BOSTON – More bodies will be missing for the Bruins tonight, so more changes will be coming to the lineup.
The most significant is probably Tuukka Rask returning between the pipes against the Philadelphia Flyers after sitting for the past two games. The respite has Rask on track for roughly 58 starts, which is exactly where they wanted their No. 1 goalie to be when they targeted a range of 55-60 games when the season began.
The short refresher this week should be exactly what the doctor ordered for both Rask’s “minor lower body injury”, and the .888 save percentage that Boston’s No. 1 goalie has posted in his past six appearances.
“He’s in tonight and he’s ready to go. With Tuukka we’ve always talked about trying to define the number of starts he gets to be within an actual number we’ve used of 58 [games] give or take a couple,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I think we’re on target to not be over that. A couple of injuries and [Anton Khudobin’s] strong play have contributed to that. But we will monitor it down the stretch, and makes sure he gets enough work too. A little less maybe than other years, but will be on [Rask] talking to us about how he feels as much as anything. It’s also obviously the urgency of the points down the stretch here as we get closer to April.”
The Bruins are already without Patrice Bergeron (broken foot) and Charlies McAvoy (knee), but there’s also David Backes beginning his three-game suspension for a late hit on the Detroit Red Wings' Frans Nielsen and Tommy Wingels getting inserted back into the lineup as the third-line center after playing mostly wing since his arrival at the trade deadline.
On the back end, the Bruins will be sitting Nick Holden after he put together a couple of strong games and Adam McQuaid is back in after the veteran defenseman had been a healthy scratch the past week. McQuaid exited morning skate early Thursday after taking a puck to the face, but the expectation was that he’d still be good to go against the Flyers with perhaps a little more snarl to his game than usual.
Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based on the morning skate: