The Boston Bruins head to South Bend looking to carry some momentum into the New Year after winning a thrilling game in overtime over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
Boston will play in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, and will round out its week with tilts against the Calgary Flames and the Sabres. The Black and Gold have gotten healthier over the last week with the return of Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Jake DeBrusk, but have been without Charlie McAvoy (lower body) and Brad Marchand (upper body).
The B’s are hanging on to the top wild card spot in the Atlantic Division after going 7-7-0 in the month of December, and will look to keep climbing in the standings during their three-game week, which begins a stretch with seven of their next nine games at home.
Let’s take a look at the games the B’s have on their plate:
Tuesday, Jan. 1 vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 1 p.m. ET
Boston will be playing in its third Winter Classic when it takes the ice at Notre Dame Stadium in an Original Six matchup against the Blackhawks. Chicago looks to turn its luck around and win its first Winter Classic in four appearances. The B’s are 1-1 when playing in the Classic.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has yet to name a goalie for the tilt. McAvoy is questionable, while Marchand likely will play after missing Saturday’s game, which will provide an offensive boost to the top line with David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron.
The Blackhawks are having a lackluster season and sit sixth in the Central Division with a 15-20-6 record. They’ve won four of their last five, however, scoring five goals twice during that stretch. Boston is 2-2-0 in its last four contests.
The Bruins will need to find a way to contain Patrick Kane, who has a seven-game point streak heading into Tuesday’s game with five goals, including a hat trick against the Minnesota Wild.
Thursday, Jan. 3 vs. Calgary Flames, 7 p.m. ET
The B’s will have a tough task when they welcome the Calgary Flames to TD Garden. The Flames are atop the Pacific Division and dismantled Boston 5-2 in October.
Calgary, however, has lost four of its last five games heading into its New Year’s Eve matchup against the San Jose Sharks. The Flames also will need to get through the Detroit Red Wings before traveling to Boston, while the B’s have a day off between games.
Both Johnny Gaudreau and Noah Hanifin accounted for a point in Calgary’s win against Boston, and the B’s will have their hands full with Gaudreau, who has 19 goals and 32 assists.
Saturday, Jan. 5 vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET
The Bruins will continue their homestand against a familiar foe in the Sabres to round out the week, and will be getting back a veteran winger in the process. David Backes will be eligible to return from his three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of the New Jersey Devils’ Blake Coleman.
The two teams will meet for the fourth and final time this regular season as the B’s look to take the series 3-1. Boston has been able to contain Sabres star Jack Eichel, who’s amassed only four points in three games against the B’s this season, with all four coming in Buffalo’s 4-2 win on Dec. 16.
This very well could be a crucial Atlantic Division matchup, as the Sabres sit just above the Bruins in third place. Buffalo will take on the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers before paying Boston a visit, but the B’s potentially could take over third place or at least tie depending on how the rest of the week unfolds.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images