Here’s your Boston Hockey Now Boston Bruins Game Day Preview:
Boston Bruins (11-2-0, 22 pts) vs Calgary Flames (5-5-2, 12 pts)
TIME: 7 P.M. ET,
TV: NESN, ESPN+
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub
The storyline for Thursday night’s showdown between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames will be the return of No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy to the lineup after missing the first 13 games of the season rehabbing from shoulder surgery. The Bruins clearly haven’t missed McAvoy all that much given the way they’ve played over the first month, but there’s also plenty of anticipation at a Boston back end that will include McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm moving forward.
“His biggest strength, just how he impacts the game in all three zones,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, when asked how McAvoy impacts the game upon his return. “It doesn’t seem like he takes a second off, whether it’s he’s pressuring pucks, he’s ending plays, he’s hitting someone or he’s taking the puck through from the breakout through neutral zone, kicking it out and driving to the net for getting a chance at the net.”
Clearly it’s a situation of the “rich getting richer” based on where the Boston Bruins sit in the standings, but it will also be interesting to see how he assimilates into a back end group that had been playing some very good hockey without him. In theory having both McAvoy and Lindholm on different pairs means that the Bruins could have a legit No. 1 defenseman on the ice nearly all the time throughout a 60-minute hockey game.
But it may take a few games before the Boston Bruins get into a rhythm while reintroducing such a key player that will skate in all situations. The bottom line, though, is that most Bruins prognosticators predicted that the Bruins would struggle in the first few months of the season while Brad Marchand and McAvoy recuperated from injuries, and like the midterm elections things went far differently than anybody predicted.
Boston Bruins Notes
– Linus Ullmark will be making his fourth straight start for the Bruins. Ullmark tied Tim Thomas for the best start by a goalie in Bruins team history but then suffered his first loss of the season last weekend in Toronto with a 26-save performance. Ullmark bounced back with 26 saves in a 3-1 win for the Boston Bruins on Monday night vs. the Blues.
-Boston Bruins defenseman Mike Reilly successfully cleared waivers on Thursday and will be headed to Providence to make room for Charlie McAvoy’s return to the lineup.
-Defenseman Derek Forbort had surgery on his middle finger and is out four to six weeks, and goalie Jeremy Swayman is week-to-week with a lower-body injury that appeared to be a knee issue when he got hurt. Keith Kinkaid is up from Providence and is expected to make his Boston Bruins debut this weekend when the B’s have back-to-back games.
-Welcome back Milan Lucic, who always gets a warm welcome from Boston Bruins fans when he returns to the Boston home he kept for the first seven years of his career. It’s a cool story as Lucic brought his wife and two of his daughters on the road trip with him to visit Boston for the first time since he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings.
“It’s one of those sports towns that you can’t really explain unless you’re in it,” said Lucic, of the Boston experience. “They live and die by it, so whether it’s the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, they have your back 100% and if the team’s rolling, then the city and fans are rolling with you. The fans are a big reason what makes this place so hard to play in. I think it’s a reason why (the Bruins) have gotten off to such a good start as well.
“Obviously it’s a big game for us, not being able to get a win on this road trip when we felt we had two really good games. It just gets tougher with an opponent that’s first in the league and 7-0 at home so, you know what this game means for us, for this road trip. We are on a losing streak so we want to get back in the win column. Sometimes you have to use it as motivation when you’re playing the best team in the league. So, lots to play for, lots to get motivated for.”
-The Calgary Flames will be extremely hungry for a “W” as losers of six straight games (0-4-2) after a hot start to the regular season.
-There will be plenty of Flames players with local connections as Kevin Rooney, Daniel Vladar and Noah Hanifin will also be suiting up against the Bruins as well.
Boston Bruins Lineup:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Nick Foligno-Charlie Coyle-Pavel Zacha
Trent Frederic-Tomas Nosek-Craig Smith
Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm-Connor Clifton
Jakub Zboril-Brandon Carlo
Calgary Flames Lineup:
Adam Ruzicka-Elias Lindholm-Tyler Toffoli
Dillon Dube-Nazem Kadri-Blake Coleman
Andrew Magiapane-Mikael Backlund-Trevor Lewis
Milan Lucic-Kevin Rooney-Brett Ritchie
Noah Hanifin-Rasmus Andersson
Nikita Zadorov-MacKenzie Weegar
Dennis Gilbert-Nick DeSimone