The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week and All-Star break, and with some new faces in the picture, too.
The most interesting one will be in the middle of the Black and Gold's forever-changing third line, though, as 2016 first-round draft pick Trent Frederic will make his NHL debut tonight against the Winnipeg Jets between Danton Heinen and David Backes.
"What I've heard about Frederic is this past weekend he had a real good weekend," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Playing assertive hockey, some of the best hockey he's played all year. There was a plan all along at the start of the year to take a look at him at some point. We didn't know when that point would be."
With Frederic healthy and playing well (he arrives to the NHL with four goals and 10 points in his last 12 AHL games), and with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (and Ryan Donato) assigned to Providence on Monday, that time is now.
And next to a childhood idol of his in Backes.
Given Frederic's status as a St. Louis native, there's no shortage of straight-up crazy connections between he and Backes -- from meet-and-greets to hanging at the Tkachuk House to Backes nearly buying Frederic's family home -- and there's obviously something special about the duo's first game together tonight at TD Garden.
"Growing up in St. Louis, he was the best player from your hometown team, so that's something that I tried to play like," Frederic offered ahead of tonight's debut. "And I liked him, so that's kind of how I got the comparison to him. Hopefully I can live up to that or something close to that."
"We see the game the same way: outwork your opponent, be stronger, win more battles and have the opportunities and quantity, and the law of averages will pay off in the long run," said Backes.
With Tuukka Rask still on the mend from a concussion, Jaroslav Halak gets the call in the Boston crease. Halak, who will be backed up by Zane McIntyre tonight, has just one win and an .869 save percentage in his last five outings, but comes into action with seven wins in 11 career games against the Jets.
Winnipeg counters with Connor Hellebuyck. The former UMass-Lowell standout has 21 wins and a .910 save percentage in 37 games this season, and is 1-2-1 with an .890 save percentage in four career games against the Bruins.
The Jets have victories in seven of their last 10 games overall.
Here are the complete lines and pairings for the Bruins...
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Peter Cehlarik - David Krejci - Jake DeBrusk
Danton Heinen - Trent Frederic - David Backes
Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller