BOSTON — After falling to the Capitals 5-3 on Friday and traveling back from Washington overnight, the Bruins did not hold their traditional morning skate at the Garden on Saturday.
That leaves no telltale clues for Saturday night's lineup, but don't expect there to be any major changes. Tuukka Rask, who played the third period Friday for his first action in nearly two weeks, will likely get his first start since Oct. 23. That's not a reflection on Tim Thomas' play on Friday, as he was left hung out to dry by a Bruins squad in front of him that didn't show up until the third period. But Rask needs to see some action as well, and playing back-to-back games — and three in four nights — is the kind of stretch where a team needs to utilize both of its goalies, no matter how hot one of them has been.
Rask lost a 3-2 decision in his last start two weeks ago against the Rangers, and was also charged with the loss on Friday to fall to 0-3-0 on the year. But Rask looked sharp against the Caps, allowing just one goal on 13 shots.
The rest of Boston's lineup is likely to remain the same. After the loss, this could be a chance for Claude Julien to get healthy scratches Daniel Paille and Brian McGrattan into a game, but they both skated on their own this morning with injured players Marc Savard, Marco Sturm and Johnny Boychuk, so it doesn't appear the game-day roster will change for this one.
The Blues, who last played on Thursday when they beat San Jose 2-0 for their fifth straight win, did hold a morning skate at the Garden. Jaroslav Halak was the first goalie off the ice, indicating he will likely start on Saturday.
That's hardly a surprise, as Halak has posted three shutouts in his last four starts and is 7-1-1 with a 1.53 GAA and a .940 save percentage this year. The former Canadian is plenty familiar with the Bruins, as he is 5-3-0 record with a 1.99 GAA, .938 save percentage and two shutouts against Boston.
The Blues have been hit hard by injuries on the blue line, with defensemen Barret Jackman (knee), Roman Polak (right wrist surgery), Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion) and Nikita Nikitin (broken right wrist) all out. St. Louis had already called upon youngsters Tyson Strachan and Nathan Oystrick to fill in, and Friday the Blues recalled rookie Ian Cole after Jackman was injured against San Jose on Thursday.
Jackman was fourth on the team and third among defensemen in ice-time, averaging 20:07 a game. With him out and so many inexperienced players on the blue line, the Blues may not play with consistent pairs, instead mixing and matching partners similar to what the Bruins have done since Boychuk went down. That would help keep veterans Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson on the ice as much as possible. Other than those two, the other four St. Louis defensemen have combined for a total of 127 games of NHL experience, with Cole making his NHL debut on Saturday.
St. Louis will have one healthy scratch up front, which will likely remain tough guy Cam Janssen. It's been a tough year for Janssen, who suffered a concussion in the only game he played back on Oct. 9 when he was hit by teammate Brad Winchester. Janssen was activated for IR on Oct. 27, but has been a healthy scratch since.
He's in a similar situation as Boston's McGrattan, as the Blues have enough secondary toughness in Winchester, B.J. Crombeen and Strachan to handle most teams, and coach Davis Payne is probably reluctant to change up the lineup in the midst of a five-game win streak. But if Janssen does play, it could make for a dandy of a dustup with Shawn Thornton, as that pair of pugilists match up well both in terms of size and fighting styles.
Projected Bruins lines:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Jordan Caron-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler-Tyler Seguin-Michael Ryder
Brad Marchand-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Andrew Ference
Mark Stuart- Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Hunwick-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Daniel Paille, Brian McGrattan, Johnny Boychuk (forearm)
Projected Blues lines:
David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Patrik Berglund-Brad Boyes
Alex Steen-Jay McClement-Matt D'Agostini
Brad Winchester-Vladimir Sobotka-B.J. Crombeen
Eric Brewer-Erik Johnson
Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo
Nathan Oystrick-Tyson Strachan
Scratches: Cam Janssen
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