After getting off to an undefeated start through their first two games, the Colorado Avalanche were forced to sit through a four day break before getting back on the ice for their third of the season. With a lot of rest and their first block of games at home, the Avalanche have had a very favorable opening week of the 2019-20 NHL season.
The same can’t be said for the Boston Bruins who start their year on a western road trip. The travel hasn’t had a negative impact on the Bruins as the defending Eastern Conference Champions are off to a 3-0 start with wins in Dallas, Arizona and Vegas. Though many thought this would be the season the aging Bruins team begins to slow down, they certainly aren’t showing signs of it.
With these two teams sporting a combined 5-0 record, the league is set to have one fewer names on the undefeated list come Friday morning.
Tonight also marks the first time Nazem Kadri will see the Boston Bruins since a dirty hit on Jake DeBrusk got him suspended for the remainder of the playoff series last May.
Kadri has quite the history with the Bruins - and DeBrusk in particular - so we shouldn’t be surprised if some nastiness comes out at the Pepsi Center tonight.
During the week off, the Avalanche sent Conor Timmins down to the AHL in anticipation of Ian Cole returning to the lineup. The veteran defender missed all of the preseason and the first two regular season games after he underwent offseason surgery. Expected to be lost until December, Cole is well ahead of schedule and should provide a boost to a blue line that is very skilled but very young. He has been cleared by doctors but it sounds as though the coaches want to give him a little more time to get ready for his season debut.
Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi both missed a practice early in the week but are ready to go tonight. Unfortunately, the news isn’t as good for J.T. Compher who missed practice Wednesday morning due to a lower body injury. Coach Bednar mentioned that Compher won’t play Thursday night and that it’s unknown how long he will be out of action.
With Compher out of the lineup, Tyson Jost has been moved back to center and we will see Colin Wilson in game action for the first time this season.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi
Matt Nieto - Tyson Jost - Colin Wilson
Matt Calvert - PE Bellemare - Val Nichushkin
Sam Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Mark Barberio
The Bruins are putting a lot of miles behind them to start this season. Tonight will mark the end of a road trip and could result in some fatigued legs - especially when you factor in the fact that they’ve played in three one-goal games in three different states.
As usual, the Bruins are being led by their big line. Brad Marchand has three goals and an assist while David Pastrnak has three points in as many games. Along with Patrice Bergeron, Boston’s trio is the only group in the NHL that can keep up with the Avs top line so shutting them down will be important tonight.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie
Chris Wagner - Sean Kuraly - David Backes
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton
After four days off, Philipp Grubauer is going to be back in net for the Avalanche. He had a rocky first two periods during the season opener, but Grubauer was solid ever since and he’s proving that he is more than capable of carrying the pressure of being the team’s starter.
For the Bruins, we are likely to see Tuuka Rask between the pipes. The veteran netminder is 2-0 on the season with a .937 sv%.