The Boston Bruins will be looking for their third straight win tonight when they host the Florida Panthers at the TD Garden. It is expected that the Captain Zdeno Chara will return tonight after missing six games with a lower body injury. However, it does not appear that left wing Matt Beleskey will be playing tonight. He left the game early after taking a check on his right knee Saturday afternoon in Buffalo.
Based on the morning skate at Warrior Arena earlier today, the Bruins forwards and defense should look like this:
Bligh—Moore—Hayes/Acciari (it is expected Hayes will play)
K. Miller—C. Miller
Tuukka Rask is expected to get the start between the pipes tonight. He made 35 saves in a 2-1 win in his last start Saturday at Buffalo, and is 7-3-1 in his last 11 games. He leads the league in goals against average (1.60), ranks second in shutouts (three), and third in save percentage (.941). His 13 wins are tied for the league lead along with Carey Price (MTL), Martin Jones (SJ), Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ), and Cam Talbot (EDM).
Florida comes into town just three points behind the Bruins, but after two tumultuous weeks in which popular head coach Gerard Gallant was fired. General Manager Tom Rowe then took over coaching duties in the interim. Rowe hails from Lynn, Massachusetts and got his first NHL coaching win Thursday night in Detroit when the Panthers beat the Red Wings 2-1 in overtime.
Besides Rowe’s connections to Massachusetts, the Panthers have several players and personnel with ties to the Commonwealth, and the Bruins. Paul Thompson (Methuen), Keith Yandle (Milton), Executive Chairman Peter Luukko (Worcester), Assistant General Manager Eric Joyce (Dorchester) and Assistant Coach Scott Allen (New Bedford) are all natives of Massachusetts. Seth Griffith (2014-16), Jaromir Jagr (2012-13), Reilly Smith (2013-15), Shawn Thornton (2007-14), Associate Coach Dave Barr (1981- 83) and Goaltending Coach Robb Tallas (1995-00) have all played for the Boston Bruins. Thornton won a Stanley Cup with BOS (2011), while Griffith was drafted by BOS in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. Michael Matheson played for Boston College (2012- 15).