SHARKS (8-0-1) at BRUINS (6-2-0)
TV: NHLN-US, CSN-CA, NESN
Season series: This is the first of two games. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Boston Bruins twice in 2011-12, including 4-2 at TD Garden on Oct. 22, 2011.
Big story: Two of the best teams in the NHL, with one regulation loss between them since Oct. 12, meet with a unique subplot. Sharks forward Freddie Hamilton will play his second NHL game Thursday, this one against younger brother Dougie Hamilton, a Bruins defenseman.
Freddie was called up by San Jose to fill in for injured Brent Burns; the 21-year-old played most of his debut Monday against the Detroit Red Wings on a line with Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton. With Burns ruled out, Freddie is likely to be there again, possibly matched up against Dougie at times.
"If we are, it's going to be really cool," Freddie told CSN Bay Area on Wednesday. "It's going to be cool for both of us, and our parents. We're hoping. It's definitely going to be a strange, but cool, experience."
Dougie, 20, made his NHL debut Jan. 19, 2013, against the New York Rangers. He played 42 regular-season games and seven in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I think it’s something we’ve been thinking about I guess our whole lives," Dougie said after Boston's morning skate on Thursday. "I think it’s obviously just exciting that it’s happening and I’ll probably smile at him in warmup and just treat him like another player out there on the ice. It should be fun.”
Sharks: San Jose has been practicing in Boston for two days, and prior to arriving acquired forward Mike Brown in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers. Brown left the Oilers as they were finishing a six-game, 11-day road trip, joining the Sharks in time for the second of a five-game, 10-day trip.
"It's pretty cool to go from the bottom to the top (of the standings)," Brown told the Sharks' website Wednesday. "Your initial reaction when you get traded is to look toward the positives, and that's what I did at first."
Brown, a speedy skater, will provide the Sharks with some toughness in the injury-caused absence of forwards Raffi Torres and Adam Burish.
"I hope I fit in; that's what they brought me here for," Brown said. "I've been told not to change anything. I'm here because of the way I play."
Two Sharks, Hertl and Dan Boyle, have been on the receiving end of hits that resulted in suspensions for Alexander Edler of the Vancouver Canucks and Maxim Lapierre of the St. Louis Blues, respectively.
"I think everyone on this team plays hard, but there are certain guys when you look at a lineup that you think twice about … you know might be barreling down on you in a corner, or agitating to play against," forward Tommy Wingels said. "In that sense, [Brown's] presence will be noticed, and we're looking forward to getting him in the lineup."
Bruins: Boston had to travel home from Buffalo after a 5-2 win that ended a three-game road trip that started in Florida. The Bruins came home without forward Loui Eriksson, who was injured on a third-period hit by Sabres forward John Scott. Eriksson stayed at a Buffalo hospital overnight.
To Boston coach Claude Julien, the best thing was that the Bruins were able to score on the ensuing power play to put the game away.
"That was a big goal for us," he said. "We kept playing our game right to the end. We've got some important things here going on, so we have to focus on that and we had to finish the job here tonight."
Tuukka Rask will start in goal after Chad Johnson made his Bruins debut Wednesday.
Who's hot: Goalie Antti Niemi has played every game for the Sharks, with a 1.64 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. The Sharks have five players (Joe Pavelski, 12 points; Patrick Marleau, 11; Logan Couture, 11; Thornton, 11; Hertl 10) in the NHL top 16 in scoring. … Bruins forward Milan Lucic scored twice with an assist Wednesday and has a point in six of the eight games. Forward David Krejci has a five-game point streak (one goal, five assists).
Injury report: Boyle (upper body) rejoined the team but will not play. Burns (mouth) and Burish (lower body) are out. Torres (knee) skated Tuesday. … Eriksson (undisclosed) left the game with 14:11 remaining and needed assistance to skate off the ice.