Bruins

Bruins "looking to push teams down" starting with three important games against Habs

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Bruins "looking to push teams down" starting with three important games against Habs

MONTREAL – The Bruins know they’re in a unique position coming out of their bye week with three games against their arch-rival Montreal Canadiens over the next seven days. The scorching hot Black and Gold are 17-3-3 in their last 23 games and ride an 11-game point streak that led into the last five days off. They currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with games in hand on all the rest of their divisional competitors.

The Montreal Canadiens have underachieved tremendously sitting eight points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot, a distant 13 points behind Boston despite having played two more games than the Black and Gold. If the Habs want to make noise for a playoff spot they need to begin winning games, and have to make up ground against the Bruins with three head-to-head games over the next week.

It’s not a stretch to say the Bruins could plunge a dagger into Montreal’s postseason hopes with a dominant showing in their upcoming three meetings, but B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t willing to go that far yet.

“To [talk of] ending someone’s season in January is a little premature, personally. I don’t want to go there because we want to get the two points, and then get ready to play Dallas on Monday,” said Cassidy of the Canadiens, who have lost five of their last seven games and scored just one goal or less in six of those seven aforementioned contests. “We want to take care of our own business and keep climbing up the standings. We know how valuable the points are. It’s a long grind. We’re not even halfway through. We want to keep playing well, collect our points and be a Stanley Cup contender."

“We’re not worried about who gets left behind or whatnot. We’re just taking care of our own business.”

So here’s the simple truth: The B’s can deal Montreal a death blow if they sweep all three games. A cluster of losses to a division opponent they’re chasing could thoroughly destroy the Habs’ playoff hopes, and Boston is certainly aware of that heading into the first tilt Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

“It’s kind weird that we’ve gone half the year without playing each other and now we’re going to see them three times [in a week],” said Patrice Bergeron. “But I’m looking forward to it…it’s going to be big. They are huge points and [Montreal] is trying to climb up. For us we’re trying to stay up [in the standings] and push teams down, so we know what’s at stake."

“It’s three games in a week, so it’s a really important week for them and for us. We talk about setting short term goals, and we want to make sure we keep playing the same way, keep pushing teams down and keep gaining ground on the teams that are in front of us."  

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings at Friday afternoon’s skate at the Bell Centre that signified the end of the bye week:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari/Vatrano

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Miller

Postma-McQuaid

 

Rask

Khudobin

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McQuaid expected to return for first time since October tonight

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McQuaid expected to return for first time since October tonight

BRIGHTON, Mass – After waiting weeks for it to happen, it looks as if Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid is going to draw back in for the Bruins.

The veteran defenseman has been healthy since right around Christmastime after recovering from a broken leg suffered blocking a shot back in October, but McQuaid hadn’t been able to bust back into a lineup that’s been winning games. Now, B’s defenseman Kevan Miller has missed back-to-back practices while feeling “under the weather” and coach Bruce Cassidy termed him “doubtful” for tonight’s home game against the Montreal Canadiens.

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“Kevin Miller is still feeling under the weather, so he’s very doubtful for tonight. I don’t want to completely rule him out, but it doesn’t look good,” said Cassidy. “Adam would be in [if Miller doesn’t play] and it’s looking that way, but let’s give it a few hours. There’s going to be rust. It’s inevitable. We understand that, so we just need to allow him to be himself and play. We’ll expect he’ll want to get rid of the puck quickly based on the limited reps he’s had, but the part of the game he gets back quickly is hopefully his strength.”

So, McQuaid is expected to play for the first time since Oct. 19 in a pairing with rookie Matt Grzelcyk and is excited to lace them up again after a long wait biding his time as a veteran coming back from injury.

“It’s not a regular game because I’ve missed so much time, but it’s probably [a feeling of] excitement more than anything,” said McQuaid, who has an assist and a minus-3 in six games this season. “It probably goes without saying [that you want to play], but it’s been good to watch how the guys have come together. You really feel that off the ice and during practice days and stuff, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to feel that in a game. It will be nice to back on the bench and hopefully add to this run that the guys have been on.”

It won’t be easy for McQuaid dropping right into an emotional Bruins-Canadiens game that’s also Claude Julien’s first game back at TD Garden since getting fired last season. Clearly, he’ll be trying to keep it simple when McQuaid might naturally start trying to do whatever it takes to stay in the regular lineup, but a veteran defenseman knows it’s really all about doing what it takes for the win.

“I’m just going to go out and play, play simple and not overthink things. You let everything else take care of itself and you focus on playing,” said McQuaid, who has missed a span of 36 games headed into tonight.

With McQuaid expected to return, here are the projected line combinations and D-pairings based on an optional morning skate on Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Spooner

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari


Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

 
Rask

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE