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Bruins’ Halak Gets Starting Nod For NJ Devils Matinee

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After Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask starred in the B’s opening night win while stopping 20-of-22 shots in a shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils, backup Jaroslav Halak will get going in the rematch. Halak is scheduled to start Saturday afternoon’s matinee rematch against the Devils at the Prudential Center and could face the same kind of reckless net-crashing antics from Miles Wood that Rask endured on Thursday night.

That might have been one of the factors that ultimately pushed the Bruins toward going with Halak instead of Rask against New Jersey.

Either way, the Bruins are going to continue to need strong goaltending as the norm while they battle through injuries (David Pastrnak, Craig Smith) and a lot of changes on their defensemen corps to start the season.

“Jaro will go [on Saturday],” said Bruce Cassidy of the B’s backup, who was 18-6-6 with a 2.39 goals against average and .919 save percentage for the Jennings Trophy-winning Boston Bruins last season. “We were debating whether he would go on Monday against his former [Islanders] team. I know it’s been a number of years, but sometimes that factors into goalie [coach] Bob Essensa’s decision. We talked about ‘let’s get him in now.’ It was going to be up to Jaro whether it was Saturday or Monday depending on how he felt about his workload. He feels good so he’ll get in the net [against the Devils].”

With Halak playing on Saturday, one would expect Rask will be back in net against the New York Islanders on Monday and then probably on Thursday night for the home opener at TD Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers.

There could be some changes among Bruins line combinations as well with Anders Bjork getting a look with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and rookie Jack Studnicka getting bumped down in the lineup if Smith can’t go once again this weekend. Studnicka was very quiet in the season opener with zero shots on net and a minus-1 in 11:40 of ice time while Bjork was very active opening night against the Devils.

Here are the projected line combo and D-pairings for the Bruins in Saturday’s rematch against the Devils:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kase

Ritchie-Coyle-Studnicka

Frederic-Kuraly-Wagner

Lauzon-McAvoy

Grzelcyk-Carlo

Zboril-Miller

Halak

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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