Linus Ullmark gets a start against Tampa

Linus Ullmark gets a start against Tampa

The Bruins will not only have to play their big game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday without at least one (David Pastrnak) and possibly two (Hampus Lindholm) of their top players.

With a dozen games left in the regulation, the B’s are also entering the contest with their No.1 goalie competition still alive and kicking and adding a little more uncertainty to the B’s big picture.

Coach Bruce Cassidy said after Thursday’s practice in Tampa that Linus Ullmark will get the nod against the struggling two-time Stanley Cup champions. And it is hard to argue against that call (at least not vociferously) when you look at Ullmark’s and Jeremy Swayman‘s numbers recently. Ullmark has been very good (5-0, .931 save percentage, 1.69 goals against average) while Swayman has been well below the standard he had set for himself (3-3, .883, 3.39 in the same time frame).

The good news is that they only need one guy at a time going well, and Ullmark certainly is going well.

But it does seem to re-open a debate that had seemed settled after Swayman ripped off a 9-0-1 record with a .945 save percentage between Feb. 12 and March 12. Up until recently, the rookie had been getting two out of three starts, but Friday will mark the sixth straight game alternating who is between the pipes.

Cassidy was not willing to give his goalie beyond Friday, which is not uncommon. And if Ullmark can’t nab the two points in Tampa, it would be easy to insert Swayman back in net for Sunday’s trip finale in Washington.

But it will be interesting to see what happens if Ullmark gives the B’s another solid performance in a victory against the Bolts. The last time Ullmark got consecutive starts was in late January and early February when Tuukka Rask was dealing with injuries that would eventually lead to his retirement and Swayman was transitioning back up to Boston from Providence.

It certainly seems like Ullmark, who like Swayman has no playoff experience, has a golden opportunity to gain ground on his good buddy in their battle to be the No. 1 goalie.

Pastrnak out for Tampa, Lindholm a question mark

The news on the injury front could have been better, but it wasn’t all bad.

Pastrnak, presumably suffering from a core injury that first cropped up back March 18 in Winnipeg, will not play against the Bolts while Lindholm is still a question mark. The defenseman did not practice with the team on Thursday.

“They were hoping to get him on the ice today. Didn’t work out that way. I know he did some off-ice work. I won’t rule him out, but Pasta’s definitely out, ”Cassidy told reporters in Tampa.

Lindholm left Tuesday’s loss in Detroit late in the second period when his left knee took the brunt of a collision with the Red Wings’ Pius Suter. He finished his shift but did not return.

Pastrnak was hurt the previous night in Columbus when he fell awkwardly off a faceoff and did not play in Detroit.

“I don’t think it’s (going to be) a while (for Pastrnak). We’ve listed him as day-to-day. He’s still on the trip. If it was anything long-term, he’d have gone home by now, ”Cassidy said. “So, will he be ready Sunday? When we get on the ice Saturday and if he’s out there, we’ll be able to give you a better idea then. ”

The good news is that Trent Frederic practiced on Thursday and will be able to go back on his highly effective line with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith. Frederic, who has had a recent history with concussions, took a big hit from the Blue Jackets’ Jake Christiansen. He left that game and did not play in Detroit.

The loss of Frederic might not cause as much anxiety as Pastrnak and / or Lindholm would if they were on the shelf for an extended period, but his third line with Coyle and Smith has given the B’s a different dimension since it came together back on February 12.

McLaughlin could see top six duty

With Pastrnak out, Marc McLaughlin very well may get a penthouse view in his third pro game. The Boston College product skated in Pastrnak’s spot next to Erik Haula and Taylor Hall in Thursday’s practice.

While no one was likening McLaughlin’s game to Pastrnak’s when he signed a few weeks – Noel Acciari was Cassidy’s comparison – the coach thinks his shooting ability could help him fill the bill at the moment.

“If you watch him shoot the puck, he can shoot the puck past goalies on a consistent basis. He’s got an NHL shot already… that’s what Pasta does, ”Cassidy said. “Having a guy on their line who can shoot the puck could put him in a position to have some success in a higher spot in the lineup, but only time will tell.”

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