After some earlier speculation, the Boston Bruins have confirmed that captain Zdeno Chara will miss two games so that he can attend the 2014 Winter Olympics’ opening ceremonies. He will carry the flag for Slovakia.
This will be a great experience for Chara, but it will also put the Bruins in a tough situation. They’ve already been playing without Dennis Seidenberg, so their defense will be a little thin during Chara’s absence.
He’ll be absent for a pair of tough contests too as Boston is set to face the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6 before playing the division rival Ottawa Senators on Feb. 8.
The Bruins currently hold the Atlantic Division title and they hold a four-point edge on the Tampa Bay Lightning despite having played in one less contest. They’ll try to give themselves a bit more breathing room before the break, even if they’ll have to accomplish that without Chara for part of that stretch.
After breaking an NHL record with his 59-save shutout on Wednesday, what will Edmonton goaltender Ben Scrivens do for an encore this afternoon against Boston?
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins doubtlessly hopes that it won’t involve having to stop another 59 shots. Wednesday’s shutout was the team’s third straight win, but Eakins would like to see his squad help out their netminder significantly more this time around.
Edmonton captain Andrew Ference should certainly help in that regard. He’s missed three straight contests due to a head injury, but he’s good to face his former teammates today.
Ference won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins and while he’s already played against them once this season, this will be his first game in Boston since signing with the Oilers over the summer.
“It will be nice to see him back in the Garden and I know he’s going to probably get a couple claps for him and it’s well-deserved,” his former defensive partner, Johnny Boychuk, told the Bruins’ website.
The game will start at 1:00 p.m. ET. Boston will be attempting to rebound from a 4-1 loss to Montreal in order to build some breathing room between them and the rest of the Atlantic Division before the Olympic break.
On home ice against their fiercest and most historic rival, the Boston Bruins were flat and the Montreal Canadiens played almost a completely perfect road game.
The Canadiens skated to a 4-1 victory, chasing goalie Tuukka Rask from the Boston net in the second period, with Chad Johnson coming into the game as his replacement. Not a great night for either puck stopper. The Canadiens, having recently snapped an ugly four-game losing streak were full value for the win, getting goals from four different players.
The topic of Rask getting pulled apparently caused some tension between the media and Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien following the game.
“Maybe sometimes you pull the goalie for different reasons. I don’t think I have to explain everything to you guys,” said Julien, according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette.
The bench boss added: “I’m trying to get out of this so you guys understand we weren’t very good tonight. See you guys next game.”
The often-heated rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens has, so far tonight, gone largely in favor of the Habs. And that has meant the hook for Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask.
Rask was pulled after allowing three goals on 18 shots, just past the midway point of the second period. Chad Johnson came into the game, but didn’t get a warm welcome from the Canadiens.
Daniel Briere scored Montreal’s fourth goal of the evening, on just the second shot Johnson faced since entering the game, according to the play-by-play report on NHL.com.
The Canadiens come into this game in a struggle of their own, having lost four of their previous five games. In those four defeats, they were outscored 19-5.
This latest outing only continues Rask’s ongoing struggles against the Canadiens.
The Boston Bruins activated Chris Kelly from the IR on Tuesday, opening the door for him to return to action for the first time since breaking his right ankle on Dec. 7. The team also demoted forward Ryan Spooner and defenseman Zach Trotman to the AHL.
Kelly, 33, suffered the injury from a slash by Pittsburgh Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis, who called the situation “unfortunate.”
Kelly comes back to a Bruins lineup that is buzzing with three straight victories and wins in four of five games. CSNNE.com is raving about the improved recent play from both Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand, so it seems like these are good times for the B’s.
Kelly has seven points and a -1 rating in 29 games during the 2013-14 season. The Bruins face the Florida Panthers tonight.