By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins will welcome three faces back to the lineup on Saturday, as forward Brett Ritchie along with defensemen Torey Krug and Steven Kampfer, will get the call for Saturday’s head-to-head with the Wild.
On the ice for Saturday’s optional skate in a white jersey, Ritchie’s return comes after a flare-up with an infection held him out of Thursday’s contest, which has led to misses in five of Boston’s last six games. The 6-foot-4 banger has skated in 14 games this season, with two goals and one assist to go with 21 shots and 40 hits and a 10:53 average time on ice.
Krug, meanwhile, will make his return to the B’s lineup after skating without a non-contact sweater on Friday.
Boston’s top power-play quarterback, Krug rejoins the Boston lineup after missing the previous five games with an upper-body injury sustained in the third period of a Nov. 10 shootout loss to the Flyers as the team’s top scorer on the backend (two goals and 13 points on the year). The B’s vaunted power-play went 4-for-11 during Krug’s absence. Krug will replace Urho Vaakanainen in the B’s lineup, with the team sending the 20-year-old Finnish d-man back to Providence earlier today.
And in the case of Kampfer, it’s simply about getting the veteran depth defender back in the lineup with some real-time reps. Kampfer last dressed on Nov. 8, but finished that game without a single shift to his name as Boston’s 12th forward, as he was a last-second substitution for Ritchie. Prior to that, Kampfer played in the team’s Nov. 2 win over the Senators.
With Kampfer in action, Connor Clifton sit as Boston’s healthy scratch on the backend. Clifton finished Thursday’s win with a defense-low 12:42, and it feels worth noting that he’s just three games away from being waiver-eligible. Given the looming returns of Kevan Miller and John Moore, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Clifton, who has had his ups and downs this season, have a few more of these scratches as the Bruins navigate their way through their crowded defense.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy also confirmed that Par Lindholm, who was cut by a skate on Thursday night, will sit for this contest. Cassidy was originally hopeful that Lindholm would be able to play after receiving 18 stitches, but there’s no need to rush Lindholm into action, especially with Ritchie ready (and given Boston’s need for a natural right winger for this contest).
Jaroslav Halak will get the call in net for the Bruins.
Halak deserved better his last time out, taking a shootout loss against the Caps despite a 42-of-44 performance in net, and comes into action with a 4-1-3 record and .924 save percentage on the year. The 34-year-old has four wins and a .923 save percentage in 13 career starts against the Wild.
And despite beginning the day in the basement of the Central, Minnesota comes to Boston riding a four-game point streak (3-0-1), and defeated the Avalanche by a 3-2 final in their last game.
Here are the complete expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Brett Ritchie
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Steven Kampfer