Bruins - Avs preview: Slowing down the Colorado attack

Bruins - Avs preview: Slowing down the Colorado attack
March 21, 2014, 4:45 pm
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PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Based on the morning skate rushes, it would appear that Matt Bartkowski will draw back into the Bruins lineup after hitting the bench against New Jersey on Tuesday night. Bartkowski has been okay during the month of March with four assists and a plus-4 rating in the 10 games he’s played while averaging 20:37 of ice time. But he was dreadful against Minnesota, and drew the ire of B’s coach Claude Julien when a misread off an offensive zone face-off turned into a breakaway goal for Jason Pominville. He was a healthy scratch in the following game, and should now get his shot to jump right back into the lineup.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “When you look at [Matt] Duchene, when you look at [Gabriel Landeskog] and a few other guys that have come in here as younger players, they’ve had a good year. For [Nathan MacKinnon] to a part of that group putting up elite numbers, it’s pretty impressive.” –Claude Julien, on the group of young Avs stars making it happen in Colorado.

KEY MATCHUP: Clearly it will be the Bruins defensemen corps against the lightning fast center duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene, who really stepped on the gas pedal against the Bruins during their early season game. Duchene dominated with a goal and an assist in the Avs 2-0 win over the Bruins back in early October, and finished with six generated shot attempts while truly putting pressure on Boston’s lumbering defense with his skating ability. It will be a big challenge for Dougie Hamilton and Zdeno Chara to put the clamps down on Duchene, and the rest of the explosive Colorado attack. Speed has been a problem for the Bruins all year.

STAT TO WATCH: plus-12 – the plus/minus for Kevan Miller during the month of March, which leads all Bruins players this month and is second in the NHL among defensemen.

INJURIES: Defenseman Johnny Boychuk (bruised right ankle) will be a game time decision on Friday vs. Colorado, but Claude Julien said he won't play until he's 100 percent. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (strained quadriceps) remains on injured reserve, but is "headed in the right direction," according to Julien. Dennis Seidenberg is ahead of schedule in his rehab from surgery to repair a torn ACL/MCL, and the Bruins are not ruling him from a possible playoff return.  

Avalanche center John Mitchell (bruised back) is day-to-day. Center Paul Stastny (back) missed the game Wednesday, the second of a back-to-back, and should return Friday. Forwards PA Parenteau (torn right MCL) and Alex Tanguay (hip surgery) are on IR, and out vs. Boston.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Chad Johnson gets the starting nod for the Bruins after also getting the call in Boston’s 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night. Johnson is 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and a .940 save percentage during the month of March, and has been a part of some impressive goaltending performances for the Black and Gold. Johnson had one shaky game against Buffalo coming right out of the Olympic break, but has otherwise been excellent since the beginning of January.

Semyon Varlamov gets the call for the Avs against the Bruins, and is coming off stopping 38 shots in a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators last weekend. Varlamov hasn’t started since stopping 38 of 39 shots in a stellar 3-1 win over Ottawa on Sunday. The Russian netminder’s stats suggest he’ll be in the Vezina conversation when things are all said and done: a 34-13-5 record, 2.49 GAA and .925 save percentage for a young Avs team is nothing to sneeze at.