The Bruins will play their second game in as many nights Thursday at the Garden when they host Calgary, and to help keep the team’s legs fresh during this challenging stretch of the schedule, the Bruins did not hold a morning skate.
Without a skate there was no official word on the goaltending, but Tuukka Rask is likely to get the start after Tim Thomas stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced in Wednesday’s 6-1 rout of the Devils in New Jersey. That lopsided score helped coach Claude Julien spread out the minutes and rest some of his players in the later portions of the game, which should help them.
“I think that’s one of the thing I tried to do in the third period when we scored that fourth goal and seemed to have control of the game,” Julien said. “I really tried to spread the ice time and keep us as fresh as possible for tonight. We have a team waiting for us at home. You have to play back-to-back games. We’ve done it before, throughout the whole league everyone plays back-to-back games, and you have to look at the situation and make the best of it. We were fortunate that we had enough cushion to do it, because other times you’d probably end up pushing lines or certain players more to win that game and sometimes it affects you the next game. You have to live in the moment and do that, but fortunately we weren’t in that position last night.”
The Bruins are also in an enviable position with their goaltending, where they can use either Thomas or Rask without any dropoff in play and keep both netminders fresh. That will be especially important for Thomas, who won’t get a break later this month as Thursday morning it was announced that he was elected a starter for the upcoming All-Star Game.
“When you look at Tuukka’s game, he’s certainly capable of handling some games and playing well,” Julien said, “and so far he’s played as well as Timmy has, so Timmy will get his rest. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s an honor for him to be voted as a starter and well deserved. … It’s a thrill to be there, it’s enjoyable and well find him rest in other places because we have the luxury of having a great goaltender in Tuukka that can certainly handle more games than he’s given.”
The back-to-back games do raise a concern for forward Rich Peverley, as he missed two recent games and a number of practices dealing with a nagging, undisclosed injury. But Julien said it will not be an issue for Peverley on Thursday, so no lineup changes are expected. That leaves Zach Hamill and Steven Kampfer as the healthy scratches.
“He’ll definitely go and last night, even in the third period I asked him [and] he felt great,” Julien said of Peverley. “There were no issues at all. I could have sat him if I wanted to but there were no issues at all. It’s a very manageable situation, and when we had that long break it gave us the opportunity to manage it even better. The way things are going, it was the right thing to do at the time. He’s good, he really is good. I don’t anticipate any major issues with him. Again, it’s hard for you guys because it’s an undisclosed injury and you’re trying to figure how bad it is and I understand that, but it’s a very manageable situation and he’s good to go.”
Calgary is expected to start Leland Irving in goal and enforcer Raitis Ivanans should make his season debut after clearing re-entry waivers on Wednesday. Ivanans has not played in the NHL since suffering a concussion in a fight with then-Edmonton enforcer Steve MacIntyre in last year’s season opener.
Calgary will have to play without forward Rene Bourque, who will be serving the first game of a five-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom on Tuesday. That further depletes a Flames lineup already without forwards Alex Tanguay (undisclosed), David Moss (foot) and Matt Stajan (ankle), defensemen Mark Giordano (hamstring), Derek Smith (ankle) and Brett Carson (upper body) and goalie Henrik Karlsson (knee).
Steve Kozari and Wes McCauley will be the referees, with Derek Nansen and Tony Sericolo 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 Flames lines
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau-Mikael Backlund-Lee Stempniak
Rairis Ivanans-Brendan Morrison-Tom Kostopoulos
Paul Byron-Roman Horak-Tim Jackman
TJ Brodie-Cory Sarich
Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Scott Hannan-Anton Babchuk
Scratches: Rene Bourque (suspension), Clay Wilson