The Bruins are back in Uniondale, N.Y., Tuesday night to face the East Division-leading Islanders, who slapped the Black and Gold around, 7-2, when they last met there Feb. 25.
The Islanders have won all three matchups vs. the Bruins this season by an aggregate 12-4, all three played at Nassau Coliseum. The Fish Sticks own the best goal differential (plus-17) in the East, followed by the Bruins (plus-11).
The Bruins have been challenged to get inside on the Islanders defensemen and create legit scoring chances. Size matters, particularly along the blue line. When the two sides last met, four of the Islanders’ backliners were 6 feet 2 inches or taller: Ryan Pulock (6-2), Adam Pelech (6-3), Noah Dobson (6-4), and Scott Mayfield (6-5).
In their 1-0 loss Sunday to the Devils, the Bruins had only Jarred Tinordi (6-6) in that 6-2-or-over category. The rest of the D pack ranged from Matt Grzelcyk (5-9) to Urho Vaakanainen (6-1).
Jaro Halak (5-2-1) was in net for the Feb. 25 battering and will be back on the job again Tuesday, as planned. It remains to be seen whether Tuukka Rask will serve in the reserve role. Rask appeared to be in pain Sunday as he made his way to the bench for an extra skater late in the third period. He skipped Monday’s workout in Brighton, and coach Bruce Cassidy said he might opt to go with someone else (Dan Vladar?) in the backup role Tuesday.
Top threat for the Islanders: Mathew Barzal, who’ll enter the night as their top point producer at 9-13—22, identical numbers to the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron. Leading the way for the Bruins: Brad Marchand at 12-15—27.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote in Monday’s editions that the Rangers recently promoted slugger Mason Geertsen to a two-way NHL deal, perhaps with an eye on adding him to the varsity roster for the upcoming pair vs. the Bruins (Thursday and Saturday) on Causeway Street.
The Rangers feel they were pushed around — Ryan Lindgren in particular — when the clubs last met on Feb. 28, a 4-1 Boston win that ended with Brendan Lemieux and Nick Ritchie trading punches at center ice.
Geersten, who was in the WHL at the same time as Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo, is 6-4 and 215 pounds and logged 100-plus PIMs in each of his last three AHL seasons. He is in the midst of being converted from defense to forward with AHL Hartford.
Odds and ends
The Bruins enter the night 3-5-1 in their previous nine games, their weakest stretch of the season. In all three victories, they carried leads into the third period, leaving them 0-5-1 in the six games they were either tied or trailing after 40:00 …. The Bruins have struggled to cobble together offensive production beyond the No. 1 line of David Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand. Dave Krejci has yet to score a goal (0-11—11) and has but one assist in his previous five games. DeBrusk has one goal (1-4—5) and landed only five shots over his previous four games. Hired gun Craig Smith enters with but one assist in his previous six games. He has scored a lone goal since Feb. 1. Rookie forward Trent Frederic has shown a bit of pop, with three goals over seven games … Dobson, 21, is in his second season with the Fish Sticks. He played most of his junior hockey with Acadie-Bathurst, where Bergeron excelled for a season leading to the June ’03 draft when the Bruins picked him No. 45 overall. Dobson went No. 12 overall in 2018.