Though a two-game losing streak shouldn’t be much a cause for concern, the Boston Bruins are scrambling.
A 4-2 loss to the cellar-dwelling Detroit Red Wings on Friday saw the Bruins skate a forward short after Brett Ritchie was a late scratch. Ritchie is one on a growing list of forwards on the mend as Boston returns home to host the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night.
In addition to Ritchie (upper body), David Backes and Jake DeBrusk missed the game against Detroit with lower-body injuries. On injured reserve for the Bruins are Karson Kuhlman (leg), Joakim Nordstrom (elbow) and Par Lindholm (upper body), though Nordstrom or Lindholm could return if Ritchie can’t go Sunday.
“They are in the mix,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll get a better idea … when we see them. If they can’t go, yes, we will call up another forward.”
With Ritchie out, defenseman Steven Kampfer dressed as a forward against the Red Wings but didn’t take the ice. Although Detroit was in a 1-11-1 rut entering the contest, it led from the first period on as Boston turned in one of its worst efforts of the season.
“It’s going to happen,” said Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who tried to spark his team with a second-period fight. “I’m not worried, but obviously we’re not happy with it. We’ll regroup and get ready for the next one.”
The Bruins will need all they can get against one of their most bitter rivals in the Flyers. Philadelphia enters on a three-game winning streak.
However, the Flyers will be on short rest after beating the Maple Leafs 3-2 in a shootout in Toronto on Saturday night. Sean Couturier scored the decider in the third round of the shootout, and goalie Brian Elliott starred with 38 saves.
Four of Philadelphia’s last five games have now required extra time, with the team winning on three such occasions.
“I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Couturier, who scored the winner in each of the three victories. “A few opportunities, and we’re capitalizing on them right now. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
It was a key road victory for the Flyers, who are now 3-4-1 in away games. The Bruins are 7-0-1 at home.
“We’ll have to be ready to skate and limit that first line,” Couturier said of Boston. “They seem to be rolling. We have to be ready.”
Bruins forward David Pastrnak will be the primary target to shut down. He leads the league with 15 goals and 31 points, tallying at least a point in each of his last 14 games.
With Elliott carrying the load against Toronto on Saturday, the Flyers are likely to turn to Carter Hart in net. The 21-year-old has been their primary starter this season, winning his last three games after losing four straight starts.
The Bruins will turn to Jaroslav Halak with Tuukka Rask having given up eight goals between his last two starts. Halak has won four of his six starts this season.
Philadelphia beat Boston in two of three meetings last season, though the Bruins hold a 12-2-4 record in the series since 2014.
–Field Level Media