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Bruins Up to the Task with Blues in Town

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON — The Bruins have won three games in a row and a fourth straight on Tuesday night at TD Garden against St. Louis could catapult them into first place in the Atlantic Division.

That would be a nice way to go into the NHL’s three-day break.

“Well, we do play against one of the best teams in the League so it’s going to be really tough,” said David Krejci. “But we’re one point behind Montreal, with three games in hand, so it would be nice to get a win tonight and enjoy the break.”

It won’t be an easy task against the Blues, who stand as one of the top teams in the West.

They’ll be coming into TD Garden on the second leg of a back-to-back after a 4-3 loss to Philadelphia on Monday night. It snapped a three-game winning streak. If anything, that will make the Blues even more motivated.

When both teams face each other, it’s always a physical, hard-nosed matchup.

“Well when you look at teams that are elite teams, you have to look at St. Louis as one of them, no doubt,” sid Julien. “They’re big, they’re strong, they’re well coached, they’ve got speed, they’ve got skill, guys that can score goals, goaltending’s been good this year, so they’ve got a lot of what a team aspiring for a Stanley Cup can have.”

“There’s no doubt it will be a real good challenge for us.”

On Tuesday morning, Julien could sense that his players were up to that challenge.

“I think that it’s exciting that we’re on a roll right now and that we have an opportunity to keep it going,” said Julien. “And hopefully finish on a positive note here before that short Christmas break. So hopefully we’re up to the task here and just continue to find ways to win.”

The Bruins have been doing just that on their 11-1-3 stretch in their past 15 games.

“Well, the first part of the season, there were some new faces and [we were] still trying to figure out the identity of the team, but last month or so we’ve been playing really good hockey,” said Krejci. “We have one more before the break, so it would be nice to finish on a good note and enjoy the holiday.”

Talbot Suspended for Two Games

On Monday, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced that Max Talbot has been suspended for two games for interference against New Jersey Devils forward Jiri Tlusty during the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout win over the Devils on Dec. 20.

Talbot threw a hit on Tlusty inside the blueline at 14:30 of the second period.

The forward will miss the Bruins’ games against St. Louis on Dec. 22 and against Buffalo on Dec. 26 as a result.

“Well, I have my own opinion on it. I have to respect their decision, and I’m going to leave it at that,” Talbot told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m glad the guy’s not hurt.”

“It’s a tough job they’ve got to do and you’ve got to respect it.”

Talbot has never been suspended in his 10 years in the NHL.

“It’s not something you want. I take pride I think in playing the game the right way,” said Talbot. “You know, you never want to be in that situation.”

Before Talbot’s suspension, he had played six games straight with Boston after being recalled on Dec. 8. He’s solidified the Bruins’ PK that has killed 21 straight penalties through the past six contests.

“That’s the most frustrating thing, is that, you know, I was starting to feel better on the ice and kind of got a rhythm going,” said Talbot. “And you can’t be out there for two big games, so you feel like you let your teammates down in that way.”

“I’m going to refrain from commenting on that [suspension],” said Julien. “Because, you know, it’s frustrating sometimes to see a player play so well and a situation like that happening and having to miss two games.”

Rinaldo Ready for Return

Zac Rinaldo returned to practice on Monday and skated with the group for the first time since he was placed on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury. The forward has missed the past three games with the injury. He is expected to be taken off IR and make his return to the lineup on Tuesday night.

Rinaldo suffered the upper-body strain at the end of a fight with Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Hendricks on Dec. 14 when the pair wrestled to the ice with a referee also trying to break them up.

“Really excited to be playing tonight, especially against a tough team like St. Louis is, so we need all of our guns blazing tonight and I think we’ll come out strong,” Rinaldo said on Tuesday morning.

“[The training staff] did a really good job,” he said. “We worked on what we needed to work on so when I came back, I’d be where I was when I got hurt and I think I was playing some good hockey before I got hurt there, so I’m going to pick up where I left off.”

Projected Lineup vs. St. Louis 12/22

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly

Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciLoui Eriksson

Frank VatranoRyan SpoonerJimmy Hayes

Zac RinaldoLandon FerraroTyler Randell

Zdeno CharaAdam McQuaid

Dennis SeidenbergColin Miller

Torey KrugKevan Miller

Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson

Projected Scratches: Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman, Max Talbot (suspended two games)

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