The Boston Bruins (14-9-2, 30 pts) travel to the massively underachieving New York Islanders (7-12-5, 19 points) for a potential bounce-back game in their first trip to UBS Arena. (7:35 PM ET, NESN, MSG Network, ESPN+)
The Bruins are trying to rebound from a bad 4-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night at TD Garden that snapped a five-game point streak coming off a strong three-game road trip through Western Canada. They’ll do it again on the road with a three-game trip through Long Island, Montreal and Ottawa over the next four days amidst a pretty grueling stretch for them.
The Bruins will stay in Long Island overnight Thursday and actually practice in New York on Friday prior to leaving for Canada while awaiting more potential positive COVID-19 tests after six players and one staff member have been placed in COVID protocol over the last three days following a game against the Calgary Flames last weekend.
This is the first meeting between the Islanders and Bruins since the Isles eliminated Boston with a 4-2 series win in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring. Kyle Palmieri (four goals), Mat Barzal (three goals, six points) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (six points) led the way on the scoresheet against Boston.
Linus Ullmark (7-4-0, 2.56 goals against average and .921 save percentage) gets the starting nod for the Bruins while Jeremy Swayman is unavailable due to COVID protocol.
Boston Bruins Notes
– Linus Ullmark will get the start on Thursday night against the Islanders with Jeremy Swayman unavailable in COVID protocol. Ullmark is in the midst of his best stretch of the season and is 2-0-0 with a 2.00 goals against average and .953 save percentage during the month of December. Kyle Keyser will serve as the backup after being called up from Providence and could be in line to get his first NHL start this weekend with back-to-back road games against Montreal and Ottawa.
-Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic and Jeremy Swayman have all been lost due to positive COVID-19 tests over the last few days. All are expected to miss games over the next two weeks.
-After suiting up for the last few games after being recalled from Providence, the Bruins had to send John Moore back to Providence for salary cap reasons amidst the flurry of transactions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That means Mike Reilly will draw back in after being a healthy scratch the last few games. Reilly has two goals and two assists in 22 games this season.
-Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril will miss his fifth straight game since suffering a nasty knee injury against the Nashville Predators on December 2.
-Jesper Froden will be making his NHL debut for the Bruins on Thursday night after being called up amid the COVID outbreak and could get some PP time at the bumper position.
New York Islanders Notes
-Anthony Beauvillier has struggled this season with three goals and seven points in 22 games with a minius-6 rating this season, and there have been whispers of trade rumors with him. It remains to be seen if that materializes, but meanwhile the Islanders are still trying to get more production out of him right now.
“He’s a veteran player that’s still young. You want to get past some of those inconsistencies,” said Islanders head coach Barry Trotz. “He ended up in the high teens for goals in that [first] year and it’s just a matter of getting that out. He’s a core player for us. When guys are out, you’ve got to find a way to reach that next level and produce.”
-Mat Barzal has been placed in the COVID protocol for the New York Islanders and former Boston Bruins farmhand Austin Czarnik has been called up from Bridgeport.
-New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin is expected to get the start after making 37 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
-The New York Islanders had to clarify a comment from head coach Barry Trotz on Thursday morning that all Islanders players had received a COVID-19 booster shot. Apparently, that is not actually true.
#Isles Update: This morning Head Coach Barry Trotz said that the entire team had gotten the COVID-19 booster shot. That statement is not true. The organization has offered the booster shot to the entire team & will continue to educate & recommend that everyone consider receiving.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 16, 2021
-For more information on the Knights go check out our sister site on Long Island, NYI Hockey Now.
Boston Bruins Lines
Taylor Hall-Charlie Coyle-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-Jack Studnicka-Oskar Steen
Erik Haula-Tomas Nosek-Nick Foligno
Jesper Froden-Curtis Lazar-Karson Kuhlman
Derek Forbort-Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk-Brandon Carlo
Mike Reilly-Connor Clifton
New York Islanders Lines
Anthony Beauvillier–Brock Nelson–Josh Bailey
Anders Lee–Jean-Gabriel Pageau–Kyle Palmieri
Kieffer Bellows–Zach Parise–Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin–Casey Cizikas–Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech–Scott Mayfield
Zdeno Chara–Noah Dobson
Andy Greene–Robin Salo