With a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, the Boston Bruins clinched the Northeast Division title, pulling six points ahead of the Ottawa Senators with three games left for each team in the regular season.
The Bruins have also clinched the second spot in the Eastern Conference. With nothing to gain, and nothing to lose, the Bruins are taking this opportunity to give some rest to some players and give playing time to others.
Goalie Tim Thomas will not dress for tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Marty Turco getting the start. Recently recalled Anton Khudobin will back him up. This could be the goaltending duo until the playoffs begin. At that time, Thomas will be back in the number one position. If injured goalie Tuukka Rask is back from his leg injury, he will be the backup to Thomas, otherwise it will be Khudobin, as Turco is not cleared to play in the playoffs.
Making his debut today is defenseman Torey Krug. The 20 year old Michigan native signed with the Bruins on March 25th and is looking forward to making his debut. Listed at just 5’9″ tall and weighing 180 pounds, look for Krug to lend a hand moving the puck, not so much banging opponents into the boards.
“Everybody keeps talking about his size, but what I see is a guy who moves extremely well, passes the puck extremely well and seems to have real good vision,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Krug. ”You look at him, he’s pretty solid and to me he has a lot of qualities we’ve been looking for so it’s an opportunity for him to play and to enjoy it.”
Based on that comment, I’m looking for a struggling Joe Corvo to be a scratch tonight. Corvo was brought into the Bruins at the beginning of the year to be that puck moving defenseman, but sloppy play has earned Corvo time as a healthy scratch. Look for Krug to wear #47.
Another Bruins defenseman, Adam McQuaid will also be getting some extra rest tonight. McQuaid suffered an eye injury during a March 29th game against the Washington Capitals, when he was hit into the boards by Cap forward Jason Chimera. Chimera earned a 5-minute major penalty for charging. Though McQuaid, sporting a new visor, did skate with the team at practice this morning and is most likely ready for game action, he will sit tonight anyway.
“We’re just playing it safe with him,” said Julien, ”He would be good to go if need be and he would be playing with a visor, but I think these extra two days will be better for him.”
Tonight’s game: Pittsburgh Penguins (48-25-6, 102 pts., 4th in the Eastern Conference) at the Boston Bruins (47-28-4, 98 pts., 2nd in the Eastern Conference)
What’s on the line?: Pittsburgh is locked in a battle with the Philadelphia Flyers (101 pts.) for the #4 seed, which will give home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.