Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

  • The Bruins were already facing a Colorado Avalanche team missing several regulars in the lineup. Now, the Avs are without one of their superstars.

    As the team announced Tuesday night, the Avalanche will be without star center Nathan MacKinnon for approx. 2-4 weeks, as he recovers from an upper-body injury. MacKinnon was the team’s leading scorer with 34 points and their top playmaker with 26 assists in 23 games.

    So, add MacKinnon on top of captain Gabriel Landeskog (knee), who is out until at least January. The Avs have also recently been without forwards Valeri Nichushkin (ankle), Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body), Evan Rodrigues (lower-body) and Darren Helm (undisclosed). But wait, there’s more! Colorado is also missing defensemen Josh Manson (lower-body) and Bowen Byram (undisclosed).

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  • So the Avs, without absolute certainty, cannot catch a break right now in the health department. The Bruins, meanwhile, are dealing with minimal injury concerns and have caught the defending Stanley Cup champions at the right time of the season.

    Despite all those injuries, the Avs are still expected to have All-World defenseman Cale Makar and leading goal-scorer Mikko Rantanen in the lineup when the Bruins come to town for the second matchup in the season series on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET. And on the bright side for them, they might be getting Nichushkin back soon, as evidenced by his progress at practice. But not likely against the Bruins, who wiped the ice with the depleted Avs last Saturday night at TD Garden.

    The Avs called up four (!) minor-leaguers ahead of Wednesday’s game, whole reassigning Alex Galchenyuk to the AHL affiliate Colorado Eagles. It all adds up to a borderline minor-league team surrounding Makar and Rantanen, and a golden opportunity for the Bruins to pick up two more points.

    Dec 3, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) and center Charlie Coyle (13) celebrate a goal by center Trent Frederic (11) during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 3, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) and center Charlie Coyle (13) celebrate a goal by center Trent Frederic (11) during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

  • So … how ABOUT those Bruins?

    Not only are the B’s in a vastly better health situation than the Avalanche, they’re getting healthier ahead of the game in Colorado. Winger Craig Smith (upper-body) is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night in place of A.J. Greer, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters Tuesday.

    Smith has seen time on both the third and fourth lines for the Bruins this season, so it’ll be interesting to see where he and Trent Frederic fit in the lineup. Considering the way the third line has been rolling lately, with Taylor Hall, Charlie Coyle, and Frederic together, Montgomery may not want to break that up. So, our money’s on Smith playing on the fourth line with Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek in his return.

  • Bruins’ Projected Lines @ Avalanche

    Forward Lines

    Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk
    Pavel Zacha – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
    Taylor Hall – Charlie Coyle – Trent Frederic
    Nick Foligno – Tomas Nosek – Craig Smith

    Defensive Pairings

    Hampus Lindholm – Charlie McAvoy
    Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
    Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo

    Since Jeremy Swayman started on Monday night against the Vegas Golden Knights, we’re projecting Linus Ullmark to start for the Bruins in goal. Unless Montgomery decides he wants his goalies to get one start each against the Knights and Avs, which would put Swayman in goal in Colorado. (UPDATE: Fluto Shinzawa confirmed that Ullmark will start in Colorado.)

  • Pregame Notes

    — The Bruins hadn’t beaten the Avalanche in back-to-back home games since 1997-98, but finally pulled it off after last Saturday’s win at the Garden. Their last two-game win streak in Colorado was a little more recent, from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. They’re 0-3-1 on the Avs’ ice since then, though. So they have some demons to exorcise.

    — The Bruins have a slightly better ratio of shot attempts per 60 minutes when Charlie McAvoy is paired with Matt Grzelcyk on defense, as opposed to Hampus Lindholm (57.6 percent vs 54.6 percent, per Natural Stat Trick). They’re also down a tick in expected goals percentage (xGF%) with the Grzelcyk-McAvoy pairing, at 58.5 percent vs 60.1 percent. McAvoy has mainly been paired with Lindholm in the past three games.

    — If Ullmark starts in goal, he’ll have something of a chance at redemption. He allowed four goals on 41 shots in last year’s game at Colorado, a .902 save percentage.

  • Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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