Game time is set for 10:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. local time) with broadcast coverage on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Marchand has missed Boston’s past two games in his recovery from a concussion sustained a week ago on Oct. 10.
“It looks like he’s passed all of the tests and he feels good, so he’s ready to go,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team’s pregame skate.
“I can’t wait to get back and play — it’s always tough when you have to watch and especially when you’re uncertain about when you’ll get back,” Marchand said. “So, happy the day’s finally here and looking forward to playing tonight.”
Marchand participated in the Bruins’ full practice with contact on Friday and needed to wait until this morning to make sure he was still on track before being cleared.
The forward feels fortunate he did not face any setbacks during his recovery.
“For sure. Any time you have a head injury, you’re uncertain about how long it could be, even if the symptoms aren’t that bad,” said Marchand, whose post-concussion symptoms dissipated fairly quickly.
“They could go on for a long time, so any time you’re in a situation like that and it doesn’t last a long time, you’re definitely lucky.”
He’ll continue monitoring the situation.
“I think you want to, just to be safe,” said Marchand. “You look at [Johan] Franzen, his symptoms came back after and he’s been out for a while, so things like this can come back at any time and you definitely want to make sure you don’t try to play through things like that.”
Connolly a Healthy Scratch
With Marchand re-joining linemates Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson, Brett Connolly — who had been filling in for Marchand on that line — is expected to be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
“Well, in my mind, he’s still a good player — I think it’s just, right now, he’s trying to find his game,” Juilen said of the tough decision. “And we’ve got some spots right now that guys have played well, so it’s hard to move anybody out right now. With Marchy coming back in, I guess he’s the one that’s getting pushed aside for tonight.”
It would be difficult for Julien to take Chris Kelly off of the line with Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes right now, and put Connolly back where he began the season.
With Kelly, the line has taken off and seems to be developing chemistry, evidenced by their combined three goals and seven points in the Bruins’ 6-2 win over the Avalanche.
“You know, the first couple of games, I generated a little bit — I think just, for me, [needing to be] engaged the whole game,” Connolly said Saturday after participating in extra on-ice work with Max Talbot and Zach Trotman following pregame skate. “And Spoons and Kells and Hayser had a really good game and Marchy [coming] back, and the fourth line had a good game.”
“So it’s part of the business and for me, still looking to fit in somewhere on a line and just got to keep working and things will work out.”
Zac Rinaldo, Joonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell had a solid game against the Avs, with Randell scoring his first NHL goal in his NHL debut.
Through four games, Connolly has one assist, six shots on goal and a minus-4 rating. He’ll eventually be back in the lineup, and when he does, he'll be hoping to bring more consistency to his game to solidify a spot on a line.
“I think that a lot of things play into it,” said Connolly. “But you’ve just got to keep working and hopefully can find somewhere to be, so all you can do is work and continue to get better, and go from there.”
No Time to Exhale vs. Coyotes
Julien was encouraged by the Bruins’ 60-minute effort against Colorado that included another energized start. They’ll need more of the same against Arizona.
“Just realizing over the first four games, we’ve had periods where we played like we did all 60 minutes against Colorado and if we just bring that for 60 complete minutes, we have chances to win a lot of hockey games,” said Torey Krug.
“It’s about just maintaining that and making sure we hold onto that feeling, because it was a lot of fun.”
The Coyotes are not to be taken lightly. Before their recent 4-3 loss to Minnesota that came on the second leg of a back-to-back, they had started the season 3-0 against Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Anaheim, with Mike Smith and his 1.45 goals-against average backstopping them.
Plus, after falling down 4-1 in that game against the Wild, they stormed back in the third period to make it a 4-3 game.
“To me, they were dominant in the third period, which means that they certainly don’t throw the towel in,” said Julien. “They’re young, they’re energetic, and even though they’re young, they’ve got a high level of skill on their hockey club, so I don’t think anybody’s taking them lightly.”
“To me, that start of theirs is not by accident — they’ve really been that good.”
Rask Expected Back Between the Pipes
Tuukka Rask is refocused and excited to get back in goal and have a strong outing after a tough start to the season for both himself and the team. He’ll be plenty rested since his last game between the pipes on Monday, Oct. 12, in which the Bruins fell 6-3 to Tampa Bay.
Jonas Gustavsson played well in his game on Wednesday in Colorado, but the Bruins need Rask to be his dominant self.
“He’s a competitor,” said Julien. “He’s always been a good goaltender and he’s not afraid to accept accountability and he knows that he’s a better goaltender than the first three games and his plan is to show that, so that’s what you expect.”
“This is a sport that gives you challenges along the way and it’s how you deal with him and how you face those challenges that make a difference, so we know what he’s all about and we have full confidence in this guy that he’s certainly going to be a goaltender who’s going to bounce back.”
Cross Staying In
Marchand slotting in for Connolly, and Rask back in goal, will be the only lineup changes for the Bruins.
Defenseman Tommy Cross proved himself trustworthy in his NHL debut on Wednesday night, allowing Julien to keep him in for Saturday’s matchup.
Cross got his chance when Joe Morrow’s battle with the flu placed him on Injured Reserve. He’s given the Bruins a steady option.
“Overall, he was really solid, he was good,” said Julien. “I saw a guy who made a good first pass. I saw a guy who had enough confidence to defend well. I mean, there’s so much he brings, and again, this is a guy I said that kind of has found his game at this level and is very confident with it, and it showed in his first game.”
“He didn’t look like a guy who was playing in his first NHL game — he was poised and again, his hockey sense to me is really, really good, so a guy like that adjusts pretty quickly.”
Projected Lineup vs. Arizona 10/17
Brad Marchand—Patrice Bergeron—Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey—David Krejci—David Pastrnak
Chris Kelly—Ryan Spooner—Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo—Joonas Kemppainen—Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara—Kevan Miller
Torey Krug—Adam McQuaid
Tommy Cross—Colin Miller
Starter: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
Projected Healthy Scratches: Zach Trotman, Max Talbot, Brett Connolly