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Pastrnak Out, Rask Could Return as B's Face Wings

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins / Boston Bruins

DETROIT -Tuukka Rask is expected to return to game action on Saturday night in Detroit against the Red Wings.

Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).

Rask has missed the Bruins' past three games, and last suited up on Oct. 20 against the New Jersey Devils. He is 3-0-0 in the three games he has played this season, with a 1.68 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Following Boston's pregame skate at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday morning, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien was asked by a reporter, "Is Tuukka ready?"

"I'm going to find out right after I talk to you guys, but I would suspect yes," Julien answered. "He showed no indication that he wasn't."

If Rask is in, Zane McIntyre will serve as the backup.

"He's a big part of our team and whenever you get one of the best players back in your lineup, it helps you," Torey Krug said, of Rask's impending return. "It helps everybody, and guys can focus and just stick to their jobs."

"He kind of has a calming influence over us as well," said Krug. "When things go wrong, he has the ability to make a big save or a big play and ultimately it can change a game as well, so if he gets back in tonight, it will be a huge boost for us."

The Bruins head into Detroit looking to snap a three-game losing streak that has seen them allow 14 goals and score just four goals during the stretch. While defensive mistakes have cost them, offense has been just as hard to come by.

"I don't want to see anything specific, more than us playing a solid game and getting a win," said Julien. "It's not just one area that's cost us games here - we've given up a lot of goals, I think it's pretty obvious that we've let in a lot of bad goals, so we've just got to get better all over."

"If we do a better job everywhere on the ice, hopefully we'll get more chances and be able to score. We're obviously missing key players in that area as well, so we've got to play an almost-perfect game, minimize the mistakes and just go about it that way."

The Bruins are without David Backes, who stayed back in Boston recovering from elbow surgery that will keep him out last least through the weekend before he's re-evaluated. The hope there is that the area doesn't get infected.

Still, the Bruins won't have him for Saturday's game, and they will also be without David Pastrnak, who was suspended for two games by the NHL's Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of the New York Rangers' Dan Girardi.

"You know, it's not my decision," Pastrnak said on Saturday after the team's pregame skate. "I respect them. You saw the explanation on NHL.com, so I respect that. Obviously I would rather play, and I can't wait to get back."

"You know what, the one thing that I can honestly tell you is that concussions are a serious thing, and the League has taken a serious look at that, they're very sensitive to that, and they want to be very cautious," Julien said of the decision. "Not only do I respect it; I support that."

"Having said that, I'm not quite sure - and maybe I'm biased because he's my player - but you know, when I look at in slow motion, his one skate doesn't come off the ice until after the hit, his shoulder goes into his chest, and goes up to his chin, so if they want to call it a head shot - I just don't know how he could have really avoided it, so I'm having a tough time agreeing totally with those guys, but that doesn't stop me from respecting what they're trying to do, so that's basically all I can say about it."

The circumstances are not ideal and the Bruins have certainly faced adversity early on, but they're focused on working through it.

"It's been tough. It's been a real tough challenge," said Julien. "But you know what? Those are things you can't control, as a coach, as a team and somehow you've got to fight your way through it, and if it doesn't pay off now, you hope that it's going to pay off later in the season."

Heinen Skates with Bergeron-Marchand

With Pastrnak suspended, Danton Heinen skated with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron during pregame skate.

"If that's what it's going to be, I'm just going to try to complement them as best as I can," said Heinen, who is slotting back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch last game. "They're unbelievable players, and just try to be first on pucks and support them all over the ice, and support them as much as I can."

Wings Riding Six-Game Win Streak

While the Bruins are trying to get back on track, the Red Wings head into Saturday night on a six-game win streak.

Strong goaltending has helped them become of the hottest teams to start the season. Petr Mrazek has had the bulk of the starts going 4-2-0. Jimmy Howard, who is 2-0-0 with a .50 goals-against average, will get the start against Boston.

"Just keeping things quiet in there for both of us," said Howard. "You know, we're seeing a lot of shots and at the same time, guys are sacrificing their bodies in front of us."

Howard Support #HockeyFightsCancer with Special Mask

The Bruins recently held their own Hockey Fights Cancer Night at TD Garden on Tuesday, and the Red Wings will host theirs on Saturday night.

A large group of cancer patients and survivors were in the stands for morning skate. The fight against cancer will also be highlighted with several initiatives throughout the night - including lavender goalie masks donned by Howard and Mrazek.

"In one way or another, it's all affected us in some way and it's something small, but it can generate a lot, so it's an honor to be able to do this tonight," said Howard.

Dave Strader, a longtime broadcaster for the Red Wings, helped with the mask designs. He is currently undergoing his own battle against cancer. The mask's designer, David Arrigo, added a special surprise to the mask, by honoring Strader on the back.
 
"He's right now battling cancer and we wish him all the best," said Howard.

Pregame Skates Lines and Defense Pairings 10/29

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Danton Heinen
Ryan Spooner-David Krejci-Austin Czarnik
Matt Beleskey-Riley Nash-Jimmy Hayes
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
John-Michael Liles-Colin Miller

Goalies: Tuukka Rask // Zane McIntyre

 

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