The Boston Bruins (1-0-1, 3 pts), will conclude their season-opening three-game road trip on Long Island tonight when they play the New York Islanders (1-1-0, 2 pts) in a rare 5 PM ET (NESN, MSG+, NBCSN) start at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Boston Bruins will look to finish the roadie at 2-0-1 after going 1-0-1 in their first two games of the season against the New Jersey Devils. After a thrilling 3-2 shootout win in the season opener on Thursday, the Bruins dropped a tough one Saturday as the Devils scored the overtime winner with 2.8 seconds left. Now they have the chance to take four of the possible six points in the first three games if they can beat the Islanders Monday.
Tuukka Rask will get the nod between the pipes for the Bruins tonight after Jaro Halak was in net Saturday.
When Will The Bruins Score 5-on-5?
Through two games this season, the Boston Bruins have gotten two powerplay goals, one each from Brad Marchand and Nick Ritchie, and a Patrice Bergeron shorthander. They have been unable to light the lamp at even strength though.
“Clearly the first period wasn’t very good by our standards. We didn’t give up a lot, but we’re not doing the things necessary to score goals right now if you don’t get odd-man rushes or some rush plays,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the 2-1 overtime loss Saturday. “We’re certainly trying to make it work until [David] Pastrnak comes back and with Craig Smith missing a game, you want to be careful about how many minutes you put on his plate. In the first period, I thought we were predictable. Then we got some low-to-highs that I thought we could get against this type of defense.”
Doing all that and getting their first even-strength goal against the stingy Barry Trotz-coached Islanders won’t be easy but as David Krejci pointed out, the Bruins can study all the video they want but when it comes down to it, they have to correct the issues Cassidy referenced and just worry about their own game.
“You know we will watch video and talk about all those things but we just have to play our game,” Krejci said. “In the end, that’s what matters most.
Right Side Mishmash
After playing without newcomer Craig Smith (lower-body) in the season opener, Smith made his Bruins debut on Saturday. As has been the case in recent years though, one winger comes back and another one exits and that was the case Saturday as winger Ondrej Kase left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. Cassidy said Smith will likely be in the lineup tonight but Kase is doubtful.
That meant another mishmash of lines at Bruins practice on Sunday and also less of a chance for the forward lines to find some chemistry.
“We’ve been through it over the years, maybe not quite to this extent. We’re talking about one, two, and three lines. It’s usually finding fit for one of the lines,” said Cassidy. “So we have some options. It’s tough when you’re moving a guy around all the time, but that’s the hand we’re dealt. This is where you really miss exhibition games when you have new players and you can see how it goes.”
The New York Islanders are having their own injury issues and since they’re between the pipes, one may argue more difficult. The Islanders have high hopes for their hotshot rookie goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin but they were not planning on having him make his season debut in the manner he did.
After posting a 24-save shutout in a 4-0 Islanders win over the New York Rangers on Thursday, veteran starter Semyon Varlamov injured himself during warmups for the rematch against the Blueshirts on Saturday and Sorokin was thrown in for an emergency start. The rookie got lit up for five goals on 32 shots in a 5-0 loss.
Colleague and buddy Christian Arnold broke down the rough showing for Sorokin over at NYI Hockey Now. Sorokin is expected to be between the pipes again tonight.
So far for the Islanders, Anders Lee has two goals and Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal each have a goal apiece. Nick Leddy has two assists.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Jack Studnicka
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Extra: Par Lindholm
Jeremy Lauzon – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril – Kevan Miller
Extras: John Moore, Connor Clifton
New York Islanders Lines
Anders Lee-Mathew Barzal-Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier-Brock Nelson-Josh Bailey
Ross Johnston-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Kieffer Bellows
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy-Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene-Noah Dobson