By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Like any coach, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wants to see his goaltenders challenging each other for playing time. But after Thursday’s win over the Flyers, Cassidy threw down the gauntlet and by all means said that backup Jaroslav Halak is not going to be held back from a playing time perspective if he continues to play like he has this season.
That’s put all eyes on Bruins starter Tuukka Rask, who enters tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens with a 3-2-0 record and .901 save percentage on the year, to essentially match what the 33-year-old Halak has done to date.
And this matchup could not come at a better time for the 31-year-old Rask.
Now only is Rask coming off what was his best performance of the season in a 38-of-39 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, but he enters action tonight with wins in his last six head-to-heads with the Canadiens. Rask has also surrendered one goal or fewer in all but one of those six games, too, and has posted a .959 save percentage against the Habs since then.
“It’s a big rivalry game and we’re looking forward to it and we’re just trying to build our brand and get better.”— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 27, 2018
????@JDebrusk looks to help the #NHLBruins extend the winning streak to three games: pic.twitter.com/isyuir0quo
Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon, who skated 11:25 and finished with two hits in his NHL debut on Thursday against the Flyers, remains up with the big club and will skate against his home-province Canadiens tonight.
“He did really well,” Cassidy said of Lauzon’s performance. “We also felt it was a good matchup. There’s other names that came up in Providence that we thought we could use, but for what we were missing we thought it was a good matchup [Thursday].”
“I thought he played well, I thought he was good with the puck,” Lauzon’s pairing partner, Steven Kampfer, said of the rookie’s debut. “We played in training camp together a couple times, so we were kind of familiar with each other, but I thought he was good, I thought he moved his feet, I thought he held his own. It was a good first game and a building step.”
David Backes (upper-body), Charlie McAvoy (upper-body), and Kevan Miller (hand) all skated before the optional morning skate on Saturday, but are not ready to play just yet. Torey Krug (ankle) remains on the shelf, but is inching closer to a return.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, come to Boston with wins in four of their last six games.
This is the first of four 2018-19 meetings between the century-old rivals. Boston swept last year’s season series, and outscored Claude Julien’s then-beleaguered Canadiens squad 14-6 over that four-game series.
Here are the complete projected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen – David Krejci – Jake DeBrusk
Anders Bjork – Joakim Nordstrom – Chris Wagner
Ryan Donato – Sean Kuraly – Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – John Moore
Jeremy Lauzon – Steven Kampfer
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. 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 Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.