By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Not even Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy can dance around the absurdity of the Bruins’ injuries on the backend.
“Clearly you lose guys through the course of the year, five or six, but not at the same time,” Cassidy, who added that he’s never seen a team lose so many defensemen at or around the same time, remarked on Friday.
The Bruins have played the last 11 games without Charlie McAvoy (concussion-like symptoms) and Kevan Miller (hand).
Urho Vaakanainen was concussed in his season NHL game (back on Oct. 23), and has not played since.
Brandon Carlo suffered an upper-body last Saturday and is not with the Bruins on this road trip.
Oh, and the Bruins have lost Zdeno Chara (lower-body) and John Moore (lower-body) in the last two days alone.
That’s left Boston without five of their six defensemen from Opening Night, and absolutely scrambling for coverage, with Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril the newest recalls from the P-Bruins. For those keeping track at home, that makes Zboril the No. 11 defenseman on the organizational depth chart, and Clifton the No. 12.
It’s the NHL debut for each recall, and comes with sink-or-swim vibes from the Black and Gold’s bench boss.
“It’s the National Hockey League — you can either play in it or you can’t,” Cassidy noted. “We’ll find out with some of these guys. Sometimes this is the best way to find out, that’s the positive in it.
“The negative is we’ve got a lot of good players out of the lineup back there.”
Tuukka Rask will get the call in net for the Bruins. It will be Rask’s first in-game appearance since a four-day leave of absence from the team to attend to “personal” issues. The 31-year-old has a 4-4-0 record and .901 save percentage on the year, but was solid in his last start, with stops on 24-of-25 shots thrown his way in a Nov. 5 win over the Stars.
The Stars counter with Ben Bishop. The towering Bishop is 6-5-1 with a .915 save percentage on the year, and comes into action with four wins and a .910 save percentage in 13 career games against the Bruins.
This is the season series finale between the Bruins and Stars. Boston won the first meeting, a 2-1 overtime final at TD Garden last week, behind Brad Marchand’s franchise-record 13th career overtime goal.
The Bruins have won five straight games in Dallas, with their last loss coming all the way back on Dec. 31, 2011.
Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Joakim Nordstrom – David Krejci – Jake DeBrusk
Danton Heinen – Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson – Anders Bjork
Noel Acciari – Sean Kuraly – David Backes
Jeremy Lauzon – Matt Grzelcyk
Torey Krug – Connor Clifton
Jakub Zboril – 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. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.