An immensely difficult back-to-back for the Boston Bruins begins Friday night in Anaheim against a Ducks team that blew out the B’s in their own building two months ago.
Boston failed to pick up a win in the opener of it’s three-game West Coast swing, losing 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. The Bruins are expected to tweak their lineup for Friday’s tilt, with right wing Brett Connolly moving up to the third line and Jimmy Hayes bumping down to the fourth.
Joining Connolly on that third line will be left wing Matt Beleksey, who spent his first seven pro seasons in the Ducks organization before signing with the Bruins in free agency last summer. Friday’s game will be his first visit to the Honda Center as a Bruin.
“It’s different,” Beleskey told reporters at morning skate, via BostonBruins.com. “It felt good to get out there this morning. Some familiar scenery. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be an exciting game.”
Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson is expected to get the nod against Anaheim, meaning Tuukka Rask likely will be in net for Saturday night’s matchup with the Los Angeles Kings.
The Ducks, who routed the Bruins 6-2 back on Jan. 26, have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams since late December, but they currently are in a bit of a slump, going 1-3-1 over their last five games.
UPDATE (10 p.m. ET): Rather than starting on the fourth line, Hayes was not in the lineup at all. He sat as a healthy scratch after going without a point in his last 10 games. Instead, Tyler Randell skated on the fourth line.
Here are Friday’s projected lines and pairings, as reported by the teams:
BOSTON BRUINS (39-24-8)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Lee Stempniak
Loui Eriksson — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey — Ryan Spooner — Brett Connolly
Landon Ferraro — Noel Acciari — Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara — Kevan Miller
John-Michael Liles — Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug — Adam McQuaid
ANAHEIM DUCKS (38-22-9)
Jamie McGinn — Ryan Getzlaf — Corey Perry
David Perron — Rickard Rakell — Brandon Pirri
Andrew Cogliano — Ryan Kesler — Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie — Shawn Horcoff — Ryan Garbutt
Cam Folwer — Simon Despres
Hampus Lindholm — Josh Manson
Clayton Stoner — Kevin Bieksa
Thumbnail photo via John Hefti/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins center David Krejci