Boston is set to host the New York Islanders in the first game of a back-to-back set that concludes with the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
The Bruins and Islanders have split the season series thus far, with the Black and Gold taking the most recent game 5-2 on Long Island on Jan. 29.
While the B's stayed off the ice, Isles did hold a pregame skate in Boston, and Head Coach Jack Capuano disclosed that former Bruin Chad Johnson would be starting between the pipes.
Johnson has made 14 appearances for the Islanders this season, posting a 6-6-0 record. He got the nod the last time the Isles were in Boston, backstopping his team to a 3-2 win on Oct. 23.
"I think the last time I was here was early in the year and went well for our team and myself," said Johnson. "Just looking to have another good game like I did last time and try to get back on track. It will be my second start in a week, so hopefully have a little more flow to my game than in the past and try to get things consistent and on a good rhythm here."
The Boston faithful might remember that game best for the knee injury Zdeno Chara sustained, but the Isles remember a strong early-season effort.
"I think as a group, we just had a good game plan and we played hard as a group and for myself, I know I definitely had some lucky bounces and a couple lucky saves, but I think it was just everything went well for the group," said the netminder. "And it was a full 60-minute effort, that's the one thing I remember is we really grinded it out until the very end and it worked for us then, and hopefully we can try and get two points tonight."
The Islanders are currently second in the Metropolitan Division with 67 points behind Pittsburgh. They have hovered near the top of their division all season.
"Nobody picked us at the start of the year to be where we are," said Capuano. "We go about our business a certain way in that room and we just want to continue to play the way we play hockey till the end of the year."
"I like this group, I like the maturity of this group…For the most part, they share 60 minutes of hockey, they've been pretty consistent with that."
The Bruins have respected the Isles' play all season, and even stretching back to last season, when the team was starting to turn a corner, led by center John Tavares. They have solidified themselves all year as a tough team to matchup against.
"Obviously it's a long season and we're just handling the ups and downs a lot better," said Tavares. "I think - I know it's so cliche, but just the one game at a time mentality and focusing on whoever we're playing, not taking anyone for granted."
"We just come ready to play, know the way we need to play to be successful and we've done a good job of that here. And obviously the additions we've made have made us a deeper hockey team, a harder team to match up against."
"Just taking it one game at a time," echoed Johnny Boychuk, one of those additions. "Like everybody's been saying for the last five years, six years, you know, you bring that [mindset from Boston to] here and that's what you have to do. It's - you have to learn from what you've done wrong and even if you lose, you still take the good and the bad out of it and try to bring good things to the next game."
"We've been playing well and we have a good feeling in this locker room. You have to just continue to play well and do the right things."
Limiting Isles' Speed
On the flip side, the Bruins have also been finding success by taking that "one game a time" approach that Julien claims "is not science - it's simple."
They'll be using Saturday night's game to hopefully bounce back from a 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday night in New York City.
Like the Rangers, the Isles' speed and skill can do damage when not limited. The B's must execute their game plan much better, deploying their strong transition game.
"When you look at their lineup, there's a lot of talent there and as I mentioned the last time we played them, they've solidified themselves in goal and some veteran D back there has really helped out a lot and talent up front is just getting better and better every year," said Julien. "So I said it last game and I'm going to say it again, there's a lot of respect for that team and we have to be at our best in order to beat that team - they've got good speed, good skill and we've got to play tight."
While the Bruins know what to expect from the Islanders, Johnson knows exactly what they'll face from Boston.
"They have a good system and really well-coached and they play hard, especially in this building," said the goaltender. "I think knowing last year and being on that side of it, they're consistent throughout and their third periods are usually their best, so I think if you have a lead or you're in a game, you've got to try and play 60 minutes because this team, they'll take advantage of your mistakes and they play extremely hard and heavy."
"It's going to be exciting, definitely for myself, to get back to this arena and play against them again."
Putting the Game in Perspective
The Islanders have their fathers with them on the road trip to Boston. Many teams around the League have similar trips throughout the season, allowing the opportunity for parents to catch a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.
"I mean, your parents are everything," said Johnson. "[My Dad] coached me a lot of my younger years and he was always there for support when things weren't going well and when things were going well, he was there to keep you modest and working hard."
"There's so many things you can think about, from the training to just talking to you about the game and tying your skates, just so many little things, you know? How I do things is because of him, the way I put on my gear, and tie my skates and everything, you owe everything to your parents and they teach you the way of being a hockey player, so I owe everything to him."
Projected Lineup vs. Islanders Feb. 7
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Reilly Smith
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - David Pastrnak
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Malcolm Subban*
Scratches: Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron
*The Bruins did not hold a morning skate prior to Saturday's game, so the best indication of a starting goaltender can be expected to come when Head Coach Claude Julien addresses media pregame at 5:50 p.m. ET, or when warmups begin at 6:30 p.m. (follow live updates on Twitter @NHLBruins). If Subban starts, it would be the first NHL start of his career.