It's an unusual matchup for the Bruins and Blue Jackets on Monday night. Mainly because both teams are going to be without their top blue liners.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed on Monday that captain Zdeno Chara (upper body) will be out against the Blue Jackets and again on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues. So in addition to Patrice Bergeron (foot fracture), the B's need to play at least the next two games without the defensive stalwart. And, not to mention, they're still missing Charlie McAvoy (knee) and Jake DeBrusk (upper body) as well. Chara will be particularly missed on Monday against the Blue Jackets' big forwards, especially against their centers.
Meanwhile, the Jackets will be without top defenseman Seth Jones according to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. The 23-year-old is enjoying his best season yet, with 14 goals and 49 points in 71 games. He's beginning to emerge as a premier defenseman in the NHL like he should be - but won't be able to put his talents on display Monday.
Instead, the focus on exciting young talent will mostly come from the Bruins' side. Ryan Donato will make his NHL debut as he plays left wing on the Bruins' third line with Noel Acciari and Brian Gionta. The 21-year-old just signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Bruins and could help immediately on offense with his quick release and creativity.
On Bergeron, Cassidy confirmed that he's officially "day-to-day" with his foot injury. No. 37 returned to the ice on Monday morning to skate before the team. He participated some light turning drills and it looked to go smoothly:
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 19, 2018
Here's what else you should know about the Bruins and Blue Jackets ahead of Monday's game:
Across The Bench...
-- Defensively, the B's will have their hands full with the Jackets' combination of size and skill. Besides 5-foot-11 Artemi Panarin and 5-foot-8 Cam Atkinson, and a few others, Columbus mostly goes big with its forwards. And the smaller ones can score. Some have both.
-- One player who boasts both size and skill is rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, who is stepping right in and performing admirably on the Blue Jackets' top line with Panarin and Atkinson. The 19-year-old, whom the Jackets drafted third overall in 2016, stands at 6-foot-3 and projects to have a strong all-around game. Chara would've made an ideal matchup against him; Dubois presents a nice test for whoever gets him on the Bruins blue line.
This clip shows how dangerous the Dubois-Panarin combination can be:
-- Joonas Korpisalo will start between the pipes for the Blue Jackets on Monday. Sergei Bobrovsky's backup has been less than good this season. He's 7-7 in 15 appearances on the season with a 3.19 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].