The Boston Bruins (44-14-12) will play their first meaningful game since March this afternoon when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7) in Game 1 of their round-robin schedule. The Bruins defeated the Flyers 2-0 on March 10th, the last game prior to ‘the pause’ for both of these clubs. That Bruins victory snapped a lengthy winning streak for the then-surging Flyers.
Puck drop is scheduled for 3:00 pm on NBC and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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The Bruins were clearly the second best team in their exhibition on Thursday. A 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t feature many highlights for the Bruins. One of those highlights, however, was the play of Jack Studnicka. The young winger was lined up with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
Coach Bruce Cassidy is expecting more highlights on Sunday. Why? He’s expecting his club to play a lot harder than they did on Thursday.
“Our guys, I expect to play a lot harder than they did against Columbus on Thursday night,” Cassidy said Saturday. “To what degree Philly plays, I can’t predict how they’ll do, but I expect us to be a lot more competitive than we were the other night.”
One of the areas Cassidy wants to see improved is the communication between his players on the ice. It starts with his veteran leaders.
“We do need a little more chatter to get us going,” Cassidy continued. “Bergy will talk, but he plays a lot of minutes, Z is in the same boat. You need sometimes, the guys like [Joakim Nordstrom] and [Charlie Coyle], they’re more quiet by nature. Even [Chris Wagner], who is an energy guy on the ice, you sort of need everyone to bring that chattiness.”
The collective breath of Bruins fans was held when Brad Marchand left Thursday’s game and did not return. He will return today and play against the Flyers.
Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, is out. He did not skate on Saturday, per Cassidy.
“He wasn’t feeling well, so unfit to participate today,” said Cassidy. “As an afternoon question tomorrow, the natural next question is ‘will he start?’ I’ll have to talk to Tuukka later and see where he’s at. If [Rask can’t play] then Jaro [Halak] will be ready to go.”
The answer to that question is no, Rask will not start. Cassidy confirmed that shortly after 11:00 am on Sunday. The hope, per the coach, is that Rask will be back on the ice “as early as tomorrow”.
Both Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie will be out this afternoon. Ritchie is still dealing with injury, while Kase recently joined the team in Toronto.
“He [Kase] didn’t have to quarantine here, he did that in New England,” Cassidy began. “He arrived yesterday and he was on the ice this morning with the extra players. We had two groups go, so he skated. He’ll be out tomorrow, certainly won’t play tomorrow.
“Ritchie skated with that group as well and with us, so he did double work today. But he won’t be available tomorrow either.”
Neither will go today, but both could be options come Wednesday when the Bruins take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“But they’re both back out on the ice and we’ll make a decision on Wednesday as we get closer to that game, so how they do with us on Monday and Tuesday’s practices.”
BOSTON BRUINS LINES
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Jack Studnicka
Karson Kuhlman – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
Halak will start as Rask is out, per the club. Dan Vlader will dress as the backup. Ritchie and Studnicka took turns on the right wing Saturday at practice, but it will be Studnicka who gets the nod this afternoon. Karson Kuhlman was alternating with Kuraly on Saturday. Kuhlman will take that spot on Coyle’s wing, while Kuraly replaces Par Lindholm on the fourth line.
John Moore, who skated as the seventh defenseman on Thursday, is a scratch today.
Boston Bruins lines, as always, are subject to change.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS LINES
Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier – Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton – Kevin Hayes – Travis Konecny
James Van Riemsdyk – Derek Grant – Nic Aube-Kubel
Michael Raffl – Nate Thompson – Tyler Pitlick
Ivan Provorov – Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim – Phil Myers
Robert Hagg – Justin Braun
Flyers lines are subject to change. Hart will start after making eleven saves on twelve shots on Tuesday in the club’s exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Joel Farabee is a notable scratch for the club, while Shayne Gostisbehere will sit on the blueline.