The Boston Bruins (24-7-10, 58 points) got some terrific news ahead of Thursday’s matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets (18-14-8, 44 points). The Bruins will be getting defenseman Torey Krug and forward David Krejci back. Krejci missed Tuesday’s game at New Jersey, while Krug has missed ten games with an upper-body injury. Charlie McAvoy remains day-to-day.
This is the first of three meetings on the season between the foes. They’ll meet in Columbus on January 14th before concluding the series back at TD Garden on March 16th. This is also the first meeting since the sides met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring.
Puck drop is at 7:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Krug, Krejci In; McAvoy Too?
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed to the media this morning that both Krug and Krejci will be in the lineup tonight. Krug was hurt in the December 23rd victory over the Capitals. Krejci has been banged up and missed Tuesday’s loss against the Devils. Cassidy hinted at Krug’s return earlier this week.
“We’re erring on the side of caution a little bit here as well,” Cassidy said earlier this week. “He’s very close, but would the extra couple days help him? We have to discuss that internally.”
Cassidy took things a step further postgame in New Jersey on Tuesday.
“I can’t speak for where they’re all at because I didn’t see them today, but my guess is Torey will be ready to go,” said Cassidy. “Charlie could be, but I think Torey was farther along.”
Krug himself was excited about the possibility of a return to the Bruins after practicing with the club on Monday.
“I feel good,” Krug told the Bruins official website. “Obviously, anytime you get to be back on the ice with your teammates and back in a full practice, full contact, everything, you get excited and it gets you pumped up for the next possibility to come. Definitely feel good.”
The news was also good surrounding McAvoy, although not as good as Krug and Krejci. Cassidy confirmed that McAvoy would be a game-time decision tonight. He too has been out since December 23rd. McAvoy suffered a lower-body injury in that game against the Capitals.
“Good skate this morning and we’ll just see what happens…it’s hockey,” McAvoy told reporters. “Haven’t really thought about [the hit] for a while, just been focusing on myself and the team and trying to cheer these guys on the last week. Just trying to focus on myself and getting better.”
Clifton Remains Out, Lauzon To Providence
There was bad news on the injury front to go along with the plethora of good news. Cassidy confirmed that Connor Clifton, injured Sunday night against the Sabres, has not yet resumed skating. Clifton will miss, at a minimum, tonight’s game and Saturday’s tilt against the Edmonton Oilers.
The man who replaced Clifton in the lineup on Tuesday, meanwhile, has been sent to AHL Providence. As per the club, Jeremy Lauzon was assigned to the Providence Bruins this morning. Joining him was Anton Blidh, who was loaned to the club on a conditioning stint.
Lauzon made his season debut on Tuesday. The 22-year-old has ten points (1 g, 9 a) in 35 AHL games this season to go along with a plus-16 rating. Blidh was injured in training camp and has been out since then. The 180th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft played in 74 games with Providence last season. Blidh finished the year with 23 points (10 g, 13 a).
History Will Be Made
Zdeno Chara will join an exclusive club tonight. He will join Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks as the 12th, 13th and 14th players in NHL history to play in four different decades. The Sharks play the Penguins tonight and both Thornton and Marleau are expected in the lineup.
The trio played games during the 1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s and now 2020’s. They join Gordie Howe (1946-80), Mark Messier (1979-2004), Mark Recchi (1988-2011), Chris Chelios (1983-2010), Ray Bourque (1979-2001), Mike Modano (1989-2011), Tim Horton (1949-74), Bobby Hull (1957-80), Mathieu Schneider (1987-2010), George Armstrong (1949-71) and Rod Brind’Amour (1989-2010).
More Urgency Needed
After building a 2-0 lead on Tuesday, the Bruins were outplayed by a more desperate New Jersey Devils team. It was an uncharacteristic loss for the club in the sense that they were simply outworked by a lesser opponent.
“We just didn’t have enough urgency, puck management, decision making, I think those go together,” Cassidy said postgame.
“We gave them some easy opportunities and couldn’t get out of our end…they had a lot of life in the third. They’re at home, they want to do well. They just had more will than us in the third, that’s for sure.”
Veteran leader Patrice Bergeron concurred. He didn’t like what he saw from a team that built a lead with a strong start on the road.
“It’s frustrating,” said Bergeron. “We kind of sat back and they were doing some of what we want to do to other teams, just a quick chip out of their zone with speed. They were getting some good O-zone time because of that. I think they simplified their game and got some good results….we spent too much time our zone.”
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Charlie Coyle
Anders Bjork – Sean Kuraly – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Par Lindholm – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
John Moore – Matt Grzelcyk
Bruins lines are subject to change. Per Cassidy, Rask gets the start tonight. Halak started and suffered a shootout loss on Tuesday in New Jersey. McAvoy (lower-body) is a game-time decision but did skate with Chara at practice this morning. Steve Kampfer is the expected scratch on defense, while David Backes and Brett Ritchie sit up front.
Columbus Blue Jackets Lines
Nick Foligno – Boone Jenner – Gustav Nyquist
Nathan Gerbe – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Kevin Stenlund
Sonny Milano – Alexander Wennberg – Eric Robinson
Jakob Lilja – Riley Nash – Ryan MacInnis
Zach Werenski – Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov – David Savard
Scott Harrington – Dean Kukan