KINGS (31-17-3) at BRUINS (28-16-6)
TV: 7 p.m. ET; SN1, FS-W, NESN, NHL.TV
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' final home game before they leave on a six-game road trip will be one of their stiffest tests of the season, as they face the Los Angeles Kings at TD Garden on Tuesday.
Beyond the hype of the return of forward Milan Lucic, who the Bruins traded to the Kings on June 26, 2015 for defenseman Colin Miller, goaltender Martin Jones and the 13th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, the Bruins are focused on proving they can beat one of the heaviest, most talented teams from the Western Conference.
Things didn't go so well for the Bruins the last time they faced a similar challenge, as they lost at home to the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Jan. 26. The Bruins without Lucic have a different look and a little different approach to the way they play. But coach Claude Julien doesn't think the changes should prohibit the Bruins from being able to defeat a team of the Kings' caliber.
"We didn't play well at all [against Anaheim]. And our guys can be much better than they were," Julien said. "I think right now, we showed in the last few games there, that we're capable of holding our own against some big players and stuff like that. I don't think it's going to be an issue for us. We're not as big as we used to be, but the pace of our game is a little bit better. So we've got to balance that out and take advantage of what we have that's a little bit better. And it doesn't matter if the small guys, the Torey Krugs and the [Johnny] Gaudreaus and those guys are capable of going in the corners, anybody can go in the corners and battle and come up with the puck. So there's no issues there for me."
The Bruins, who are 2-0-1 in their past three games, are interested to see what it will be like to match up against Lucic, who played eight seasons for Boston.
"It's definitely going to be a big challenge," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "He's a great player, but also tough to move and move around and take the puck away from him. So yeah, it's going to definitely be a good matchup."
The Kings are starting a seven-game road trip.
"We know we've got our hands full coming into Boston. So that's kind of what we focus or zero in on," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.
Here are the projected lineups:
Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Dwight King - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Marian Gaborik - Vincent Lecavalier - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Andy Andreoff - Jordan Nolan
Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
Christian Ehrhoff - Luke Schenn
Injured: Matt Greene (upper body)
Scratched: Tanner Pearson, Nick Shore, Jamie McBain
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Brett Connolly
Loui Eriksson - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey - Ryan Spooner - Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo - Max Talbot - Landon Ferraro
Zdeno Chara - Zach Trotman
Joe Morrow - Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Injured: Adam McQuaid (upper body), Chris Kelly (broken femur)
Scratched: Tyler Randell, Colin Miller
Status report: McQuaid has been skating with the Bruins but is still day-to-day.
Who's hot: Kopitar has six assists during a four-game point streak. … Marchand has nine goals in his past nine games.