BOSTON - Tuukka Rask will make his second consecutive start between the pipes on Wednesday evening when the Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden.
With Rask having lost his last four starts, there had been some question as to whether he or Anton Khudobin (7-0-2 this season) would get the nod, but Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following pregame skate that he's turning back to his No. 1 netminder.
"He hasn't played a lot lately, Anton has," said Cassidy. "It's been well-documented, [Khudobin's] been playing well. We've got to get Tuukka's game to where he's good with it and playing well. The best way to do that is get him starts."
With one of the NHL's top offenses coming to town (Tampa is ranked second with 3.6 goals per game), it will be a strong test for Rask, who allowed three goals in Boston's 4-2 loss to Edmonton on Sunday afternoon.
"It is a good challenge for him," said Cassidy. "He's getting back in the net against a good hockey club, knowing the other guy is playing well. We've also said we don't mind competition - I think it's good at every position. We've been looking for someone to push Tuukka, we've got it now. We'd like to see him respond as well."
Brad Marchand, David Backes, and Ryan Spooner will all be back in the lineup tonight against Tampa Bay. Marchand has missed the last six games with an undisclosed injury, while Backes has been sidelined for all 12 games this month following colon surgery. Spooner returns after a one-game absence.
"They're great players, great leaders as well - a huge part of our offense," said Bergeron. "It's going to be nice to have them back and it's been one of those years where you have to be ready for whoever is in the lineup to do the job. Tonight is no different."
Anders Bjork skated for the second consecutive day, sans a burgundy non-contact jersey, and has been termed a "possibility" for Saturday's game in Philadelphia. Like Marchand, the rookie has been out for the last six games with an undisclosed injury.
"I'm not going to say for sure [when he'll play], but he's progressing well…we have not ruled him out for anything other than tonight," said Cassidy.
Video: Anders Bjork speaks to media after skating
Defenseman Adam McQuaid skated on Wednesday morning for the first time since suffering a broken right fibula while blocking a shot against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 19.
The blue liner did some light skating on his own under the watch of Boston's medical staff ahead of the B's morning skate.
"Whatever his original timeline was I'm sure he's still on track," said Cassidy. "Nice to see him back out there and the next step for him."
Past and Present
If Charlie McAvoy is ever looking for advice, he'll have a pretty strong place to turn.
During the team's annual Season Ticket Holder event last week, the rookie blue liner was paired up with Bruins legend and Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque. It was the first time the two had met and McAvoy hopes the relationship can continue.
"Someone I've wanted to meet since I've played for the Bruins, obviously the history that he's had. It was nice at the Bruins Season Ticket Holder event to be paired up with him and just talk a little bit," said McAvoy. "We didn't speak too much about hockey or anything, more on a personal standpoint, get to know each other a little bit. It was really nice to spend that time with him."
Tonight's Projected Lineup
Here is tonight's projected lineup, though Cassidy did say that the team could decide to go with seven defensemen. If Cassidy goes that route, Paul Postma would dress.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen - Riley Nash - David Backes
Frank Vatrano -Ryan Spooner - Noel Acciari
Matt Beleskey - Sean Kuraly - Tim Schaller
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller