When something is working, why mess with the formula?
That certainly appears to be the thinking of Bruins coach Claude Julien, who doesn't expect to make any lineup changes for Saturday night's game at Ottawa after Thursday's impressive 2-0 win over Toronto, Boston's fifth win in its last six games.
The Bruins (5-2-0, 10 points) held an optional morning skate and Tim Thomas did not participate, but Julien told reporters afterward that the red-hot netminder would be in goal again on Saturday.
"He's been good for us. He's really been good," said Julien, as reported by the Boston Globe. "He's at the top of his game. He feels great. It's a long season, so we've got a hot goaltender here that we're probably going to ride tonight."
That's a departure from Julien's usual practice of refusing to comment on his plans in goal for any particular game, but when a goalie is as hot as Thomas is right now, it's hard for even Julien to ignore the obvious.
Thomas is 5-0-0 with an NHL-best 0.60 GAA, a .981 save percentage and two shutouts through five starts. He's also 16-7-2 with a 2.10 GAA, a .932 save percentage and four shutouts in his career against Ottawa.
As for the rest of the lineup, expect the line combinations to remain the same for a seventh straight game. With former Senators tough guy Brian McGrattan on a conditioning assignment in Providence this weekend, Daniel Paille will be the only healthy scratch up front.
With Johnny Boychuk out with a fractured forearm, there are no healthy scratches on the blue line either, as Adam McQuaid will play his second game of the season.
The Senators (4-5-1, 9 points) will get one key player back, but also lose another top forward. Center Jason Spezza skated this morning and will return after missing four games with a groin injury. He'll join Peter Regin and Alex Kovalev on the second line.
Nick Foligno had been on that line, but he's moved up to the first line with Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson as Milan Michalek will be out of the lineup for about a week with tendonitis in his left knee. The Bruins won't miss Michalek, as he has five goals in eight career games against Boston.
Injured goalie Pascal Leclaire (groin) and defenseman Filip Kuba (broken leg) both skated Saturday morning, but will remain out. Brian Elliott is expected to start in goal, with Robin Lehner dressing as the backup.
Projected Bruins lines:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron-Patrice Bergeron-Blake Wheeler
Mark Recchi-Tyler Seguin-Michael Ryder
Shawn Thornton-Gregory Campbell-Brad Marchand
Zdeno Chara- Andrew Ference
Mark Stuart- Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Hunwick-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk (forearm)
Projected Senators lines:
Nick Foligno-Mike Fisher-daniel Alfredsson
Peter Regin-Jason Spezza-Alex Kovalev
Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil
Ryan Shannon-Zack Smith-Jesse Winchester
Chris Phillips-Sergei Gonchar
Chris Campoli-Matt Carkner
David Hale-Erik Carlson
Scratches: Brian Lee, Milan Michalek (knee)