ST. PAUL, Minnesota — The final two contests of the regular season are just a formality, but the Bruins can still use the opportunity to work some things out before their matchup with the Maple Leafs.
Luckily, clinching with games to spare also provides a chance to give veteran players some rest.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy stated on Wednesday that Chris Wagner will sit out to help recover from a lower-body injury, but David Krejci and Brad Marchand will also get a break against the Wild on Thursday night. Additionally, Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy will sit.
Krejci had been the only Bruin to play in every game to date.
The Bruins have barely had their entire lineup together at any point this season, so there’s some chance to settle any remaining chemistry that needs to be established.
But it would be a tough argument to say the B’s couldn’t use the rest with likely a week until their first postseason game. Ina year where almost everyone has been banged up at some point, taking some control of who is in and out of the lineup is refreshing ahead of what could be a grueling series against their rival.
The Wild have nothing left to play for on their end, with Thursday their final regular season contest, leaving the game essentially meaningless.
The Bruins aren’t treating it like that, completely, with still plenty of things to work out, such as Marcus Johansson still adjusting and another look at Karson Kuhlman. Plus, Zach Senyshyn will be making his NHL debut.
Still, it’s not the type of game where anyone is going to get overly caught up in the final result at the end of the night.
The Bruins sport a different look with everything that can be clinched all settled.
Their lines are shuffled, with Jake DeBrusk moved up to play with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. The second line is centered by Trent Frederic, with Kuhlman staying on and Danton Heinen returning to the lineup after battling illness.
The fourth line is completely intact, while Senyshyn makes his NHL debut skating alongside Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson.
The blueline will be absent of Chara and McAvoy, with Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer returning to the lineup in their place.
About the Wild
The Wild (37-34-9) were formally eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the week. They won their last contest, 5-1 over the Jets.
Minnesota’s 210 goals rank as the sixth-fewest in the NHL. Their shooting percentage of 8.3 is tied for the second lowest in the league.
Zach Parise leads the team with 61 points but will miss the remainder of the season. Their next leading scorer, Eric Staal, has 52 points to his name. Former Bruin Ryan Donato has produced four goals with 12 assists.
The Wild’s penalty kill percentage of 81.7 is the eighth best in the league.