After dropping three straight games, the 11-3-3 Bruins will try to end their recent skid tonight at TD Garden when they face off against a division rival. The Florida Panthers come to Boston with a respectable 8-4-5 record and will certainly provide a tough battle in an attempt to assert some Atlantic Division dominance.
Fortunately, the Bruins started to look more like the team that was so successful in the first month of the season during the third period of Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, the lackluster effort of the first two periods seemed to carry over from a poor performance in Friday's loss to the league's basement dweller, the Detroit Red Wings.
At least some of the Bruins' issues stem from injuries up front, which have resulted in several call ups and forced head coach Bruce Cassidy to get creative with line combinations. In addition, although secondary scoring has improved over the past couple of weeks, the first line's unbelievable scoring tear has slowed a bit. As a result, the need for more production from players not named David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron is obvious once again.
Luckily for the Bruins, it is still just mid-November. There is plenty of hockey left to play in the 2019-2020 season, and the team is still near the top of the National Hockey League standings despite the recent woes.
Old Stomping Grounds
Former Bruin, Providence College alum and Rhode Island native Noel Acciari could make his on-ice return to TD Garden for the Panthers tonight. Acciari has been dealing with a muscle injury that has kept him out for Florida's past couple of games. Early indications this morning were that he would indeed return to the lineup tonight.
The past two seasons, Acciari was an integral part of one of the NHL's best fourth lines. Acciari's gritty demeanor and impeccable hitting ability fit in well with the line's hard, straightforward play and made him a fan favorite in Boston. He signed with Florida as a free agent this summer.
Bruised and Battered
The Bruins cannot seem to escape the injury bug. On Sunday, forwards Par Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom returned to the lineup, but Jake DeBrusk was a new addition to the injury report. Cassidy said Saturday that DeBrusk is not likely to be ready until to return until at least this weekend.
Aside from Kevan Miller and John Moore, who both began the season still recovering from injuries suffered last year, Boston's defense had been able to avoid the plague of injuries that has hit the forwards group. However, that changed Sunday night, as Torey Krug reportedly suffered an upper body injury and was unavailable for the three-on-three overtime period against the Flyers.
Following Monday's practice, Cassidy said Krug will not play against the Panthers tonight, and more should be known about the extent of the injury in the coming days. The team called up Urho Vaakanainen from Providence to play in Krug's stead.
If Krug's injury is serious, that would be a major blow to the team, both on defense and on the power play. Matt Grzelcyk was slotted in next to Krug's normal defensive partner, Brandon Carlo, for Monday's practice. Grzelcyk is also taking Krug's place on the power play while the latter is out.
No Goal for You
The Bruins had their sixth goal of the relatively young season called off Sunday. This discouraging trend prompted Cassidy to again give the officials a piece of his mind during the game and to comment on the issue in post-game remarks.
Projected Bruins Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Heinen – Krejci – Coyle
Bjork – Lindholm – Senyshyn
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Vaakanainen – Clifton
Projected Florida Panthers Lineup
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov
Mike Hoffman - Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly
Frank Vatrano - Brian Boyle - Denis Malgin
Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour
Damon Severson – P.K. Subban
Josh Brown - Aaron Ekblad
Mike Matheson - Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle - Mark Pysyk
WHEN TO WATCH: Tonight with Puck Drop at 7 p.m.
WHERE TO WATCH: SN, NESN
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