Bruins-Stars preview: Seguin's anticipated return

Bruins-Stars preview: Seguin's anticipated return
November 5, 2013, 4:15 pm
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The Bruins know there will be plenty of emotion on both sides as they welcome a pair of important Stanley Cup contributors, Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley, back to TD Garden for the first time. Seguin arrives as the leading scorer for the Dallas Stars, and Peverley returns as a steady, versatile center capable of playing in many different situations. Both bring the skating speed that helped make them mainstays on the B’s roster.

The Bruins have some experience suiting up against former teammates -- they’ve already dispatched Tim Thomas in their first meeting against the B’s Conn Smythe hero down in Florida. But Seguin is still pretty well-liked within the B’s dressing room, and it’s hard to imagine many boos will be raining down from the Garden rafters as they did for Phil Kessel four years ago.

“With Tyler and Rich coming back, it will be an emotional game for some guys in our dressing room and theirs,” said Johnny Boychuk. “We have a lot of memories together, and we’re friends off the ice. But on the ice you want to do your job, and not let up on anybody.”

That will be the right mentality for a Bruins hockey club that’s lost three of their last four games, is currently out of the playoff picture, and is just middle-of-the-road offensively while putting up 2.7 goals per game.

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRED PUMPED: Reilly Smith has one assist in his last five games, and has been held without a shot on net in all but one of those contests. Bruins coach Claude Julien dropped Smith back down to the third line with the return of Loui Eriksson, and hopes to spark the winger by placing him with the forwards Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg after they clicked so well during the preseason. There’s also the added benefit of Smith getting fired up to play the team that traded him away. The Bruins could use more secondary scoring on the team, and they could also utilize a return to the cerebral, slick playmaking tendencies that Smith showed off in the first handful of games.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “It’s more important we do the scouting on their entire team, and how they play. For us it’s about turning the page. We have a few players returning to the lineup, and it’s about us playing better than we did in the last game.” – Bruins coach Claude Julien, who once again largely dodged any questions about Tyler Seguin.

KEY MATCHUP: Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have been inseparable on and off the ice, and the results have been pretty good for Dallas thus far. Seguin is the Stars’ leading scorer, and he stirs the drink for them offensively, so one would expect that Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk will draw the assignment. Chara will need to be better than he was against the Islanders when he was on the ice for a pair of goals against to Thomas Vanek and John Tavares, and looked more than a little slow and tired after playing close to 30 minutes 48 hours earlier against the Ducks.

STAT TO WATCH: 37 – That's the percentage of face-off wins for Tyler Seguin, which ranks him in the NHL’s bottom five centers this season. 

INJURIES: Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome) is on the long term injured reserve, and is again expected to miss the entire season, but otherwise the Bruins are healthy with the return of Loui Eriksson. Johnny Boychuk (right foot, back) is also expected to return after missing this weekend’s game against the Islanders. The Dallas Stars appear to be relatively healthy as they enter Tuesday night’s game against the Bruins.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask will be suiting up for his 12th start of the season, and will be looking to build on a season where he’s sitting second in the NHL in goals against average (1.73) and fourth in save percentage (.940). Rask should be fresh after being given the weekend off following his shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Kari Lehtonen is 5-2-2 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. He has given the Stars some excellent goaltending behind a team that’s a little more run-and-gun. Lehtonen shut down Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan to earn the shootout win over the Senators in Dallas’ last tilt on Sunday night.