The Bruins will face the new-look Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday in the two teams’ first matchup since Boston’s seven-game victory in the Eastern Conference first round last season.
But the Maple Leafs aren’t at full strength with Auston Matthews out with a shoulder injury and restricted free agent William Nylander out since the start of the season because of a contract dispute.
Bruins forward David Pastrnak is no stranger to contract disputes (he didn’t sign his six-year, $40 million extension until the eve of training camp in 2017) or Nylander, who was Pastrnak’s teammate with Sodertalje SK in Sweden when they were both teenagers. They remain close friends and their rivalry has blossomed with each one’s emergence as a top-end NHL star.
Having gone through his own extended contract negotiation, Pastrnak knows it’s best to keep his distance from his friend while Nylander is haggling with Toronto.
“I mean like you kind of get texts every day, ‘what’s going on?’ and stuff. And it’s not fun,” Pastrnak told WEEI.com after the morning skate Saturday. “So that’s why I kind of try to let him be and don’t text him. I don’t know about the contract. So as I said I don’t know really what’s the situation but hopefully he can sign soon.”
Another lineup shuffle
With the recall of center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson from Providence of the American Hockey League, a Bruins forward who has been in the lineup regularly has to sit out against Toronto – and Noel Acciari was picked.
It will be Acciari’s first healthy scratch of the season. Acciari’s scratch stems somewhat from the Bruins’ 8-5 loss to Vancouver on Thursday, when coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to see more physicality from the Bruins.
“What I think has to happen with us, the shoe should’ve been on the other foot the other night. We should be initiating contact, they should be chasing us around the ice, plain and simple,” Cassidy said. “And that falls a bit of certain physical players, he fits into that category. Are we putting it on him? No. But we are tonight.”
Forsbacka Karlsson will center Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen, while David Backes will slide down and play on the fourth line with Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly.
Tuukka Rask’s leave of absence means the Bruins need a second goaltender to back up Jaroslav Halak, and Daniel Vladar got the call after he made 27 saves in a 2-1 overtime win for Providence on Friday. The 21-year-old has a 2.52 goals-against average and .909 save percentage this season.
“I mean there’s always something that I can improve, right? But I mean it’s getting better,” Vladar said of his play.
Cassidy wouldn’t rule out Vladar starting Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights.
“We’ll see how Jaro feels,” the coach said.