand they are walking into the toughest rink in the NHL to win in. DeBrusk is well aware that the Bruins will getting everyone’s best shot. “We have to understand that teams that are coming into our building, they know that they don’t want to get beat and they don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. They want to bring their best and we’re kind of that measuring stick in a way.”
Avalanche Heating Up
The Avalanche have won five straight and are now second place in the Central Division. They are also third in the Western Conference, trailing only the St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers. The Avalanche are also getting healthier. Gabriel Landeskog returned to the lineup on Thursday in Montreal, while Mikko Rantanen has been on a tear since returning three games ago.
Old friend Nazem Kadri, acquired from the Maple Leafs on July 1st, will not play tonight. The pesky center is day-to-day with a lower body injury. The last time Kadri was in Boston, of course, was Game 2 of the opening round last season. He was suspended for the rest of the series after a hit on Jake DeBrusk.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Anders Bjork – Par Lindholm – Brett Ritchie
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
John Moore – Matt Grzelcyk
Halak gets the start tonight, as per Cassidy. He last played on Tuesday, pitching a shutout in his 500th career NHL game. The Bruins lines are subject to change. Cassidy told reporters this morning that a forward was sick and Ritchie will replace him in the lineup tonight. That forward was not named. Patrice Bergeron will again be out.
Colorado Avalanche Lines
Joonas Donskoi – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog – JT Compher – Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Matt Nieto
Vladislav Kamenev – Tyson Jost – T.J. Tynan
Samuel Girard – Nikita Zadorov
Cale Makar – Ryan Graves
Mark Barberio – Ian Cole