The Bruins are glad to be back at home after a long, challenging four-game trip through Western Canada, but they once again have a Western Conference team staring them in the face.
The B’s will host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at TD Garden one week after facing them at the Saddledome in Calgary for Jarome Iginla’s return to his NHL home for the first 16 years of his career.
Once Iggy and the Bruins had their emotional night in Cowtown, the other shoe dropped for the Flames.
Brian Burke ousted Jay Feaster and John Weisbrod, and it appears that things are about to get very real for the Calgary roster.
Lee Stempniak appeared on track to be a healthy scratch Tuesday night when he wasn’t on a line at morning skate, and Mike Cammalleri was home nursing illness with a “questionable” status against the Black and Gold.
The Bruins have managed to withstand the slew of absent players due to injuries and suspensions, but one has to wonder if there’s a breaking point. That goes doubly so against a Flames team that should be showing some desperation knowing the impatient Burke is ready to start shipping bodies out of town if he doesn’t like what he sees.
“It’s not only counting on the kids to grow up and get better over the next three or four years,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “The rules are the same for everyone. The entitlement is over in Calgary. You need to prove yourself on a daily basis, and I believe that’s how we’re going to fast-forward our rebuild.”
Whether or not Calgary has enough firepower to beat the Bruins on their own home ice remains to be seen, but they should be a hungry, motivated bunch no matter what.
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Brad Marchand might be taking up permanent residence in this spot. He’s got 5 goals and 14 points in 33 games this season after leading the Bruins in points last year, and posting 4 goals and 15 points just in the month of February alone. Add to that the kissing antics at the end of the Vancouver game when his team was getting its butts kicked, and it’s getting closer to the time when the Nose Face Killah might need a healthy scratch to get things into perspective.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “It’s important for us to send a very clear message on the culture that we want to accept. It’s about hard work, and it goes to everyone. The entitlement is over in Calgary. You need to prove yourself on a daily basis.” – Flames coach Bob Hartley, who sounds like he’s got marching orders from Brian Burke to snap players into shape.
KEY MATCHUP: Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan both factored offensively into a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday, and Monahan looks like he’s picking up right where he left off two games into his recovery from a broken foot. That means they’ll be getting a steady diet of Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk as the B’s top defense pairing, and that matchup will go a long way toward determining the direction of the game. Chara is back in the positive column with a plus-2 rating after 33 games this season, and appears to have stabilized his shutdown game after a bumpy first month of the season.
STAT TO WATCH: 10-0-2 -- That's the Bruins’ record over their last 12 games on home ice, their longest home stretch without a regulation loss since a 14-game streak from Oct. 25, 2008-Jan. 1 2009.
INJURIES: Dougie Hamilton (lower body) and Daniel Paille (concussion-like symptoms) are out for Tuesday night’s game against Calgary. Chris Kelly (fractured right fibula), Loui Eriksson (concussion) and Adam McQuaid (groin) are on injured reserve, and also out for the Bruins. Shawn Thornton is serving a 15-game suspension. Jarome Iginla (left finger) has been cleared to play after he dislocated the digit in a Saturday night fight with Ryan Kesler.
Mike Cammalleri is questionable while feeling under the weather. Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman (broken hand) remains on injured reserve
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask is back in the saddle for the Bruins against the Flames, a team that he held the Bruins in the game for the first 40 minutes until they turned it on for the third period. Rask actually played in place of Chad Johnson, who was scheduled to play his first back-to-back games of the season before the flu knocked him out Tuesday night. Both goaltenders battled through illness on the road, and the Finnish netminder is rebounding from getting pulled in the third period after allowing his fourth goal against Vancouver. It’s the first time this season that Rask has been yanked from a game.
Bob Hartley confirmed it will be Reto Berra in net for the Flames. Berra has a 4-7-2 record with a 3.18 goals against average and .896 save percentage playing behind a porous Calgary defense this season. The longtime AHL goaltender has settled into a tandem with Karri Ramo for the Flames this season.