The Boston Bruins (20-11-2, 42 pts), will try for a season-high fourth straight win and their sixth win in their last eight games when they host the Philadelphia Flyers (13-15-7, 33 pts) at TD Garden on Thursday night (7 pm, ESPN, TVAS).
While the recent play from the Bruins has fans and media buzzing about the team more, that buzz will be even louder tonight with the return of the winningest goalie in Boston Bruins franchise history. Tuukka Rask makes his grand return and 2021-22 season debut for the Bruins tonight. Rask signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the B’s this past Tuesday that will pay him just $545,000.
“I do believe there is a certain electricity, a certain buzz,” Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media Thursday morning. “We feel he’s going to make us better at that position. That’s why the decision was made. We’re happy to have him. Let’s go.”
As a result of the Rask signing Tuesday, rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman was reassigned to the Providence Bruins in the AHL Wednesday, and Rask and fellow Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark will split the goaltending duties in Boston.
The Flyers come into this game having not played for five days and recently got five players back from NHL COVID Protocol. Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Travis Konecny, and Justin Braun came off the COVID-19 protocol list Wednesday. However, Rasmus Ristolainen is still on it. The Flyers are also missing some key players who are injured, including Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis, and Derick Brassard.
This is the second game between the Flyers and Bruins with the Flyers beating the Bruins 6-3 in Philadelphia back on October 20.
There’s no value in betting the Boston Bruins (-270) on the side tonight or even on the puck line (-115) but with Rask back in the net and not having played since June 9, 2021, the Bruins will likely tighten up their team defense to account for any rust for Rask. This may be the night the Bruins offense slows down a bit and with a depleted Flyers roster on the other side, the Over 6 (-105) is the play here.
Prediction: Bruins 2 Flyers 0
Boston Bruins Notes
-The Bruins have now outscored their opponents 33-16 over their last seven games. The Boston Bruins have also scored five goals or more in five of those seven games.
-Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and a staff member were placed in COVID Protocol late Thursday afternoon and defenseman Jack Achan was recalled from Providence.
-Bruins defenseman John Moore will not play tonight and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Forward Nick Foligno (lower-body) got better news than expected from his MRI on Tuesday and will not be out as long as originally feared. Forward Trent Frederic (upper-body) is also out again tonight. Defenseman Jakub Zboril is out for the season after successful surgery for a torn ACL last month.
-As a result of the Moore injury, Tyler Lewington will make his Bruins debut tonight and skate on the third pairing with Urho Vaakanainen.
-Brad Marchand is en Fuego! With his hat trick against the Canadiens on Wednesday night, Marchand has now scored two or more goals in three straight games and he has eight goals and an assist in his last four games. Marchand leads the Boston Bruins in goals (19), assists (20), and points with 39.
-Since becoming linemates with Erik Haula and Pastrnak, Taylor Hall has found his groove with two goals and six assists in six games.
-This is the second of a seven-game home stretch for the Boston Bruins. After tonight’s tilt with the Flyers, the Bruins host the Flyers Thursday, the Nashville Predators in a 1 PM matinee on Saturday, the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals on Jan. 20, the Winnipeg Jets in a 3 PM ET matinee on Jan. 22 and then the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 24.
Philadelphia Flyers Notes
-As mentioned above, this is the first game in five days for the Flyers as their Tuesday matchup against Carolina was postponed for COVID-related reasons, so this will be their first game since Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose.
-Former Boston College star forward Cam Atkinson, who leads the Flyers with 14 goals, has a four-game points streak, with two goals and four assists over that span.
-Carter Hart (10-7-4, 2.92 GAA, .912 save percentage), will try to rebound from a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins a week ago.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Craig Smith
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Oskar Steen
Anton Blidh – Tomas Nosek – Curtis Lazar
Mike Reilly – Charlie McAvoy
Urho Vaakanainen– Brandon Carlo
Jack Achan – Tyler Lewington
Philadelphia Flyers Lines:
Joel Farabee – Claude Giroux – Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk – Kevin Hayes – Travis Konecny
Jackson Kates – Scott Laughton – Oskar Lindblom
Maxwell Willman – Morgan Frost – Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov – Travis Sanheim
Cam York – Justin Braun
Keith Yandle – Nick Seeler