BRUINS (8-8-4) at THRASHERS (10-6-1)
Last 10 -- Bruins 3-4-3; Thrashers 6-4-0
Season series - - This is the first of four meetings between Boston and Atlanta this season. The clubs will play again on Dec. 23 and 30 and will wrap up the series on March 23 in Atlanta. They haven't seen each other in nearly a year: The Bruins swept last season's four-game series, capped by a 2-1 victory in Atlanta on Dec. 28, 2008.
Big story -- The Thrashers have the longest current winning streak in the Eastern Conference at four games. The Bruins, who finished first in the East last season, are 11th in the 15-team conference, have lost three in a row -- including Monday's 4-1 home loss to the Islanders -- and have dropped six of their last eight.
Bruins -- Boston has been the definition of inconsistency; the Bruins have won consecutive games only once this season. Their 47-52 goals for-to goals against ratio is a direct reflection of the up and down situation they have experienced thus far.
But the B's have also been without the services of forwards Milan Lucic and Marc Savard since mid-October -- a big factor related to the lack of offensive spark. However, both players skated during Tuesday's practice.
"Again, it feels great...not so much soreness anymore," Lucic said about his surgically repaired right index finger. "So hopefully I can make my return, back in the lineup soon."
Coach Claude Julien was glad to see Savard (broken left foot) skating again.
"Good signs obviously. Nice to see him back on skates, and hopefully we will see him back with the team soon," Julien said.
Thrashers -- Atlanta has been as hot as the summer sun in Georgia. Captain Ilya Kovalchuk returned from a broken right foot with a bang last week -- his eight points in three games earned him the NHL's Second Star of the Week. The Thrashers are second in the League in both power-play percentage (26.5 percent) and goals per game (3.65).
The club has also received major contributions from both new acquisitions and younger talent alike. Rich Peverley, who joined the Thrashers on waivers in January, leads the team with 23 points, while sophomore Zach Bogosian's eight goals are the most in the NHL by a defenseman.
Who's hot -- Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas has a goals-against average of 1.71 over his last seven games, though he's just 1-3-3 during that span. Thrashers' right wing Maxim Afinogenov has been on the scoresheet in seven of his last eight games, tallying 11 points over that span.
Injury report -- Lucic and Savard both are questionable for Thursday. For Atlanta, Pavel Kubina and Bryan Little missed Sunday's game against Edmonton; both are listed as game-time decisions for Thursday.
Stat pack - - Boston's 12.9% on the power play ranks last, just slightly behind Pittsburgh, in the League rankings. The Thrashers have won all seven times this season when they've scored the first goal.
Puck drop -- With Kovalchuk healthy, the Thrashers are a different team -- one that has more than enough firepower to make any goalie's night unpleasant. They want to keep rolling. Boston is looking to find the form that helped it win the East last season.