BOSTON - After a lengthy five-game road trip, the Bruins return home on Thursday night for the start of a two-game set against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden. Here's everything you need to know ahead of the 7 p.m. puck drop on NESN+ and 98.5 The Sports Hub:
A Tough Test
Craig Smith missed the morning skate due to a COVID testing issue that could keep him out of Thursday's contest. If he is unable to go, Jake DeBrusk will sub in as the second-line right wing alongside Taylor Hall and David Krejci.
"He's sorting through that. Hopefully he's here tonight and ready to go," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.
Video: Cassidy talks lineup ahead of Buffalo
Back with the Boys
Brandon Carlo took part in the skate, his first with his teammates since suffering an upper-body injury on April 1. The blue liner was injured in his second game back from a concussion suffered on March 5 after a high hit from Tom Wilson, who was assessed a seven-game suspension.
Carlo, who has missed 25 of the last 27 games, is aiming for a return to the lineup early next week when the Bruins travel to New Jersey.
"If he progresses well - he needs a few practices," said Cassidy. "He'll get one [on Friday] with us. We'll see about Sunday, but that's his timeline right now, obviously could change.
"But he's done a good job, a fairly quick turnaround for his injury, so we're pleased with that. But again, let's get through the next few days and decide."
Trent Frederic will remain in the lineup after making his return on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The young forward found himself promoted from the fourth line to the third during the Bruins' win over the Penguins and will be in that spot - alongside Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle - again on Thursday.
"Typical Freddy," Cassidy said of his return. "There's just details from a guy not playing for whatever it was, a month, losing a bit of his progression in certain areas. You're certainly not starting over, but it's his first game in a long time. It's more of a checklist of reminders than anything.
"Defensively, I thought he did a pretty good job. He's a pretty accountable guy that way, had a big blocked shot…all in all, I thought it was good…[assistant coach Jay Pandolfo] went through it with him this morning, they probably met for five minutes. Again, just some little details."
Frederic had been out for three weeks after coming down with a non-COVID related illness. Upon his recovery, the Bruins' lineup was set following the trade deadline, making it difficult for the 23-year-old to find his way back in.
"I just wanted to have my feet moving when I had the puck, play physical, get some shots when I get the chance," said Frederic. "There's some small details here and there that I need to work on…hopefully can do that today, have some good jump and get some shots and help the team win."
Video: Frederic talks Sabres game on Thursday
By The Numbers
- David Pastrnak is two goals short of his 200th NHL goal.
- The Bruins host the Sabres tonight in the seventh of eight games between these teams this season and the third of four games at TD Garden.
- Boston had its 10-game win streak vs. the Sabres snapped with a 6-4 loss in Buffalo on April 23 in the last game between these teams. The B's are 19-4-1 in their last 24 games overall vs. Buffalo and 5-0-0 in their last five on home ice.
- This season, the Bruins are 5-1-0 vs. the Sabres with a 4-1 win in Buffalo on March 18; a 3-2 victory in Boston on March 27; a 3-2 home shootout win on April 13; a 2-0 road win on April 20; a 5-1 road victory on April 22; and the 6-4 setback in Buffalo on April 23.
Thursday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall - David Krejci - Jake DeBrusk/Craig Smith
Trent Frederic - Sean Kuraly - Charlie Coyle
Nick Ritchie - Curtis Lazar - Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly - Kevan Miller
Jeremy Lauzon - Connor Clifton
Video: Reilly talks transition to the B's