The Bruins will begin their road trip without two regulars, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed Wednesday, with forward Nick Foligno and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk both unavailable for Wednesday’s head-to-head with the Avalanche.
In the case of Foligno, his absence will be a trip-long one, at the very least, as the 34-year-old did not accompany the Bruins on this three-game trip with stops in Colorado, Arizona, and Dallas. Foligno, who has had two separate extended absences due to injuries this season, suffered an upper-body injury in a fight with Anaheim’s Sam Carrick in Monday’s loss.
But the hope is that Grzelcyk, who finished Saturday’s game despite the ailment but missed Monday’s game, will be ready to go for the Black and Gold’s Friday night head-to-head with the Coyotes.
“Grz is going to need another couple of days anyway,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said ahead of Wednesday’s tilt in Denver. “[Urho Vaakanainen] will stay in, [but] hopefully Grz is ready for Arizona.”
Some definitively good news for the Bruins is that fourth-line disruptor Anton Blidh will make his return to the B’s lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury.
Blidh, who was knocked out of last Thursday’s win over the Capitals with a heavy hit from the Capitals’ Tom Wilson, has recorded a career-high two goals and eight points, along with 51 hits and 12 blocked shots, through 20 appearances this season.
The Bruins have also beefed up their taxi squad for this trip, with forwards Jesper Frödén, Steven Fogarty, defenseman Tyler Lewington, and goaltender Troy Grosenick all with the team for this upcoming road swing.
Wednesday night will come with a return to the cage for Bruins netminder Linus Ullmark, too, with the 28-year-old set to make his first start since last week’s 14-save win over the Caps. Ullmark enters play with a 14-5-0 record on the year, and has done the bulk of his damage over the last month and a half, with a 9-1-0 record and .917 save percentage since Dec. 9.
He’ll go against a Colorado team that’s been downright phenomenal on home ice, with an 18-2-1 record and plus-39 goal differential in 21 games at Ball Arena in 2021-22.
“We’ve had good games against them, [but] just come up a little bit short in crunch time, so we better be ready to go,” Cassidy said of the ‘high-octane’ Avalanche. “I don’t think it matters who you play, but [it does] specifically with them and their ability to finish. So that is the one positive of playing a team like that who has been hot. Let’s hope we’re able to respond. I think we have in the past. Some good road games recently; played well in Washington, played well in Tampa, and Detroit, so hopefully that that continues [with] our ability to to win both in Boston and on the road.”
This will be the B’s first road game in Denver since Oct. 10, 2019, enter play with a three-game road losing streak to the Avalanche, with the Bruins having last won on Colorado ice back on Nov. 13, 2016.