Jeremy Lauzon will return from an upper-body injury when the Boston Bruins host the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at TD Garden on Saturday.
The defenseman was injured in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Washington Capitals and missed the remainder of the best-of-7 series, which the Bruins won in five games. He scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 41 games during the regular season.
Boston has not played since May 23, when it eliminated the Capitals with a 3-1 win in Game 5.
“I imagine there will be a little bit (of rust); they’ve played more recently in a high-intensity game, so there may be a little bit of an advantage,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I just think the rest for any team is good in the long run if you have aspirations of making a long run, that these extra days will come in handy whether it’s this series, the next series.”
The Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the first round, winning the final three games of the series.
It is the first time the Islanders and Bruins are playing against each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 1983 Wales Conference Final; New York won the series in six games.
Teams that win Game 1 are 495-224 (68.8 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series, including 5-2 in the first round this season.
Here are 3 keys for Game 1:
1. TD Garden crowd
The Bruins are expected to have roughly 17,000 fans in their building to open the series and look to take advantage of having a near-capacity crowd at home for the first time in 15 months. They played in front of 4,565 fans in their most recent home game, a 4-1 victory against Washington in Game 4 on May 21.
“We’re excited,” Boston forward Brad Marchand said. “I’ve been a little envious watching the other games and seeing how many people have been in the arenas, and [I’ve been] really looking forward to that. I can’t wait to see that and how loud it’s going to be, how excited the fans are going to be. Definitely going to have a huge adrenaline rush off of that.
“That’s such a big part of the playoffs, is having the atmosphere in the arena and how hard it is when you go into certain buildings. Definitely missed that in the first round, so we’re really looking forward to that in this round.”
2. Slowing down ‘The Perfection Line’
The Islanders know they’re going to have their hands full trying to contain the Bruins’ top forward line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, who combined to score 13 points (eight goals, five assists) against the Capitals. It’s another big test for New York after it held Pittsburgh’s top line of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust to seven points in six games (four goals, three assists).
“They’ve got all the elements,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Bergeron is one of the best two-way centermen; high hockey IQ. ‘Marchy’ gives that energy, but also that physical element with a high skill level and intelligence. Pastrnak, to me, is a little more of a pure shooter. Maybe Marchand doesn’t get enough credit or Bergeron get enough credit, but Pastrnak’s more of a pure shooter as he’s come into the League and as he’s grown with those two. They just know where each other are all the time.”
3. Beating them at their own game
The Bruins and Islanders play very similar styles. Each like to play a structured defensive style that takes time and space away from the opposition and limit quality offensive chances.
It’s imperative Boston can beat New York at its own game, especially with Islanders center Mathew Barzal still searching for his first goal of the postseason.
“I think we saw that in the season series,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said. “A lot of tight games except maybe one or two, but that being said, it was really tight-checking, structured hockey, and I think that’s what we’re expecting.
“I think the systems are somewhat similar, whether it’s defensive zone or forechecks and all that stuff. It kind of goes back to what we like to do as well. You adapt and you adjust throughout the course of a playoff, whether it’s from one round to the next or during a series. … We’re expecting a tight and a very hard series.”
Islanders projected lineup
Leo Komarov — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Kyle Palmieri — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Travis Zajac
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson
Scratched: Cole Bardreau, Kieffer Bellows, Austin Czarnik, Michael Dal Colle, Anatoli Golyshev, Simon Holmstrom, Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Dmytro Timashov, Sebastian Aho, Samuel Bolduc, Braydon Coburn, Thomas Hickey, Grant Hutton, Bode Wilde, Ken Appleby, Cory Schneider
Injured: Oliver Wahlstrom (undisclosed)
Bruins projected lineup
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall — David Krejci — Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie — Charlie Coyle — Jake DeBrusk
Sean Kuraly — Curtis Lazar — Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk — Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly — Brandon Carlo
Jeremy Lauzon — Connor Clifton
Scratched: Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, Cameron Hughes, Karson Kuhlman, Greg McKegg, Zach Senyshyn, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, Jack Ahcan, Jarred Tinordi, Urho Vaakanainen, Nick Wolff, Callum Booth, Jaroslav Halak, Dan Vladar
Injured: Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jakub Zboril (upper body), Steven Kampfer (upper body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed)
Trotz said Wahlstrom remains doubtful after the forward was injured against the Penguins in Game 5 of the first round. … Lauzon likely will replace Tinordi, who played 19:02 against the Capitals in Game 5 of the first round.