The Boston Bruins complete their second back-to-back in as many weeks when they travel to Ohio to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
Thursday’s 5-1 home win over Detroit extended the Bruins’ winning streak to four and improved their league-best record to 7-1-0. But it wasn’t an average day.
Brad Marchand returned from double hip surgery about a month early, scoring twice and adding an assist. The winger won’t play Friday to help manage his load.
“In no way, shape or form was Brad playing (on Friday),” general manager Don Sweeney said. “You’ve got to put the reins on him a little bit. … He’s just an incredibly impactful player in all facets of the game. We missed him.”
Meanwhile, the Bruins lost David Krejci to an upper-body injury and Jack Studnicka — who has played just once this season — was traded to Vancouver for goaltender Michael DiPietro and the rights to defenseman Jonathan Myrenberg during the game.
With Krejci not traveling to Columbus, Pavel Zacha could play center as he did at times in New Jersey.
To make room for Marchand on the roster, the Bruins optioned defenseman Mike Reilly to AHL Providence early Thursday. But he could be recalled if the Bruins opt to skate with seven defensemen.
“(Krejci) won’t be traveling with us,” coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought (Zacha) did a good job (at center) over the last 30 minutes.”
Thursday’s four-goal margin of victory was Boston’s largest this season. Four different players scored, included Craig Smith, who netted his first goal.
“I keep talking about it, but we have really good depth,” Montgomery said. “We want to be first on pucks, and I think because we’re having success offensively, guys are seeing that if we get first on pucks, we’re going to be able to possess it.”
That depth extends to the net, where Jeremy Swayman made 28 saves in his first action since Oct. 18. Linus Ullmark had started and won the previous three games.
“When I got another chance, I was going to give my team the best chance to win,” Swayman said. “That’s what we do as goalies, and I’m excited that it worked out.”
The Blue Jackets have won three of their last five since starting 0-3-0, but they allowed seven goals on the way to losing two of the last three.
It has been an up-and-down week for Columbus, which last played in a 6-3 Tuesday loss to Arizona. Just two days earlier, the Blue Jackets upset the Rangers 5-1 in New York.
“We’ve come back from those a few times now, but we can’t make that a habit,” defenseman Zach Werenski said. “Obviously, (we had) some breakdowns. That can’t happen. Giving up five, six goals a game, you’re not going to win many.”
Injury-related moves have been a recent story. Top winger Patrik Laine has returned from an elbow sprain, but defenseman Nick Blankenburg (upper body) left the game in New York and did not play against the Coyotes.
Fellow blueliner Adam Boqvist joined injured reserve, as a broken foot is expected to sideline him for six weeks. David Jiricek was recalled from AHL Cleveland after being drafted sixth overall this summer.
“The way he plays, he’s very assertive, he’s aggressive, he trusts himself,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “He’s a guy that’s excited to play. He loves to compete. That was the one word they said, he’s very, very competitive. I love to hear that.”
Jiricek’s opportunity is here. He will follow Seattle’s Shane Wright and Montreal’s Juraj Slafkovsky as 2022 draftees to play in the NHL.
Just a Sunday game at New Jersey separates the Blue Jackets from heading to Finland for the NHL Global Series next weekend.
–Field Level Media