DALLAS — The Bruins have reached the 11th and final day of their season-long road trip, with the last stop in Dallas on Saturday night against the Stars.
Game time is set for 8:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. local time — NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
A win over Dallas would put them above .500 on the road trip, as they have posted a 3-2-0 record though the first five games. The victories came against Winnipeg (6-2), Minnesota (4-2) and Columbus (2-1), with the losses coming to Detroit (6-5) and Nashville (2-0).
“Bottom line is, we came on the road trip to have a winning road trip,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “A win tonight would be huge. We’d much prefer to be 4-2, than 3-3, so nothing changes from our mindset as far as coming out tonight and winning. When you lose a game like you did last game, you want to bounce back and have a good effort, so that’s what we’re looking for from our hockey club.”
After a day off the ice on Friday, the Bruins held a full pregame skate on Saturday morning at the American Airlines Center. Ryan Spooner was not feeling well and did not skate.
“We’ll wait and see how he feels,” Julien said of Spooner. “ I’d put him as questionable right now.”
With Spooner’s absence, Joonas Kemppainen centered Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes on the third line. Max Talbot centered Zac Rinaldo and Landon Ferraro on the fourth line. On the back end, Zach Trotman looks to be the healthy scratch with Joe Morrow slotting back into the lineup.
The Bruins and the Stars are both coming off of losses, with the Stars most recently dropping a 6-3 loss in Arizona on Thursday.
Like in Nashville, the Bruins should expect the home team to be firing from the drop of the puck. They’ll need to weather the storm better than they did in their 2-0 loss to the Predators, and respond with their own energetic start.
“I think for the most part we’ve always been ready to play,” said Julien. “That was one of the rare games when a team really took it to us, so hopefully we’re better tonight from the get-go and ready to play a 60-minute game here tonight against a pretty good hockey club.”
“I think we have to come out ready, making them go 200 feet, getting pucks deep,” said Dennis Seidenberg. “Playing a good team game, playing as a unit of five and keeping them to the outside — that’s the most important thing."
Despite dropping their past two games, Dallas is a team that can inflict damage offensively, especially with two of the NHL’s top scorers in Jamie Benn (30 goals, 66 points) and Tyler Seguin (31 goals, 65 points) leading the charge.
“Playing simple is always the best thing,” said Seidenberg. “Especially against those guys, you don’t want to turn the puck over, because once you turn it over, they come at you with a lot of speed and as D’s, you don’t have good gaps once that happens, so it’s about playing them smart and playing them tight."
The last time these two teams faced off in Boston on Nov. 3, Dallas earned a 5-3 win, thanks to Seguin’s hat trick.
“We were very sloppy defensively, so we’re hopefully going to be a better team in regards to that part of our game,” said Julien. “We certainly had our chances to score on them in Boston, but at the end of the night, they scored a lot more than we did.”
A win in Dallas would not only cap off a fairly successful road trip; it would also keep the Bruins above Detroit in the standings. They sit one point ahead entering Saturday night.
While the Bruins face the Stars, the Red Wings will face off in Ottawa against the Senators.
“It’s the playoff push. Every year, you’re either a team trying to hold on to your spot, or trying to make up some room, so that’s what it’s about,” said Matt Beleskey. “We need to bear down. There’s not a very big margin for error, so we need to be ready.”
Pregame Line Rushes 2/20
Brad Marchand—Patrice Bergeron—Brett Connolly
Loui Eriksson—David Krejci—David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey—Joonas Kemppainen—Jimmy HAyes
Zac Rinaldo— Max Talbot—Landon Ferraro
Defense: Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Joe Morrow, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller
Projected Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
Projected Scratches: Tyler Randell, Zach Trotman (both stayed on for extra time following pregame skate)