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Predators at Bruins preview

Bergeron, Backes won't play for Boston; Bonino makes debut with Nashville

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

PREDATORS (0-0-0) at BRUINS (0-0-0)

7 p.m. ET ; NESN , FS-TN , NHL.TV

 

The Game

The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron and forward David Backes in their season opener against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden on Thursday. Bergeron is out with a lower-body injury. Backes is scheduled to be re-evaluated later Thursday after being under the weather on Wednesday, according to coach Bruce Cassidy. Neither took part in the morning skate.

"Obviously we'd love to dress the strongest lineup we can, especially veteran guys ... but one door closes, another one opens," Cassidy said. "That's the way we've got to look at it. There's opportunity for other guys. We've just got to put our best foot forward and obviously there are some good individuals out of the lineup and we have to do it more as a team tonight. That's what's in front of us."

The Predators begin their defense of the Western Conference championship after losing the Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

"I think everybody's ready," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Like I said training camps are long, players can't wait to get through them and star playing games. So we're here finally, it's good."

Center Nick Bonino, who left the Penguins as an unrestricted free agent to sign a four-year contract worth $16.4 million with Nashville on July 1, will make his Predators debut despite missing the entire preseason while recovering from a leg injury.

 

Players to watch

Dating back to his time with the Montreal Canadiens, Predators defenseman P.K. Subban has been a Bruins nemesis. In 30 regular-season games against Boston, Subban has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists).

In his first game since signing a six-year, $40 million contract as a restricted free agent with the Bruins on Sept. 14, forward David Pastrnak begins his fourth season trying to build on the NHL career highs in goals (34) and points (70) he set in 2016-17.

 

They said it

"I think you can take some confidence from that as a team. We built something during the year, we pushed the limits in the playoffs, so there's some confidence that you can take with that about our group. But there's something that's bad that goes with it; that bad can hopefully make you hungry and keep your eye on the ball to push a little harder." -- Laviolette on last year's run to the Stanley Cup Final

"Any time that you can play in the NHL, so for me this is my first regular season, it's something that I've also dreamed about vs. the playoffs. Dreams are coming true for me and I had a great camp along with the entire team and we've had some really good practices lately. And I'm just thrilled to get out there tonight and get it going." -- Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who played six games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season but will make his NHL regular-season debut

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Scott Hartnell -- Nick Bonino -- Kevin Fiala

Miikka Salomaki -- Colton Sissons -- Craig Smith

Cody McLeod -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Matt Irwin

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Pontus Aberg, Anthony Bitetto, Samuel Girard

Injured: Ryan Ellis (knee)

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Ryan Spooner -- Anders Bjork

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Matt Beleskey -- Sean Kuraly -- Frank Vatrano

Tim Schaller -- Riley Nash -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Brandon Carlo

Kevan Miller -- Charlie McAvoy

Matt Grzelcyk -- Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Paul Postma

Injured: Patrice Bergeron (lower body), David Backes (undisclosed), Torey Krug (fractured jaw)

 

Status report

Hartnell returns to the Predators after playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers. He played in 436 regular-season games for Nashville from 2000-07. ... In addition to McAvoy playing his first NHL regular season game, Bjork and DeBrusk will make their NHL debuts. ... Krug is scheduled to meet with doctors Friday and could return to the lineup next week.

 

Stat pack

The Predators are 6-1-1 in their past eight openers. ... The Bruins are 4-1-0 in their past five openers and 8-3-1 all-time against Nashville at TD Garden. This is the 60th time since entering the NHL in 1924 that the Bruins are playing their season opener at home.

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