By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
A battle of two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference will come with a slight lineup change for the Bruins, as Connor Clifton will sub in for an under-the-weather John Moore, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed Thursday.
“John started getting ill last night, so keep him away from the room and hopefully he’s ready and we’ll worry about the next game,” Cassidy said following the team’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “We were getting close anyway.”
Clifton, who has appeared in just two of the Black and Gold’s last eight games, returns to the lineup with two goals on 19 shots and 70 hits in 25 games this season, but has struggled to consistently play with the swagger that embodies “Cliffy Hockey.”
“Cliffy hopefully goes in and gives us some solid minutes and gets back to the way he can play,” said Cassidy.
And after a 23-of-27 overtime loss on Tuesday, Tuukka Rask will get a chance to redeem himself with another start. The 32-year-old Rask has a 13-4-4 record and .923 save percentage on the season, and enters play with 15 wins and a .935 save percentage in 21 career starts against the Islanders.
New York will counter Rask with Semyon Varlamov. The Russian goaltender was chased after he allowed three goals on nine shots in the Isles’ 8-3 loss to the Predators on Tuesday night, but comes into tonight’s contest with 11 wins and a .923 save percentage in 16 decisions this season. Varlamov has a 5-4-2 record and .924 save percentage in 12 games against the B’s.
The Bruins have won seven straight meetings with the Islanders dating back to Mar. 2017. In fact, the last time the Bruins lost to the Islanders, Claude Julien was still the head coach of the Bruins (he was fired less than a month later), while Jack Capuano was still coaching the Isles. (The Islanders fired Capuano a day after that win over Julien’s Bruins.)
Here are the complete lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Chris Wagner
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – David Backes
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton