The Bruins begin their final week of regular-season action with a potential playoff preview in New York.
They face a Rangers team currently eighth in the East, but just two points out of sixth. Boston occupies the third spot in the conference after locking up the Northeast Division crown and will face the sixth-place team in the opening round if they stay in that position. But the Bruins are just four points behind both Washington and Philadelphia, and could move into one of those top two spots with a big final week.
The Bruins will play Monday’s game with pretty close to their full playoff roster. Steven Kampfer and Shane Hnidy will sit out on defense. They will likely see some action later this week to stay sharp if needed in the postseason, but aren’t likely to get into any playoff games unless there is an injury on defense.
Up front, Shawn Thornton will likely play in the postseason if healthy, but he will remain out for this one. He still has not received medical clearance to play after taking a skate to the forehead last Tuesday. Thornton needed more than 40 stitches to close the cut and the area around his right eye remains swollen.
Bruins coach Claude Julien described Thornton as “doubtful” for Monday’s game, telling reporters after the morning skate, “I don’t think we’re 100 percent comfortable medically” with letting Thornton play yet.
That morning skate was an optional workout. Thornton did skate, joining Hnidy, Kampfer, Michael Ryder and Tuukka Rask. Rask’s presence to get some extra work indicates that Tim Thomas will likely get the start in this one.
Henrik Lundqvist will almost assuredly get the start in the net opposite Thomas. Lundqvist has started a career-high 23 straight games, and with the Rangers still battling for their playoff lives he’s unlikely to get a night off any time soon. Lundqvist is also 15-5-2 with a 1.43 GAA, .950 save percentage and five shutouts against the Bruins, including a 1-0 victory in Boston on March 26.
The Rangers, who beat Philadelphia 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday, also had just an optional skate on Monday morning. Injured forwards Derek Boogaard (concussion) and Chris Drury (knee) were joined by Michael Sauer, Erik Christensen, Matt Gilroy and backup goalie Chad Johnson.
Gilroy is expected to be the Rangers’ scratch on defense for the sixth straight game. Up front, Kris Newbury was recalled from the AHL on Monday. His addition could indicate that a forward is unable to play due to injury, possibly Ruslan Fedotenko, who was banged up on a big hit by Flyers defenseman Brandon Coburn on Sunday.
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Rich Peverley-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Greg Campbell-Michael Ryder
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Shawn Thornton (facial laceration), Steven Kampfer, Shane Hnidy
Projected Rangers lines
Vinny Prospal-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Brandon Prust
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brian Boyle-Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery-Erik Christensen-Wojtek Wolski
Marc Staal-Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh-Mike Sauer
Bryan McCabe-Steve Eminger
Scratches: Kris Newbury, Matt Gilroy Chris Drury (knee), Derek Boogaard (concussion)