After scraping the bottom of the organization's barrel for defensive help in pure survival mode over the last two games, the Boston Bruins will finally get one of their NHL defensemen back, as Kevan Miller (hand) is expected to make his return to the lineup for Wednesday's head-to-head with the Detroit Red Wings.
Given a '99 percent' chance to return to the lineup per Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, Miller seems as ready as can be.
"Very excited," Miller said of his return to the Boston lineup. "It's been a long four-and-a-half weeks watching the guys play."
Injured in the club's Oct. 17 loss to the Flames, Miller returns to the B's lineup with one assist, 14 hits, 12 blocked shots, and averaging 18:07 of time on ice per night in seven games this season.
"I'm just excited to get back in and contribute," said Miller.
With Miller expected back, the Bruins are expected to send 2015 first-round Jakub Zboril back to the press box as a healthy scratch. The 21-year-old defender appeared in two games for the Bruins, with one shot on goal and three hits, and totaled just 21:52 of time on ice. Confidence and nerves seemed to be obvious issues for the Czech blue liner.
In net, the Bruins will turn to Tuukka Rask.
The 31-year-old Rask stopped 36-of-37 in a 1-0 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars last Friday, but looked much closer to the goaltender the Bruins will able to ride with a white-hot finish in the 2017-18 regular season. Rask comes into action with 13 wins and a .906 save percentage in 21 career head-to-heads with the Red Wings.
Detroit, winners in eight of their last 10 games overall, counter with Jimmy Howard. The veteran netminder made 34 saves in a losing effort last Thursday, but comes into play with a .922 save percentage on the year. Howard has five wins and a .921 save percentage in 13 career decisions against the Bruins.
This is a series that's been dominated by the Bruins of late, with the B's capturing wins in 15 of the last 17 meetings.
Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Bruins...
Brad Marchand - Joakim Nordstrom - Jake DeBrusk
Anders Bjork - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen - Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson - Noel Acciari
Chris Wagner - Sean Kuraly - David Backes
Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller
Torey Krug - Connor Clifton
Jeremy Lauzon - Steven Kampfer