The Boston Bruins (33-18-4, 70 pts) will finish off their longest road trip of the season when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets (28-25-2, 58 pts) for a tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets on the night the Blue Jackets are honoring Rick Nash.
The Bruins are hot off a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night when Craig Smith scored his first hat trick of the season and Boston’s new-look third line of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and Smith put together a dominant performance. It was enough to give Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy some flashbacks to the 2019 run to the Stanley Cup Final when Coyle and Marcus Johansson gave the B’s a viable, dangerous third line.
“It takes me back to the  playoffs,” said Cassidy, after Boston’s win over the Golden Knights. “[After] the Coyle and [Marcus Johansson] trades years ago, we had three lines going offensively, and our fourth line was built to kill penalties and give us energy. We have that. And now, if that line can generate, we become dangerous like that offensively.
“Good teams need secondary support. You need your [top] guys, but you’re not going to lean on your fourth line every night to generate offense. But now our third line comes through, and if that can be a thing that you can get through some games where your top guys aren’t going or you don’t get on the power play much or generate on it…then you’re going to be dangerous, right? We don’t need necessarily a great amount of offense from them but pitching in is going to help us a lot and that’s what they’ve been able to do.”
Boston Bruins rookie goalie and the NHL Rookie Of The Month for February, Jeremy Swayman will be looking for his sixth straight win as he stays between the pipes for the B’s. Swayman has gone 5-0-0 with a 1.19 GAA and .959 save percentage over his last five appearances. He’s 14-7-3 overall with a 1.95 GAA and .930 save percentage this season and ranks top-5 in both goals against average and save percentage this season.
Elvis Merzlikins (19-14-2, 3.41 goals against average and .904 save percentage) will be getting the start in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Boston Bruins Notes
-Curtis Lazar (upper body) will return to the Boston Bruins fourth line after missing the last handful of games with an injury. Jesper Froden had done a good job playing in his place since being called up by the Providence Bruins.
-David Pastrnak rolls into Vegas as the hottest Bruin with a seven-game point streak in tow. Pastrnak has seven goals and four assists during that span and now leads the Boston Bruins with 56 points on the season.
Blue Jackets Notes
-The Blue Jackets are retiring Rick Nash’s No. 61, the first jersey retirement in the history of the Columbus franchise. Nash played mostly for the Blue Jackets in his NHL career but ended things with the Boston Bruins making it the perfectly fitting night to honor one of the NHL’s most skilled power forwards.
“It’s pretty special,” said current Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner. “I didn’t play with him, but just being in Columbus for nine years, you recognize how big of a presence he was in Columbus for this organization, for the team, for so many years. He put Columbus on the map. I remember getting drafted here, and when you think of Columbus, it was Rick Nash.”
-Sean Kuraly will be suiting up for his first game against his former Boston Bruins teammates and said he was “very, very thankful” for all that he learned during his time with the B’s as a fourth line center.
-The Blue Jackets are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games but are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings where Victor Arvidsson capped off his hat trick with the game-winner.
Boston Bruins Lines:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Nick Foligno-Tomas Nosek-Curtis Lazar
Mike Reilly – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Blue Jackets Lines:
Gustav Nyquist – Boone Jenner – Patrik Laine
Jakub Voracek – Jack Roslovic – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Max Domi – Sean Kuraly – Justin Danforth
Zach Werenski – Andrew Peeke