BRUINS (25-16-7) at ISLANDERS (32-14-1)
TV: TVA SPORTS, SNO, SNP, NESN, MSG+
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A look at the NHL standings shows the New York Islanders are tied for first place in the Eastern Conference and have won six of their past seven games. But the players are far from satisfied.
"I think we understand there's a lot to be accomplished this year," forward John Tavares said after the morning skate. "We really haven't done a whole lot yet, but we've put ourselves in good shape."
The Islanders are 17-4-0 at Nassau Coliseum but play a Boston Bruins team which has points in 11 of its past 12 games (7-1-4).
"When you want to measure yourself and really see where you stand, this is the team that you want to play," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "They are big, they are strong, they are well coached. They got good leadership. For us, this is a good test for our team."
Boston hasn't played since before the All-Star break. Its most recent game was a 3-2 shootout loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 21.
"I think it's tough because we were rolling a little bit and we feel like we got back to the basics and what makes our team successful, and then you have a break during that time and hopefully you just have to make sure that doesn't kill the momentum," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said.
This will be the second game for defenseman Johnny Boychuk against his former team. He played with the Bruins from 2008-14 before an offseason trade to the Islanders. The first game, a 3-2 win in Boston on Oct. 23, was an emotional experience for him.
"The first game back, it was kind of a blur because it was more trying to play against your old team and being in the building, it was emotional, but playing against them, it's hard but I don't really remember the game," Boychuck said.
Tavares, the Islanders captain, said Boychuk is a leader in the locker room.
"The way he handles himself every day, things are going well, things aren't going well, just the way he comes and does his job, and certainly enjoys being around the rink," Tavares said. "His personality is so good fitting in with our group, being a younger team and just having a lot of fun. He's been a big part of our team."
Capuano echoed those words.
"I know he doesn't wear a letter on our hockey club, but every day whether it is on the ice or off the ice, he leads by example," Capuano said.
Krug learned a lot from his time with Boychuk.
"He always had a smile on his face," Krug said. "As a young guy, you really appreciate that. He's been through a lot in his career, played a lot in the minors, made it to the NHL and he loves what he does. I think that's really important for me being a young guy, to love what you do."
Boychuk has enjoyed his time with the Islanders and isn't surprised they are where they are in the standings.
"I knew that coming here I'd have more responsibility but after the first two practices I knew what kind of team we had and how good we actually were," Boychuk said. "After the first couple of games, then you really knew how good we were, and we have established that."
Here are the projected lineups:
Scratched: Matt Donovan
Status update: Visnovsky will miss his ninth straight game. "I'm sure he is close and he is itching to get back in there. … Right now it is day-by-day," Capuano said.
Who's hot: Tavares has goals in three straight games. … Strome has a four-game point streak. … Rask has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his past four games (2-1-1).
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