BOSTON - Matt Beleskey has not played in game action since Dec. 3, when the winger injured his knee on a hit in Buffalo.
It has been difficult for Beleskey to watch from the outside, particularly in recent days as the team has struggled to put together victories. But, he won't have to watch anymore.
Beleskey, who has missed the last 23 games, will make his return to the lineup tonight against the Blackhawks.
"Definitely, been saving it up for a while," said Beleskey, who skated alongside Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the Bruins fourth line during morning skate. "It's tough to watch, it's tough to watch the guys struggling and not be able to help. It will be great to get back in there and hopefully make a difference.
"You just got to keep it simple, do what I do well. Be hard on pucks, get on the body and just try to get in a groove. You can't expect too much in your fist game back. You just want to keep it simple and be able to contribute."
Beleskey notched two goals and three assists in 24 games before the injury and is hoping to use his return as somewhat of a fresh start.
"Definitely. It's been seven weeks now, that's a long time," he said. "[I] can start fresh and put together a good second half of the season."
Righting the Ship
The last two games, to put it lightly, have not been pleasant for the Bruins. A 4-0 loss to the Islanders at home on Monday was followed by a 6-5 shootout loss to Detroit on Wednesday, which saw the Bruins squander leads of 3-0 and 4-1.
David Backes is hoping he and the rest of his teammates have earned a lesson.
"We can't sit in the past or we're bound to duplicate it," said Backes. "We have to learn lessons. The game against the Islanders we didn't have much jump or much going for us at all, the game against Detroit we got off to the right start…Both can be great lessons if we learn from it.
"Neither were very enjoyable. It was probably the quietest are guys were the whole year on that plane ride home from Detroit. To me, that's a great sign that it hit us in the heart, hit us where it mattered, and we were thinking about how we can be better and turn the tide to be victorious next time out."
Ready for the Blackhawks
Brandon Carlo has had this game circled on the calendar for quite some time. Facing teams for the first time is, of course, a given for the rookie defenseman, but playing the Blackhawks (28-14-5, 61 points) brings with it an extra sense of excitement.
"Obviously they've had a pretty good team the past few years," said Carlo. "They've got some high-end players that I look forward to challenging myself against. I think it will be a lot of fun tonight and a good challenge for myself."
Carlo said he won't be changing his approach against the Blackhawks, but will lean on his teammates for advice on how best to shut down Chicago's high-octane attack.
"There are guys who I haven't faced, so I'll ask a few more questions about certain guys, their tendencies and stuff like that," said Carlo. "Overall, I kind of just focus on my game and go out there and do my job, which is shutting down the top lines and try to be consistent with that."
Vatrano Hoping to Keep it Up
Frank Vatrano was moved up to the right wing alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron for Wednesday night's game in Detroit. He did not disappoint.
Vatrano potted two goals and could have had more, as he hit a post and created a number of other strong opportunities.
"Two [of the] best guys in the league," Vatrano said of Marchand and Bergeron. "I played with them last year. I wouldn't say I was familiar with it, but [I'm] playing my off side with them and just trying to get open.
"Obviously two guys that like to play fast and play hard. For me, it's to make sure that my legs are going, make sure I was competing hard and I think I did a good job of that. Have to keep it going."
Julien said getting the puck to Vatrano, who has a lethal shot, is critical.
"Frank Vatrano is known as a goal scorer and he'll always be a great goal scorer," said Julien. "He's got a great release, great shot. It's about giving him opportunities to get in those situations.
"Some of those are having people to give him those pucks and being able to find those areas where he can get his shot away. Last game was a good example of that."
Here is the Bruins projected lineup for this evening, based on morning skate:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner - Riley Nash - David Backes
Matt Beleskey - Dominic Moore - Austin Czarnik
Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Joe Morrow - John-Michael Liles
Jimmy Hayes and Anton Blidh will be the scratches.