Subban joined the team in Edmonton and has been awaiting his debut.
"He’s going to start tonight," Head Coach Claude Julien confirmed following the team's pregame skate at Scottrade Center. "He’s a good goaltender. We’ve watched him in Providence, we’ve watched him here in practice, and I anticipate our team to play well in front of him."
The netminder spent a week with the team earlier in February and was recalled again on Feb. 16. He's in his second pro season with Providence after being drafted 24th overall by Boston in 2012.
"If I’m him, I’m pretty excited because I’m only in my second year pro [and getting an NHL start]," said Julien. "And with goaltenders, you like to be patient with them. I know our organization has been, with goaltenders in the past — Tuukka’s a good example of that."
"In his second year, he’s getting an opportunity here to play because he’s progressed well, and what happens from today on depends on a lot of different things, here, but I think he’s made some real good adjustments to his game."
The athletic netminder, who players and coaches have said on numerous occasions has the best lateral movement they've seen, has reduced the aggressiveness of his game to be more controlled between the pipes.
"So he’s made a real good adjustment here," said Julien. "Staying basically at the top of his paint, and we know his quickness laterally is unbelievable, so I see a guy who’s poised, confidence, like he always has been, but who has made the right adjustments along the way."
"Pretty exciting," Subban smiled following morning skate. "Just trying to get ready right now and stay focused."
"It's pretty easy just to be patient and keep working and wait for your opportunity and obviously I'm getting mine tonight, so I'm going to make the best of it."
Julien had a lengthy chat with the goaltender near the visiting team bench before he headed down the tunnel post-skate.
Most of the advice Subban says he's received has been along the same lines, whether it's coming from Rask, or his brother P.K.
"Most guys when you ask them, they're just saying, 'enjoy it, don't let it go to waste, don't be worried or stressed too much, have fun and enjoy it, you're obviously here for a reason, so just have fun and try and make the best of your opportunity,'" said Subban.
It's a unique experience to have two players making their NHL debuts on the same night, as forward Brian Ferlin - recalled on Thursday from Providence - will also be making his debut for Boston.
The last time two Bruins made their debuts in the same game was on Oct. 8, 2005, when Milan Jurcina and Hannu Toivonen.
"It's pretty cool to share the experience with someone tonight," said Subban. "Obviously Brian's a good player, he's been playing well the past few weekends I was there, he was playing really well, so I'm happy for him that he's up here and getting his opportunity tonight as well."
Ferlin is set to make his debut on the Bruins' fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Jordan Caron. In his first pro season, the 6-foot-2 right winger is a big body who doesn't look out of place alongside the Bruins.
"I'm really excited," Ferlin smiled. "Obviously something you look forward to your whole life, so it's a huge opportunity for me and I'm just going to go out there and not try to do too much, just try to do the same things that brought me here that I've been working on all year, so hopefully I can go out there and play hard and play my game."
His biggest adjustment has been transitioning from college and his three years at Cornell to the pro level, with his positioning and the pace of the game.
"Just moving my feet, trying to win my puck battles, be good along the walls, take pucks to the net, cause traffic in front of the goalie, just try to help the team score some dirty goals and get to the net," said Ferlin.
The 22-year-old has nine goals and seven assists for 16 points and 36 penalty minutes so far with Providence this season. He was drafted in the fourth round (121st overall) in 2011.
For the Jacksonville, Fla. native, suiting up in his first NHL game has a little bit more meaning. He'll become just the sixth Florida-born player to appear in an NHL game.
"It's really cool," he said. "Hopefully it gives kids from inspiration, that you don't have to be from Boston, or St. Louis, or Michigan, or wherever -- that you can be from Florida and hopefully if you work hard, you can achieve it."
"It's deserving of an opportunity," said Julien. "When things are going well, it’s hard to take guys out of the lineup, but when things aren’t, it’s an opportunity to see some of these guys and see how much they’ve progressed — not only progressed, but whether they can help or not. Our intention is to give him a shot here tonight."
Caron Back In; Paille, Cunningham Sit Out
Along with Ferlin slotting into the lineup, Caron will be seeing his first game action since Jan. 20 in Dallas, when he played two games while Brad Marchand served a two-game suspension. Caron has been a healthy scratch for the past 10 games.
Daniel Paille and Craig Cunningham will be the healthy scratches. It marks Paille's first time sitting out this season. He's been battling the puck, and has just one goal this season through 57 games.
Julien is hoping a night in the press box will help him to take a breather, sit and watch the game, and hopefully come back with a refreshed focus.
"That’s the intention behind it — he’s had a tough year, and I think his confidence is at its lowest right now," said Julien. "And sometimes watching a game from above and seeing things and maybe giving him that hunger to want to get back in the lineup, and to want to be down here versus there — it’s all for good reasons."
"I think he’s been a great solider for us, have a lot of respect for him, and all we’re trying to do right now is we’ve run out of ideas, I guess, on how to get him going, and right now, this is another option that we chose to do in order to help him find his game."
Fighting Through Frustration
Perhaps Milan Lucic's reaction in the dying seconds of regulation in Edmonton on Wednesday night is the best example of the way the Bruins are feeling right now.
The forward had the game-winning goal on his stick with about four seconds left, and missed the net. Frustrated, he threw his head back and slammed his stick on the bench as he went off and had to prepare for the team's second straight overtime.
The Bruins are hoping to bring a more relaxed game to the ice on Friday, in the sense that they need to keep their game simple, and not grip their sticks so tight.
"When we look at where we are right now, I think the biggest, biggest focus is to make sure we get ourselves into the playoffs," said Julien. "We’ll deal with the rest afterward, but we have to make the playoffs first, so it’s important for us to go out there, find our game and let’s not worry about finishing first, second, third, fourth, whatever; let’s just get in there and if we play good hockey, as you know in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter where you finish."
After Florida's shootout win over Montreal on Thursday, the Bruins have just a one-point lead on the Panthers for the final Wild Card spot.
"So let’s try and I guess make things not too complicated for everybody and try to get guys to want to go out there, play, and when you’re focused, you’re a little bit more relaxed mentally," said Julien. "Your execution becomes better. We see times now where our execution is being forced, and that’s all related to what we talked about earlier."
It could help that the Bruins are going up against a St. Louis team that likes to play a simple, get pucks deep, grind-you-down type of game. Matchups between these clubs are always tight, and won along the boards.
"To me, it probably wouldn’t matter who we play, but this is a good team - if you want to get your team’s attention on the details, St. Louis would certainly be one of those teams that you play against and you have to have that," Julien said. "So I’m banking on the fact that we’ve played well against St. Louis in the past and would like to see that again here."
Even if this is a must-win for the Bruins, having dropped five straight, it doesn't matter that Subban will be making his first NHL start between the pipes. A team effort is what will get the job done against the Blues.
"Obviously every game's important right now," said Subban. "Not too many games left in the season, so you're trying to get as many wins as you can, so I'm happy I'm getting my chance right now, my opportunity, to show what I can do, and hopefully get a win for the team."
Projected Lineup vs. Blues Feb. 20
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Smith
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Brian Ferlin
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski - Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Starter: Malcolm Subban // Backup: Tuukka Rask
Scratches: Daniel Paille, Craig Cunningham, Niklas Svedberg