Slowly but surely, the Boston Bruins are getting closer to full strength.
Patrice Bergeron and David Backes recently have returned to the lineup for the Bruins, who sit one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Eastern Conference. And when the B’s play the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on Saturday, they’re expected to have forward Jake DeBrusk back on the ice, as well.
DeBrusk has missed the last eight games while battling an upper-body injury, but he’ll slide back into his left-wing spot on the second line. That means rookie sensation Ryan Donato will move over to right wing alongside center David Krejci.
Although injured defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara won’t play Saturday, both will travel with the team to Philadelphia, and both could play Sunday against the Flyers.
Here are the projected lines and defensive pairings for Saturday’s Bruins-Panthers game:
BOSTON BRUINS (48-17-11)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk — David Krejci — Ryan Donato
Danton Heinen — Riley Nash — David Backes
Tim Schaller — Noel Acciari — Brian Gionta
Torey Krug — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — Kevan Miller
Nick Holden — Adam McQuaid
FLORIDA PANTHERS (39-29-8)
Evgenii Dadonov — Aleksander Barkov — Nick Bjugstad
Jonathan Huberdeau — Vincent Trocheck — Denis Malgin
Jamie McGinn — Henrik Borgstrom — Jared McCann
Micheal Haley — Derek MacKenzie — Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle — Aaron Ekblad
Mike Matheson — Mark Pysyk
MacKenzie Weegar — Alexander Petrovic