Today is the first Bruins game after the Christmas break, and they are hosting the New Jersey Devils.
The last two games we watched were against the Devils and the Hurricanes — two bad teams — and the Bruins lost both. This isn’t a good thing, as these are two of the very worst teams in the conference.
At least we finally got Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Jake DeBrusk back.
Well, last game, we saw the “usual” forward lines of Marhcand-Bergeron-Pastrnak and Heinen-Krejci-Debrusk, new classic line Donato-Cave-Backes and trusty leftovers Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner, with Nordy & Heinen swapping places on at least one set of shifts. However there are two new complications – First, Brad Marchand has an upper body injury, and missed practice on Friaday. He is expected to travel to Buffalo, but is unlikely to play. Second – David backes made a high hit on the Devils’ Blake Coleman, and even though it was penalized at the time, he was been flagged for supplemental discipline
Boston’s David Backes has been suspended for three games for an illegal check to the head on New Jersey’s Blake Coleman. https://t.co/hpBwU4gKmK
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 28, 2018
As you can see, Backes tags Coleman’s head with his shoulder. Coleman is low, but Backes could probably have avoided the hit. I could easily see this going either way. Dept of Player Safety explanation seemed rather perfunctory, and ignores the fact that Coleman’s head is moving lower as he fires off a pass. Regardless, the normal punishment for this sort of thing would be one game, but Backes got 3 games because he’s a “repeat offender”, which will cause him to miss the Winter Classic.
Let’s examine this history for a moment…
In March, Backes made a late hit on Franz Nielson, and got penalized, then suspended for 3 games by DOPS. At the time he had no previous history of suspensions or fines.
Boston’s David Backes suspended three games for interference on Detroit’s Frans Nielsen. https://t.co/TaN0CGiY8v
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 7, 2018
As you can see, the hit is clearly late, but Nielsen’s head is obviously not the main point of contact, and DOPS notes that Backes pulled up. This was a controversial suspension at the time – possibly a reaction to Nielsen getting knocked loopy and being unable to return to the game. Unfortunately it got an oddly controversial player “into the system”.
With Backes suspended, we expect Anders Bjork to be called up, though Bjork would likely come in as a left wing while Backes has been playing on the right side. However, as of this morning, Bjork has not been called up, leaving Jakub Forsbacka-Karlsson as the last available forward. I think we can expect the bottom-six forward lineups to rotate throughout the game with Acciari, Kuraly or Nordstom breaking up the all-kids 3rd line.
Also missing will be defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who is nursing a lower body injury (and reportedly was in a walking boot). He is traveling to Buffalo, but did not participate in Friday practices and will not play in today’s game.
|Bruins Forward Lines|
|Bruins Defensive pairs|
|#40 Tuukka Rask||(#41 Jaroslav Halak)|
This evening’s opponent are the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have gone on an impressive win streak since first time these two teams met, leapfrogging the Bruins in the standings. They are now at 21-12-5 for 47 points, or a 3 point lead on the Bs. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and winger Jason Pominville are both out with recent upper body injuries. Pominville did practice on Friday, but it is not guaranteed that he will play this evening.
(h/t Daily Faceoff):
#53 Jeff Skinner — #9 Jack Eichel — #23 Sam Reinhart
#43 Conor Sheary — #37 Casey Mittelstadt — #21 Kyle Okposo
#72 Tage Thompson — #17 Vladimir Sobotka — #29 Jason Pominville
#71 Evan Rodrigues — #22 Johan Larsson — #28 Zemgus Girgensons
(#81 Remi Elie)
#24 Lawrence Pilut — #55 Rasmus Ristolainen
#6 Marco Scandella — #4 Zach Bogosian
#26 Rasmus Dahlin — #19 Jake McCabe
#40 Carter Hutton
(#35 Linus Ullmark)