BOSTON - The Bruins host the New York Islanders at TD Garden on Thursday night, looking to earn their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
The Bruins' lineup appeared status quo as they went through their morning pregame routine, with the exception of goaltender Niklas Svedberg expected between the pipes. Former Bruin backup Chad Johnson is expected in goal for the Islanders.
"I know firsthand what kind of a team he's with over there and how goalie-friendly the team really is, so it's nice for him to find a good situation there," said Johnson, who battled with Svedberg during last season's training camp.
The Bruins are hoping to build on their two most recent victories, a 5-3 win over San Jose and a 4-0 shutout of Buffalo, which showcased a much sounder defensive game than the start of the season.
The turnaround has been based on a few factors from Head Coach Claude Julien’s standpoint.
“Compete level, our speed, especially through the neutral zone, I think we’re playing at a higher pace. When I say compete, also the battle along the walls has been better,” said Julien. “Those are the things that really stick out to me is compete, the pace of our game and how hard we’re battling along the walls lately.”
“It's a long season and you're going to have some ups and downs and some learning curves, and it wasn't the ideal start but we've rebounded well,” said Chris Kelly. “And realized what we need to do in order for our team to have success and I thought the last two games we executed that.”
“We're starting to regain our identity and play how we play,” said Matt Bartkowski. “Just solid defensively. Not many breakdowns and not give teams much.”
Boychuk Returns to TD Garden
Tuesday night also marks defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s first return to TD Garden as a New York Islander.
“There’s no doubt we miss him because of what he was in the room, on the ice and everything that he brought,” Julien said. “But at the same time, we’re comfortable with the group we have now on defense.”
“There’s no doubt that the first game back for him is going to be special and first game for us seeing him on the other side is certainly going to be different. But at the end of the day, we have a job to do and hopefully he’s thinking the same way from his end of it.”
“It was definitely different,” said Boychuk from the visiting team room following the Isles’ pregame skate. “Just walking into the visiting dressing room is a little bit different, and seeing all of the guys pregame skating on the other side. It's different, that's for sure.”
“It's nice to them and smile at them, talk to them for a little bit.”
“I mean, if I go into the corner with Looch, it's gonna be different,” Boychuk said with a laugh. “I’m going to have to finish my check on him, and vice versa, he's coming down, if he can hit me I know he's going to be. Even though we're best friends, it's going to be different, but after the game we're friends.”
Similar to former Bruins who were part of the 2011 Cup team, there will be a short video tribute during the game to acknowledge the D-man’s career with Boston.
“Obviously, winning a lot and winning the Stanley Cup,” Boychuk said, when asked what memories he cherishes with Boston. “Being in playoffs, being together with the team - everything. You just remember every memory and it's usually a good one.”
Following the trade that sent Boychuk to the Islanders on October 4 in exchange for draft picks, the blueliner isn’t showing any animosity towards his former home.
"It's tough to be angry, because [Peter] was in a situation where he had to make a move. I mean, it's part of the business nowadays with the cap,” said Boychuk. “I mean, how can I be angry at him when they gave me the opportunity to play in the NHL? And gave me an opportunity to be a regular player in this League - so I can't be angry at them, because they gave me the opportunity to be here.”
The Bruins have all been pleased to see Boychuk doing well with his new team. They just hope he doesn’t unleash his shot on them tonight.
“It should be fun to see him and see how he plays,” Dougie Hamilton smiled. “Hopefully he's not blocking all of our shots and shooting too much on us, so we can limit him and make it easier on our team.”
Projected Lineup vs. New York Islanders 10/23
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Simon Gagne
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg - Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski - Adam McQuaid
Starter: Niklas Svedberg // Backup: Tuukka Rask
Healthy Scratch: Matt Fraser