Krejci is close to a return from an upper-body injury sustained on Dec. 27, but he remains on Injured Reserve. Krejci practiced with the team for the first time on Monday before the team traveled and did not take or give much contact.
“No. No chance for Krejci,” Head Coach Claude Julien said pregame, confirming the center’s status for Tuesday night. “He had one practice.”
As for winger David Pastrnak, who has missed the Bruins’ past three games with an upper-body injury, Julien suggested that he could be a game-time decision.
“We’ll see about some of those guys there,” Julien said, when asked about Pastrnak’s status. “We’ll have some decisions to make tonight. So we’ll make those later on.”
This season has been tough injury-wise for Pastrnak. He only played 10 games at the start before fracturing his foot and missing 21 games. He returned from a conditioning stint with Providence and playing at the World Junior Championship in Finland, suited up in three games with Boston and then was faced with an upper-body injury.
“Definitely [frustrating], you know. I missed a lot of hockey, it’s frustrating for every player,” Pastrnak said Tuesday morning after taking part in the Bruins’ optional pregame skate. “There’s nothing I can do. There’s still a lot of hockey left. I have to get back and help the team and obviously get better every day. There’s a lot of hockey left.”
If Pastrnak returns, he might slot in alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand again. That could mean Brett Connolly ends up being scratched. The Bruins’ fourth line of Zac Rinaldo, Max Talbot and Landon Ferraro has been doing everything but score recently. Frank Vatrano, Joonas Kemppainen and Jimmy Hayes have started to find a rhythm.
With no morning line rushes to indicate the lineup, any questions will be answered come warmups (7:00 p.m. ET) or at game time (7:30 p.m. — NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub). The Bruins’ Twitter account (@NHLBruins) will have live updates.
Ryan Spooner and his linemates, Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson, should stay intact, both due to Krejci not returning and because of the way that Spooner has filled that role.
“You always miss an elite player. I think it’s a normal thing,” said Julien. “But to have Ryan Spooner step up there and do the job has been a real pleasant situation for us, to know that there’s somebody that can still come up there and produce.”
“I think Spoons has done a great job,” said his Beleskey, his current left winger. “He’s come up, he’s played some big minutes, he’s gotten some big goals for us.”
“Obviously Krech is a tough guy to replace, but as committee, I think we’ve done a pretty good job replacing him. Obviously we’d love to have him back soon, but for now, we’re doing our job.”
“Spoons is a great playmaker,” Beleskey added. “You know, it takes a bit to get used to someone if you’ve played with someone for a bit, but I feel like we’re finding each other out there.”
“I think I’ve slowly improved,” said Spooner. “And I’m just trying to help the team win right now.”
Redemption from Winter Classic
The Bruins moved on rather quickly from their disappointing 5-1 loss to Montreal on New Year’s Day, but that doesn’t stop the sting. They should be motivated to come out hard on Tuesday night, if for that reason alone, even if they approach every game with something on the line.
“Obviously that was an embarrassing game for us,” said Beleskey. “That was a big stage and I don’t think any of us performed the way we wanted, so you move on from it but you don’t forget it and we’re going to come out and be ready to go tonight.”
Tuesday night marks the Bruins and Canadiens’ fourth and final meeting of the season. Before the Winter Classic, the Bruins had two strong performances on the road at the Bell Centre, getting the result they wanted the last time they were in Montreal in early December.
“It wasn’t the best game for us [in the Winter Classic], so I guess just trying to put it in the past, but in terms of using it as motivation to move forward, it’s definitely something that we’re going to do,” said Spooner.
“I thought the last time that we played here [in Montreal], we had a pretty solid game. Even the game before that, I thought that we played well here.”
Heading into tonight, Boston has won two straight and looks to be trending in the right direction.
For the Habs, despite the big New Year’s Day victory, they remain in a slump and currently own the worst record in the NHL since Dec. 1, with just 5 wins in their past 21 games. They are coming off back-to-back road losses with the latest a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Sunday. They’ll certainly be out to prove themselves, especially with the Bruins just one point above them in the Atlantic Division.
“You just have to look at the standings,” said Julien. “I think every game now seems to have an importance and it seems that every year, we get to this stage and that’s where it’s at.”
“The parity of this League has made it so that every game means a lot throughout the second half and nobody seems to be running away with anything except for maybe Washington there a little bit in our Conference, but other than that, it’s pretty tight, so we just have to look at the importance of what this game means tonight to both teams and prepare yourself that way and you don’t have to look any further.”
Projected Lineup vs. Montreal 1/18
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Brett Connolly/David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey — Ryan Spooner — Loui Eriksson
Frank Vatrano — Joonas Kemppainen — Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo — Max Talbot — Landon Ferraro
Zdeno Chara — Zach Trotman
Joe Morrow — Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug—Kevan Miller
Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
Projected Scratches: Tyler Randell, Colin Miller
Injured: David Krejci (upper body, IR)