WINNIPEG, Manitoba - The Bruins' season resumes on Friday night with a tilt against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Center. After a nine-day break, Boston will also have its starting goaltender back between the pipes as Tuukka Rask returns following a three-game absence with a concussion.
With 31 games remaining in the regular season, the Bruins know that with the All-Star Break and bye week in the rearview, the intensity level across the NHL is about to ratchet up.
"This last 30 something games is going to be a race for some teams…and some teams are trying to get better position for the playoffs. It's going to be very competitive," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "We have to approach the game the same way. It doesn't matter who we play, we want to play our best hockey, in our system, to our identity.
"Regardless of who we play, every team is a good team and can beat you on any night. If you're not ready it's gonna cost you."
Like the Bruins, Winnipeg is set for its first game following the All-Star Break and bye week. The Jets, currently three points out of a playoff spot, have dropped four straight and six of seven, including a 5-4 setback to the Bruins on Jan. 9 in Boston, a game in which David Pastrnak potted a hat trick.
All-Star Mark Scheifele paces the Jets with 54 points (23 goals, 31 assists) in 51 games, while Kyle Connor leads the way with 25 goals. Patrick Laine (17-28-45), Blake Wheeler (15-28-43), and Nikolaj Ehlers (18-20-38) round out a strong offense attack.
Goalie Connor Hellebuyck, also an All-Star, is 21-16-4 with a 2.74 goals against average and .917 save percentage.
Friday's Projected lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Jake DeBrusk - Charlie Coyle - Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Jeremy Lauzon
Scratches: Anton Blidh, Par Lindholm, and John Moore