BRIGHTON, Mass – It looks like Austin Czarnik will get at least one more game in the Bruins lineup tonight with Noel Acciari expected to return on the road Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.
So, Acciari (lower body) will miss his seventh consecutive game and Czarnik gets his fourth game in a row with the fourth line skating with Sean Kuraly and Tim Schaller. Kevan Miller (upper body) skated on his own prior practice Saturday and may be in line to return next week.
The undersized, shifty Czarnik certainly gives a different dimension to the fourth line than the hard-hitting Acciari but has been productive with three assists in his three games since being recalled from Providence.
In short, Czarnik, 25, an All-Star in the AHL this season, has done the job for the Black and Gold when injuries created an opening for him on the wing.
“[Czarnik] has been good. He’s complemented that line in a different way than Noel [Acciari] would or Frank [Vatrano]. We want him to play with a high-motor. That’s the catch-phrase we’ve used with him, especially playing on the wing where there are no restrictions to playing on pucks,” said Bruce Cassidy. Czarnik is also a plus-2 with one shot on net in the three games after putting up 13 goals and 42 points in 38 games for the P-Bruins. “I think that’s freed him up to be a little bit more of a puck-pursuit guy and I think that’s helped him. He won a puck battle on the wall the other night that led to a goal and we’ve asked him to improve there. So that’s good.
"He wants to be a part of it. He has been around a while and he’s certainly had success at the American League level. Now he wants to do it here. He’s done what we’ve asked: He’s been on the power play and played a little bit on the penalty kill. I like that he has versatility, so with time and score situations he’s been an asset.”
Unfortunately, there may not be a spot for him when Acciari makes his expected return to the fourth line on Sunday, but that’s more a statement of Boston’s current depth up front than any knock on what Czarnik has done. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Sabres based on Saturday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while some inspiring kids march their lives in every city across the country.
*Here’s the podcast version of this week’s 98.5 the Sports Hub hockey show where FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Johnston and yours truly talked about the ref’s treatment of Marchand, the comeback win over Dallas, Ryan Donato and what the Bruins lineup might look like in the playoffs.
*Ottawa Senators coach and aspiring Bond villain Guy Boucher knows that his job performance is going to be evaluated at season’s end just like that of his underperforming players.
*The Bruins playoff marketing ad chastising Mike Felger for his early season hot take is drawing plenty of attention and praise, including from Forbes Magazine.
*Here’s a cool behind-the-scenes story about how "Hockey Night in Canada" comes together on a weekly basis to be the very heartbeat of NHL coverage in Canada.
*Sean Monahan’s season is over with the Calgary Flames as they plummet out of playoff contention in the Western Conference.
*For something completely different: The March For Our Lives is not only inspiring to somebody like me, but a sign that things are changing in our country. There is a sea change coming and it’s long past time for it to happen.
GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy.
BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand.
TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.
BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.