Matt Beleskey happy to be ready and able as Bruins visit Maple Leafs
|03.20.17 at 7:21 pm ET|
Last Thursday in Edmonton could have gone a lot better for Bruins winger Matt Beleskey. But it could have gone a lot worse, too.
Late in the third period of a blowout loss to the Oil, Beleskey was working the front of the net when he was blasted in the side of the head by an errant shot from Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.
Beleskey crumbled down to the ice in a heap, and was helped off the ice by his teammates as some blood trickled out from behind his ear. But back at practice on Sunday and ready to play tonight in Toronto (because he’s Beleskey), the 28-year-old felt saved by his helmet.
Strike that, he was saved from serious damage by that helmet.
“I’m glad it caught the corner of my helmet — I’m sure that took a lot of the blow,” Beleskey, now sporting a large bump around his ear, said. “It was pretty funny — you look at [Bergeron] and his nose was bleeding. I think he had my blood on him. It was a tough game for us, but we move on to Toronto and we have a big one [tonight].”
Beleskey’s bump has come with a bump up the lineup as well, as he’ll slot with David Krejci and David Pastrnak on the club’s second line for tonight’s huge head-to-head with the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Beleskey is just another player on what’s become a revolving door of linemates to Krejci’s left in the last few weeks alone, between Peter Cehlarik, Drew Stafford, Frank Vatrano, and now No. 39.
“We need a net presence, a guy that’s willing to go there and occupy people for David and Pasta there,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the line’s need on the left side. “We’ve asked different guys to do it, and we’ve got it at different times, but we haven’t found that consistent answer and until we do we’ll keep using [different] people there.”
In an attempt to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Leafs, the Bruins will give this start to Tuukka Rask. The 30-year-old Rask was given the hook after he allowed five goals on 17 shots against the Oilers, and comes into play with 33 wins and a .912 save percentage in 56 games this season. Rask has 15 wins and a .927 save percentage in 24 career games against Toronto.
The Leafs counter with Frederik Andersen. Andersen stopped 36-of-41 shots against in his last head-to-head with the Bruins, and enters this contest with a perfect 7-0-0 record and .944 save percentage in seven games against the B’s in his NHL career.
David Backes, who missed the morning skate with an illness, is expected to play.
Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
Matt Beleskey – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Drew Stafford
Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller – Kevan Miller