The Bruins will close out the calendar year with some familiar faces back in the lineup.
Rich Peverley is expected to return to face the Stars in Dallas on Saturday night after missing two games with an undisclosed injury, while Tim Thomas will get the start in goal after an extended rest over the holidays.
Peverley has also sat out practices for the last couple of weeks, but rejoined his teammates Thursday for the club’s workout in Phoenix before leaving for Dallas and is ready to get back into game action. He’s not completely healed, though, as the nagging injury is something that he will have to monitor for the foreseeable future.
“Yeah he’s ready to go,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters after the morning skate. “He felt good this morning and yesterday, and it’s been going as scheduled I guess. He’s as good as he’s going to be.”
With Peverley back, Zach Hamill will be the scratch up front, while Steven Kampfer remains the odd man out on defense.
Thomas will play for the first time since beating Montreal on Dec. 19. Tuukka Rask has started the last two games while Thomas got a rare in-season chance to recharge his batteries. Thomas is still among the league leaders with a 16-5-0 record, 1.84 GAA and .943 save percentage, though Rask has actually taken over the NHL lead in both GAA (1.61) and save percentage (.945).
The Stars will counter with Kari Lehtonen (13-5-1, 2.38 GAA, .924 save percentage), who returned Thursday after missing 12 games with a groin injury.
Dallas will also have captain Brenden Morrow in the lineup. He was questionable after taking a shot off the leg in Thursday’s game with Columbus, but is expected to play.
The Stars will have Jake Dowell back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last three games. He’s far from a heavyweight, but he does lead the Stars with four fighting majors and will add a bit of a physical presence if things get nasty as they have in past encounters between the clubs. Last year in Boston, there were three fights in the first four seconds of the game, while their 2008 meeting featured 146 combined penalty minutes. This Dallas roster doesn’t have the firepower to match the Bruins in that regard, though, so this game might be a little more peaceful.
Stephane Auger and Mike Leggo will be the referees attempting to keep peace, with Shane Heyer and Brad Lazarowich working the lines.
Projected Bruins lines
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Zach Hamill, Steven Kampfer
Projected Stars lines
Loui Eriksson-Jamie Benn-Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow-Mike Ribeiro-Steve Ott
Eric Nystrom-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell-Tom Wandell-Adam Burish
Nicklas Grossman-Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski-Philip Larsen
Mark Fistric-Adam Pardy
Scratches: Toby Petersen, Sheldon Souray (ankle), Stephane Robidas (lower body)