BOSTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn't know exactly what his lineup will look like for Thursday's clash with Tampa Bay.
He won't know for sure until after an afternoon sitdown with general manager Peter Chiarelli and the club's medical staff to determine whether or not Marc Savard is ready to return, but Julien is prepared regardless of the resolution of that meeting.
In fact, he's been ready for a long time for the possibilities. When asked if he had two lineups ready for Thursday based on whether Savard returned or not, Julien replied, "I've had that for a month."
There was no full morning skate, with just an optional workout attended by five Bruins instead. That included Savard and fellow injured forward Marco Sturm, who was reportedly traded to Los Angeles later in the morning. Daniel Paille, Jordan Caron and goalie Tuukka Rask also skated.
Paille was a healthy scratch Wednesday in Philadelphia and is expected to be out again in this one. Caron is the most likely candidate to sit if Savard plays. The Bruins would likely keep the combinations used against the Flyers if Savard remains out, but would reshuffle the lines significantly if he does play.
The presence of Rask in the workout would appear to indicate that Tim Thomas will start in goal again. That would hardly be a surprise, considering the fact that Thomas made 41 saves for his NHL-leading fifth shutout Wednesday against the Flyers. Julien likes to ride the hot hand when possible, and has started Thomas in the game following each of his previous four shutouts.
Mike Smith will get the start in goal for Tampa Bay. He comes in with an 8-4-0 record, 3.36 GAA and an .879 save percentage, but did post the win over the Bruins in Tampa on Nov. 22 when he stopped 26 of 27 shots he faced.
The Lightning got Simon Gagne back from a neck injury in their last game on Tuesday, further bolstering an already-potent forward corps led by Steven Stamkos (21-19-40) and Martin St. Louis (10-21-31).
Center Mattias Ritola remains questionable with an inner-ear problem that has caused balance issues. If he can't go, Tampa would likely dress seven defensemen, with Mathieu Roy returning to the lineup.
Projected Bruins lines:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Mark Recchi-Patrice Bergeron-Blake Wheeler
Brad Marchand-Tyler Seguin-Michael Ryder
Jordan Caron-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Andrew Ference
Dennis Seidenberg-Johnny Boychuk
Mark Stuart-Adam McQuaid
Scratches: Daniel Paille
Projected Lightning lines:
Steve Downie-Steven Stamkos-Marty St. Louis
Ryan Malone-Dominic Moore-Teddy Purcell
Simon Gagne-Mattias Ritola-Dana Tyrell
Adam Hall-Nate Thompson-Sean Bergenheim
Pavel Kubina-Mike Lundin
Victor Hedman-Brett Clark
Randy Jones-Mattias Ohlund
Scratches: Mathieu Roy
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