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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Preview: Game No. 29– Islanders @ Bruins

For the first time in a week, the Boston Bruins are set to play another game. This time, the B’s will be kicking off the second-half of their 2020-21 56-game regular season schedule against the New York Islanders at TD Garden on Thursday night.

Boston defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1, at KeyBank Center last Thursday (March 18th) without forward, Sean Kuraly, in the lineup as he had been placed in the league’s COVID protocol earlier that afternoon– jeopardizing that night’s action, when combined with the fact that the Sabres also had a positive test among their coaching staff– but nevertheless, the game went on as scheduled.

Until after the game.

Four more Bruins skaters were placed in COVID protocol, including Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith, which forced the postponement of last Saturday’s scheduled matchup with the Sabres in Buffalo and Tuesday’s scheduled home game against the Islanders.

Boston’s facilities were shutdown until Wednesday, when the team held practice for the first time since March 18th’s game action at 7 o’clock in the evening at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton.

Everyone except for DeBrusk and Kuraly came off of the National Hockey League’s COVID protocol list prior to practice on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, back in Buffalo last Thursday, Greg McKegg scored his first goal as a Bruin, DeBrusk added his third goal of the season, Smith notched his fifth and Pastrnak tallied his 14th goal of the year.

Krejci had three assists, surpassing 700 career points (all with Boston) in the process– becoming just the eighth player to do so in a Bruins uniform.

In 935 career NHL games, Krejci has 208-494–702 totals and trails Wayne Cashman (793 points) for the seventh-most points in a B’s jersey.

Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves on 24 shots against for a .958 save percentage in the win for Boston last Thursday, while Carter Hutton stopped 33 out of 37 shots faced for an .892 save percentage in Buffalo’s loss.

Now back to the present.

Entering Thursday night, the Bruins are 0-3-1 against the Islanders this season, with the most recent loss coming in a shootout, 2-1, on March 9th at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

New York is riding back-to-back wins against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 20th at home and March 22nd in Philadelphia as they enter Boston for the first time this season.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, provided a pregame update to reporters via Zoom and informed them that he expects Tuukka Rask to return to the lineup and get the start against the Isles on Thursday, while Jarred Tinordi and Trent Frederic will be game-time decisions.

Boston will be without Ondrej Kase, Kevan Miller, Jeremy Lauzon, Brandon Carlo, John Moore and Zach Senyshyn, though Carlo, Lauzon, Miller and Senyshyn are skating.

Moore underwent surgery on an undisclosed injury and is out longer-term, while Kase has no set timetable for when he’ll be back since sustaining an upper body injury in the second game of the season back on Jan. 16th in New Jersey.

Cassidy, meanwhile, is coaching in his 400th NHL game on Thursday night (177-74-38 overall in 289 games with Boston).

The Bruins (16-8-4, 36 points) are 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division as they embark on the second-half of their season, while New York leads the division with a 21-8-4 record (46 points).

The B’s are 7-3-1 on home ice this season and 5-3-2 in their last ten games, while the Isles enter TD Garden 8-7-2 on the road in 2020-21, as well as 8-2-0 in their last ten games.

Boston is 92-57-21-6 in 176 regular season meetings against the Islanders all time with 590 goals for and 501 goals against in that span.

New York is 18-20-2-4 in 44 games at TD Garden since the building was opened in 1995, outscoring the Bruins in that span, 134-113.

Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 12-22–34 totals in 28 games played, while Pastrnak leads the team in goals scored (14), but trails Marchand for the second-most points with 14-12–26 totals in 21 games played this season.

Bruins captain, Patrice Bergeron, rounds out the top-three scorers with 25 points in 28 games and is four points away from tying Rick Middleton for the fourth most points with Boston in franchise history.

Bergeron has 362-532–894 totals in 1,117 career games with the Bruins, while Middleton had 898 points in 881 games with Boston from 1976-88.

Mathew Barzal leads the Islanders in scoring with 9-16–25 totals in 33 games this season, while Anders Lee and Brock Nelson are tied for the team lead in goals with 12.

Lee’s recent injury has limited him to 27 games and ruled him out for the rest of the season, while Nelson has attained 12-6-18 totals in 33 games.

Isles defender, Nick Leddy, is second on the team in scoring with 1-20–21 totals in 33 games, while Jordan Eberle and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each have 20 points for the third-most points on New York’s roster.

Eberle’s recorded 20 points in 33 games, while Pageau has 20 points in 32 games, including 4-1–5 totals in four games against Boston this season.

Rask (8-4-2, 2.46 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in 14 games played) is expected to get his first start since missing the last six games for Boston due to an undisclosed injury.

He is one win away from reaching the 300-win plateau and would be the first Bruins goaltender in franchise history to reach that mark.

Semyon Varlamov (13-6-3, 2.17 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 22 games played) is likely to get the start in net for the Islanders on Thursday.

The Bruins kick off a seven-game homestand on Thursday, which is tied for the longest home stretch in team history (Jan. 2-16, 2006).

For the first time since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began last year, fans will be in attendance at TD Garden as the building is limited to 12% seating capacity.

Roughly 2,100 fans will be at a Bruins home game for the first time since March 7, 2020, instead of the usual sellout crowd of 17,850 since the building’s most recent renovations and development of The Hub on Causeway.

Expected lineups

Boston Bruins

63 Brad Marchand (A) 37 Patrice Bergeron (C) 88 David Pastrnak

21 Nick Ritchie 46 David Krejci (A) 12 Craig Smith

10 Anders Bjork 13 Charlie Coyle 83 Karson Kuhlman

11 Trent Frederic 18 Greg McKegg 14 Chris Wagner

48 Matt Grzlecyk 73 Charlie McAvoy

67 Jakub Zboril 75 Connor Clifton

84 Jarred Tinordi 44 Steven Kampfer

40 Tuukka Rask

41 Jaroslav Halak

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Zach Senyshyn (upper body), Jack Studnicka, Brandon Carlo (upper body), John Moore (undisclosed), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Sean Kuraly (COVID protocol), Jack Ahcan, Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand), Callum Booth, Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Dan Vladar, Kevan Miller (right knee)

New York Islanders

7 Jordan Eberle 47 Leo Komarov 13 Mathew Barzal

28 Michael Dal Colle 29 Brock Nelson (A) 12 Josh Bailey (A)

18 Anthony Beauvillier 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau 26 Oliver Wahlstrom

17 Matt Martin 53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck (A)

3 Adam Pelech 6 Ryan Pulock

2 Nick Leddy 4 Andy Greene

34 Thomas Hickey 24 Scott Mayfield

40 Semyon Varlamov

30 Ilya Sorokin

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Anders Lee (knee), TBA

Goaltending stats entering Thursday

Boston Bruins

40 Tuukka Rask 8-4-2 in 14 GP, 2.46 GAA, .906 SV%, 0 SO

41 Jaroslav Halak 7-4-2 in 13 GP, 2.06 GAA, .921 SV%, 2 SO

70 Callum Booth 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

80 Dan Vladar 1-0-0 in 1 GP, 1.00 GAA, .971 SV%, 0 SO

New York Islanders

30 Ilya Sorokin 8-2-1 in 11 GP, 1.97 GAA, .922 SV%, 2 SO

35 Cory Schneider 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

40 Semyon Varlamov 13-6-3 in 22 GP, 2.17 GAA, .923 SV%, 3 SO

By Nick Lanciani

I have a degree in communication and yet I cannot find the words for this bio. Anyway, I write stuff on Down the Frozen River, make/appear on podcasts, used to write stuff for Couch Guy Sports and apply to jobs for a living when I'm not painting something cool to distract myself from my unemployment.