BOSTON - The Bruins will be looking to close out their six-game homestand with a perfect record when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.
Boston has won all five games - three of the victories coming off the stick of Brad Marchand - without the services of Patrice Bergeron, who is sidelined with a fractured right foot. The Bruins have also been down Charlie McAvoy (sprained MCL) for the last two games and David Backes for one (serving a three-game suspension).
Nothing, however, has seemed to slow down the Black & Gold, who have opened up a 7-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs - with three games in hand - for the second spot in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins are 6 points back of Tampa Bay for the top spot, also with three games in hand.
Video: Bruce Cassidy speaks with Boston media
Boston's 92 points are the third-most in the NHL behind the Lightning (98) and Nashville Predators (97).
"It's our will to win, we have that," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "It showed [in Thursday night's win over Philadelphia] again. We got into some penalty trouble; there were just some odd calls throughout the game. We kept our cool and played through it and played a tighter game when we needed to…that's what's impressed me, our will to win.
"We've had different guys step up during the course of the year. Lately, it's been a lot of Marchy [and David Pastrnak] with Bergy out. That's great. At some point it will be tougher for them, that's just the way the breaks work out and I believe someone else will step up.
"It's just been that type of year - when we've needed it, we've gotten it."
Chicago is on the outside looking in to this point, sitting 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Patrick Kane paces the Blackhawks with 24 goals and 63 points in 68 games this season.
The NHL announced on Friday afternoon that Marchand was fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment. The discipline was issued in response to a play on March 1 against the Penguins, when Marchand (diving) and Olli Maatta (tripping) received offsetting penalties.
The league had issued a warning to the winger following an incident on Nov. 29 against Tampa. A second violation, as well as any subsequent embellishment penalties, comes with a fine attached.
"It is what it is," said Marchand. "It's very small and minor, it's the last thing I'm gonna worry about it…it's not gonna fuel me, it's not gonna bother me. I won't think about it for one more second after this conversation and move on with the day."
Once a player reaches his fifth embellishment incident, the head coach also gets fined. That is motivation enough for Cassidy to have a chat with his leading scorer.
"I'm sure he's aware that they're on to him," said Cassidy. "Hopefully this will be the last one for him…[my] kids need to go to college, so I will have a chat with him, to be honest with you."
Marchand has tallied the game-winning goal in three straight games - two of which came in overtime - and leads the Bruins with 29 goals and 67 points this season. As he did after Marchand's five-game suspension in January, Cassidy spoke to the importance of the two-time All-Star finding the right balance in his game.
"I think we've talked about that a lot," said Cassidy. "You want him to be Brad Marchand and how he's gotten this far. We're just trying to temper it in certain situations…hopefully moving forward he understands that the league is watching him."
Video: Brad Marchand reacts to his fine for embellishment
Rask Feeling Fine
After missing two games with a minor lower-body injury, Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes on Thursday night against Philadelphia and made 31 saves in the 3-2 victory.
Cassidy said Rask felt no ill effects during Friday's practice and would get the start on Saturday against the Blackhawks. Anton Khudobin will go on Sunday in Chicago.
"He was fine, he's good," said Cassidy. "Good to see him back and healthy and ready to roll."
Old Friend Wingels
Tommy Wingels will face the Blackhawks for the first time since the Bruins acquired him from Chicago for a conditional 2019 fifth-round pick at the trade deadline. The Evanston, Ill., native played 57 games for his hometown team, notching seven goals and five assists in his one season with the Blackhawks.
"It will be fun, it'll be a lot of fun," Wingels said of facing his former team. "Great group of guys, I enjoyed my time there very, very much. It was a huge honor, being from Chicago, playing for the Blackhawks. I can't say that enough how much I enjoyed that experience. It meant so much to me to play in front of friends and family on a nightly basis.
"That being said, from the day I've gotten here I've had to put it behind me and I have to make sure that all of our focus is here in Boston, which it is. It will be fun to see them."
Wingels has been a strong depth addition for the Bruins, particularly with Bergeron and Backes out of the lineup. The 29-year-old, who has a goal and two assists in four games with Boston, has brought versatility to the lineup.
"I've been all over," said Wingels. "Third line, right wing, left wing, center, fourth line…whatever the coach needs from me. I'm comfortable in both, it doesn't really matter to me. I think part of my game is being an aggressive forechecker, winning battles. Maybe that's more suited for the wing, but I feel comfortable in both.
"Whatever is going to help this team, whatever's needed in that game, I'm willing to do it."
Video: Tommy Wingels speaks with Boston media
Saturday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Riley Nash - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Rick Nash
Danton Heinen - Tommy Wingels - Brian Gionta
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller