SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN - One game remains on the preseason schedule for the Bruins, as they prepare to suit up for the second game of their back-to-back against the Winnipeg Jets tonight in Saskatoon at the Credit Union Centre.
Game time is set for 9:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. local).
The match-up offers one final look for Head Coach Claude Julien and his staff, and one last go-round before the restless Bruins get into regular season action.
Originally, Julien would have liked to ice his full regular season lineup in the final preseason game, but tough decisions still linger, so it will just be "close" to that lineup tonight.
"We knew we would have hard decisions right from the get-go," Julien told reporters following the morning skate. "I don’t know if they’re harder, but there’s guys that have gotten into the mix that maybe we didn’t anticipate being in the mix. But the hard decisions I’ve anticipated all along."
The backup role, for one, behind Tuukka Rask, has been a stiff preseason competition between Niklas Svedberg and Chad Johnson.
Coach had originally planned for Rask to be in tonight. As of this morning, he's still "probably" the netminder getting the start.
It's not an easy decision, as Julien has to weigh getting Rask ready, while also giving Svedberg and Johnson their opportunities to impress further. Johnson would require waivers to be sent to Providence.
David Krejci left the skate early because of back spasms and is questionable for tonight. In his place, if he can't go, we'll likely see Ryan Spooner centering Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla.
While there may be some nerves there for Spooner, we've seen a much more comfortable player throughout camp and the preseason, so I'd expect him to fit in with the wingers easily. He's cemented himself as the first centerman call-up, having needed to fill in for Krejci or a top-six forward in the past.
"Obviously coming into camp, my goal was to make the team but at the end of the day, if it doesn't happen obviously I think I played well enough to at least get the chance to come up here if something happens," Spooner told me following the 3-2 overtime win Thursday night in Winnipeg, in which he notched a goal and an assist, and was 64-percent on the faceoff dot.
He's proven himself throughout camp, and patience now may be the toughest part.
"I think the writing's on the wall with that, I haven't played the wing here yet. I think they want to keep me at the center position, and I've played that my entire life, so I don't mind waiting. Whenever they think that I'm ready, I'll be ready to go."
Last Preseason Looks
With Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg having the night off Thursday against the Jets, both hit the ice this morning for pregame skate. After playing last night, Reilly Smith did not hit the ice, suggesting he'll be in the lineup tonight in back-to-back games.
With the performance of that line in their two games against Detroit and Washington, it wouldn't surprise me to see the trio back together tonight, showcasing the possible third line to kick off the 2013-14 regular season.
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson, Jordan Caron, Gregory Campbell and Nick Johnson also stayed off the ice this morning, and are likely in the lineup tonight.
Julien confirmed Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton had the night off, with tough decisions forthcoming on Jordan Caron and Nick Johnson. Caron would need to clear waivers before being sent down to Providence; Johnson would not.
"We’re going to have [Nick] Johnson and we’re going to have Caron on the line there with Campbell," said Julien. "Those two guys we have to make decisions on; other guys we have a pretty clear indication and, again, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be on, but we know exactly what we get from the role players."
Matt Fraser and Matt Lindblad both skated this morning after playing last night in Winnipeg. Ryan Spooner would have likely joined them in not playing tonight, since he's proven to Julien and the B's brass what he can do. Krejci's questionable status is what would change that.
As far as defensemen, Julien said Dennis Seidenberg will not be suiting up tonight. It looks like the trio of Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug will all get their final preseason action to help earn a spot for October 3.
Milan Lucic-David Krejci/Ryan Spooner-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Jordan Caron-Gregory Campbell-Nick Johnson
D: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug
G: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson/Niklas Svedberg