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Need to Know: Bruins at Islanders

Chara good to go, Krug set for 500th NHL game as Boston aims for third straight win

by Eric Russo @erusso22 / BostonBruins.com

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Zdeno Chara will be back in the lineup on Saturday night against the New York Islanders as the Bruins aim for their third straight victory. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that the blue liner will return after a one-game absence following a secondary jaw procedure.

Boston, looking to continue the momentum its built up with wins over Nashville and Winnipeg, will have Tuukka Rask between the pipes for the start of a three-game road trip.

"Hopefully we can continue that, let it snowball into some bonding time on the road," said Torey Krug. "A few great matchups coming up. First one tonight. We hope it snowballs and we'll do everything in our power to keep this thing going."

Here's everything else you need to know for Saturday's matchup against the Isles (7 p.m. ET on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub):

Ritchie Gets Back In

Fresh off, perhaps, his best game in Black & Gold, Brett Ritchie was a healthy scratch on Thursday night against Winnipeg. It was unfortunate timing for the winger as Cassidy opted to get everyone on the roster into a game while their moms were in town.

As such, David Backes got the call as Boston's third-line right winger in the win over the Jets. But Cassidy, pleased with how Ritchie played in Nashville, assured him that he would get another shot on Saturday night.

"He just happened to come out following one of his better games," said Cassidy, who confirmed that Ritchie will be back in alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle against the Islanders. "He's been fighting for consistency, but that's the way it worked out. I told him he'd go back in. He is tonight.

"Hopefully he can build off Tuesday in Nashville. Hopefully that line in general can create some offense for us. We're starting to see a better balanced attack now every night. If we get that we'll be tough to beat."

Cassidy praised Ritchie's physicality, saying that the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder used his size strategically, as opposed to just going for a blow up-type hit.

"He was good at creating separation…get in there at the right time," said Cassidy. "Separate the man from the puck as well. Then it's up to his linemates to get in there in a hurry and win their races, win their pucks. He was good at that. Listen, if there's a big hit to be made then take it, but it's more about efficiency on the forecheck as well."

Video: Cassidy talks ahead of game against Islanders

Krug Set for 500th

Krug will play in his 500th NHL game on Saturday night, a significant milestone for the undrafted free agent. The 28-year-old made his debut with the Bruins in 2012 before bursting onto the scene full time during the team's 2013 playoff run.

"Especially from where my career started, it seemed like a long shot, but obviously enjoyed every step along the way," said Krug. "A lot of good memories and hopefully many more to come."

At just 5-foot-9, Boston's power play point man recognized that the milestone is a quite an achievement in a league that for so long shied away from smaller players.

"There are smaller guys that have been a flash in the pan before and haven't been able to survive the day in, day out toll that it takes to be an NHL player," said Krug. "Five hundred games is a big deal, for sure. Longevity is still a question in my career, see how long this thing goes…all the bumps and bruises have been worth it and hopefully just continue to create great memories."

Video: Krug talks ahead of 500th game

Opposing View

Like the Bruins, the Islanders enter Saturday night's matchup with two straight victories. The Isles - playing their first game at Barclays Center since Nov. 30 - are third in the Metro Division with a 27-12-3 record and 59 points.

Mathew Barzal paces the Islanders with 35 points and 16 goals in 42 games. Brock Nelson (15-16-31) and Anders Lee (13-12-25) also provide firepower up front. Former Bruin Johnny Boychuk (2-8-10) helps anchor the back end along with top pair Nick Leddy and Ryan Pulock.

The Islanders also boast one of the best goalie tandems in the league with Semyon Varlamov (15-5-3, 2.30 GAA, .924 save %) and Thomas Greiss (12-7-0, 2.59 GAA, .919).

Video: Krug to play 500th, Chara and Ritchie return

Saturday's Projected Lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Anders Bjork

Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - Brett Ritchie

Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner

 

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

John Moore - Matt Grzelcyk

 

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

 

Scratches: David Backes, Steven Kampfer, and Par Lindholm.

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