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Game 17: Boston Bruins @ New York Islanders: Lines, Preview

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The Boston Bruins (11-3-2, 24 pts) will try to snap the spell that the New York Islanders (9-6-3, 21 pts) seem to have over them with another road matchup at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night. The Isles have handed the B’s two of their three regulation losses this season and the Bruins have lost each of the two games they’ve already played on Long Island this season.

Jaroslav Halak (4-1-1, 1.66 GAA, .928 save percentage) will be back between the pipes for the Boston Bruins tonight and Semyon Varlamov (8-4-2, 2.06 GAA, .927 save percentage) will get the nod for the Isles. Varlamov has been the winning goalie in each of the two matchups between the Bruins and Islanders thus far this season.

Interestingly, Halak will be playing the Islanders for the first time since he left the organization following the 2017-18 NHL season.

Bruins Notes

– The Boston Bruins have been flummoxed by the Islanders this season with a pair of losses in regulation to the stingy, heavy Islanders team.

“We were playing fast then on the forecheck we were able to get some turnovers and some chances,” Brock Nelson said about the last time the Islanders faced Boston. “They’re a tough team. They have a lot of weapons. Obviously great goaltending, so every time you play them it’s going to be you hope for a tight game and a chance to win it. Tonight’s a good opportunity.”

Semyon Varlamov is 2-0-0 with a .965 save percentage in the two wins over the Bruins, including a 1-0 shutout win, and two-way center Jean-Gabriel Pageau has scored three goals in the two games vs. Boston.

– ‘The Perfection Line’ has provided the only offense against the Islanders this season with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron accounting for the two goals scored vs. the Isles in two games. Clearly the Bruins need their secondary scoring to step up for them in this season, as it did against the Flyers with Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic and Nick Ritchie all chipping in goals during a four-goal explosion during the second period on Sunday night.

It’s the kind of secondary scoring that the Bruins have been waiting for this season, and exactly what has been missing in the losses to the Islanders.

– Another major factor in the Bruins’ success against the Flyers this season has been the stellar netminding of Tuukka Rask. Rask is 3-0-0 with a 2.60 GAA and .893 save percentage against the Flyers this season.

– The Boston Bruins will be missing many key players as Kevan Miller (knee soreness), Matt Grzelcyk (lower-body) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) are all out of the lineup for Thursday night. Lauzon is expected to miss at least a month. Grzelcyk traveled with the team and may be closing in on a return, but Miller didn’t make the trip with the Bruins. The Bruins will also be without their second line center in David Krejci, who suffered a lower-body injury Thursday and will miss his second straight game after also not traveling with the team this week. Forward Ondrej Kase remains on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury and doesn’t appear to be making significant progress.

— Young D-man Jakub Zboril will return for the Bruins after practicing the last couple of days with the team after missing time with an upper body injury.

– With Krejci and Miller out, the Boston Bruins recalled forward Jack Studnicka and defenseman Urho Vaakanainen on Friday. Studnicka was solid in his seventh game of the season for Boston and notched an assist on one of David Pastrnak’s goals, while Vaakanainen was strong in his season debut with 23:28 of ice time while notching an assist and six shot attempts. The Bruins will be relying on Vaakanainen heavily amidst all the injuries on the left side and the 21-year-old was skating in a top pairing with Charlie McAvoy at practice.

– The Bruins went 1-for-3 on the powerplay on Sunday and are now 15-for-50 on the man advantage. They’re sixth in the NHL with a 30 percent success rate.

-The Boston Bruins PK managed to survive the loss of Jeremy Lauzon in Sunday’s game and held the Flyers to a 1-for-3 performance on the PP. They’ve now killed 50 of 57 powerplay attempts against and are second on the PK in the NHL with an 87.7 percent success rate.

 

Islanders Notes

– It’s been the Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anders Lee Show for the Islanders this month as the two-some has combined for 11 goals in nine games for the Islanders. JGP has scored a team-high six goals this month with Lee just behind him with five goals scored while Josh Bailey leads the team with six helpers this month. Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock has five assists and is a team-best plus-6 this month for the Islanders while leading with 22:52 of ice time.

– Jaroslav Halak will be playing the Islanders for the first time playing with the team after the 2017-18 season. Halak has excellent career numbers against the Isles with a 7-1-1 record and a pair of shutouts but hasn’t played against the Islanders in any fashion in seven years. So, it should be interesting to see the Bruins backup play against his former longtime team.

-The Islanders are 13th in the NHL in powerplay with a 23.1 percent success rate and 15th in the NHL with an 80 percent success rate on the penalty kill.

-Michael Dal Colle remains out of the lineup for the Islanders tonight and he is day-to-day.

Boston Bruins Lines

Forwards:

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith

Anders Bjork – Jack Studnicka – Jake DeBrusk

Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner

Defense:

Urho Vaakanainen – Charlie McAvoy

Jakub Zboril – Brandon Carlo

John Moore – Connor Clifton

Goalies:

Jaroslav Halak

Tuukka Rask

New York Islanders Lines

Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle

Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey

Austin Czarnik — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom

Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock

Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield

Andy Greene — Noah Dobson

Semyon Varlamov

Ilya Sorokin

Thanks to NYI Hockey Now writer Christian Arnold for the Islanders lines, pairings and probables for tonight’s game.

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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