The Boston Bruins will be without Charlie McAvoy tonight as he deals with some “lingering effects” after blocking a shot, but the team will not be without reinforcements. Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Jake Debrusk are all set to return to the lineup for the Bruins. The team is taking on the New Jersey Devils tonight at home as they try to catch the Buffalo Sabres in the Atlantic Division.
Chara, 41, has been out since November 14th with a knee injury but had been playing extremely well for the Bruins through the early part of the season. The ageless veteran defenseman had logged an average of more than 22 minutes going into the game he suffered the injury, and was the team’s most important penalty killer. While not the same offensive threat he was in his prime, Chara still moves the puck effectively and can smother offensive players in the Boston end. Getting him and Miller back will do wonders to help a defense corps that has been beaten up all season long.
While health on the blue line matters, getting Debrusk back might be even more important for the Bruins. The 22-year old forward hasn’t played since December 6th, but is an integral part of the Boston forward group. His offense, while inconsistent this season, is needed for the team to become more balanced up front and not rely solely on the “big three” (or four, given David Krejci’s recent resurgence). Debrusk’s 10 goals still puts him fourth on the entire roster, five ahead of Joakim Nordstrom and Ryan Donato who come in tied for fifth. That’s not a lot of secondary scoring, something the Bruins will need to find if they want to go deep into the playoffs.