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Need to Know: Bruins at Coyotes

Khudobin to start in goal as Boston tries to snap two-game skid

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Trailing by three goals midway through the third period on Wednesday night in Colorado, the Bruins surged to within one by getting back to basics.

Both tallies - from Tim Schaller and Torey Krug (on the power play) just over a minute apart - were scored from the net front, the result of hard work and perseverance down low. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will be looking for more of the same on Saturday night when his team travels to Arizona with the hopes of snapping its two-game losing skid.

"It resonates. Third period the other night, we scored two goals. I don't think we did anything spectacular other than win pucks and go to the net, be belligerent there," Cassidy said following Friday afternoon's practice at Gila River Arena. "If that's what it takes to get going, you've got to score some goals like that. You look around the league, there's pretty goals and there's goals like that.

"It got us going a little bit. If we can carry that attitude forward that we're going to be hard to play against in front of their net offensively, then I think things will loosen up for us and we'll be rewarded. But that's something that they've got to take that mindset on the ice."

In the back-to-back losses to Colorado, the Bruins fell into early first-period holes, another aspect of their game that has to change against the Coyotes.

"Desperate this early in the year is probably a strong word," said Cassidy. "I don't want our guys to panic and start squeezing their sticks, we just have to use more urgency in our starts and give ourselves a chance to get ahead and get the lead and play with the lead. We've been playing form behind here the last few games."

Video: Bergeron & Miller Update from Coach Cassidy

Here's everything else you need to know ahead of Saturday night's 9 p.m. (EST) puck drop (NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub):

Bergeron Unlikely

Cassidy did not completely rule out Patrice Bergeron (lower-body) returning against Arizona, but said that it "doesn't look like he'll be in."

Bergeron did not participate in practice on Friday, but did come out at the end of the session for some work, as he has for the last several days.

"He's out there skating. That's a good sign," said Cassidy. "Obviously without being able to participate in practice you're always concerned that you need one of those good practices before you play, but he'll be updated tomorrow.

"He could get up in the morning, come and skate and pronounce himself ready. A guy like him will get the benefit of the doubt, but generally I think that's a stretch without having one good practice."

Cassidy did not sugarcoat the adverse impact Bergeron's absence has had, but also did not want to use it as an excuse for the team's back-to-back losses.

"It hurts. He's arguably our best player night in, night out. He makes people around him better. We use him in all situations. But we need to find someone else. It's that simple," said Cassidy.

"I'll do that tonight with my wife on the phone, I'll complain about missing him. But right now, it's next man up. I know it sounds simple, but we've got other guys in that locker room that have to get hungry and respond to the challenge…we got some of it the other night, we just need more."

Khudobin Will Start

After a strong relief appearance on Wednesday night in Colorado, Anton Khudobin will get his first start of the season against the Coyotes. It is Cassidy's intention that Tuukka Rask will be back in the net on Sunday in Vegas.

"Went in the other night and played well, his camp's been good. I expect him to play well," said Cassidy. "For himself and for us, we need good games out of that position, whether you're the starter or the backup, especially now on the road trip.

"We're asking for him to do his part, no more. We've got to play well in front of him, score some goals for him. He's been good so far, so I don't know that that would change."

Miller "Fine"

Kevan Miller took a puck to the right knee during Friday's practice and left the ice with help from trainer Don DelNegro. The blue liner did not return, but appears to have escaped any major damage.

"He took it on the top of knee, there's a nerve there that stung him for a few minutes," said Cassidy. "But he should be fine. I think when you get hit there you can't feel anything, it goes right down through the toes for two or three minutes.

"Now listen, tomorrow it could flare up on him. But right now there's no structural damage that they're aware of."

Lineup Change?

Cassidy said he is considering inserting Austin Czarnik back into the lineup and would make a final decision on Saturday. Czarnik missed the season opener with an illness, returned to play over 13 minutes against Colorado on Monday, and then was a healthy scratch against the Avs on Wednesday.

Here is what the lines looked like during Friday afternoon's practice:

Brad Marchand - Riley Nash - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Anders Bjork
Matt Beleskey - Austin Czarnik/Ryan Spooner - Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Danton Heinen
Ryan White

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller - Charlie McAvoy
Paul Postma

Anton Khudobin
Tuukka Rask

Opposing View

The Coyotes are still looking for their first win of the season, as they have accumulated a 0-3-1 record to this point, including a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. The score was knotted at 2 late in the third period when Wings forward Luke Glendening scored a shorthanded goal that proved to be the difference.

Prior to that, Arizona battled the Vegas Golden Knights - the Bruins' opponent on Sunday - in a home-and-home series in which the Coyotes dropped both contests. The Wings were outscored 9-4 by the Knights in the two games.

The Coyotes are led offensively by former Boston University standout Clayton Keller (3-1-4) and Max Domi (1-3-4). On the back end, Arizona is buoyed by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 2015 All-Star has led the team in scoring in two of the last three years.

"I know they're gonna play hard," said Cassidy. "I watched their game [against Detroit], they came out with a lot of zip early, they just didn't get rewarded. [Red Wings goalie Jimmy] Howard was pretty good keeping them at bay."

Wait, There's More

  • David Backes is out indefinitely as he battles diverticulitis, but Cassidy said on Friday that the forward has resumed skating. However, it does not appear that a return is imminent."He started to skate and train. He's back on the ice," said Cassidy. "We may see him in the lineup at some point. There's a medical decision to be made there down the road. I don't want to speak out of turn on that, but he is progressing in terms of his fitness."
  • Cassidy said the club hopes to have a decision on forward Ryan White, with the team on a PTO, some time early next week.
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