BRIGHTON, MA – The Boston Bruins got back to work on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena and they had a full complement of players.
David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm rejoined the practice group at Warrior after sitting out Sunday’s practice following their return to the lineup in Saturday afternoon’s matinee win over the New York Rangers. That meant the line combinations and defense pairings at practice were the same as they were against the Blueshirts over the weekend and that defenseman Mike Reilly and Marc McLaughlin were going to be the healthy scratches on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.
With three games remaining in the regular season, it’s fair to wonder whether this would be the opening night lineup for the Stanley Cup playoffs if everybody remains healthy for the next week. Either way, the Boston Bruins were looking at Monday’s showdown with the high-powered Panthers as an excellent test for their defense ahead of the postseason.
“This is the most explosive offensive team arguably in the NHL that we’re facing,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the match with a Panthers team that ranks 1st in the NHL while averaging a ridiculous 4.16 goals per game. “So the measure will be in our checking game to see how we’re looking in that department. We’ve done a really good job with that in the second half of the year.”
The Panthers just had a 13-game winning streak snapped with an 8-4 loss to the Lightning and have won 16 of their last 18 games dating back to around the time they picked up Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot at the NHL trade deadline.
There will be playoff implications on the line as the Panthers can clinch the President’s Trophy with a win over the Bruins and guarantee themselves home ice throughout the postseason. The Carolina Hurricanes could also clinch the Metro Division and essentially lock in the Boston Bruins as their first-round opponent in the playoffs as well.
Boston Bruins netminder Linus Ullmark will get the start for Boston and look to build on his strong return to the B’s lineup on Saturday when he made 30 saves in the victory over the Rangers. Here’s the projected Boston Bruins lineup against the Rangers based on morning skate: