Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) looks for a pass during the game between the Bruins and Washington Capitals on October 3 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo
BOSTON -- Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy may well have provided a clue to a key question as Boston gets set to host the Nashville Predators in a Saturday matinee.
With Patrice Bergeron about to return from an upper-body injury, Cassidy had his talented and versatile center playing with former linemate Brad Marchand and Danton Heinen at Friday's practice. That left David Pastrnak, the former third member of the Bergeron line, skating with the suddenly hot David Krejci and Joakim Nordstrom.
Before Bergeron suffered a rib/sternoclavicular injury that knocked him out for a month, the Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak unit had turned the Bruins into a one-line team in terms of scoring.
Krejci slid into that top spot and has started scoring, leading to the thought the club could have two potent lines.
Jake DeBrusk is still out with a concussion but could slide into the top two units.
"Yes, again Jake always factors into that," Cassidy said Thursday. "And without getting ahead of myself ... yes, we could go in pairs and (Bergeron and Brad Marchand), (Pastrnak and Krejci) and where Jake goes from there if he's in fact playing.
"That's where the problems come in. If you split them up now, the third line we've kind of wanted to keep those kids together, something's got to give on the other lines and that's a good problem to have, like I said, because listen we want (Bergeron) in the lineup, we want (Krejci) in the lineup. That's our 1A and 1B up the middle but we'll sort it out from there, which we've kind of done all year, which is see what fits best."
The Predators, like the Bruins, have been hammered by injuries. But they are saddled with a nine-game road losing streak that came after the club won its first eight away from home.
They are 0-3 on their current four-game trip, scoring five goals in the three games.
Thursday night marked the second straight 2-1 loss, this one at Philadelphia and to young goaltender Carter Hart, who made 31 saves in winning his second straight NHL start.
"We had some good looks," Ryan Johansen said. "The young kid in net made some good saves, made our 5-on-3 look bad. We came in during the intermission and we were all frustrated."
Nov. 1 in Nashville, Pekka Rinne made 26 saves in a 1-0 Predators victory -- Jaroslav Halak playing well in the loss. That kept the home team in charge in this series; a Bruins win Saturday would make it three straight seasons each team has won on its home ice.
Halak has allowed one goal -- a late tally Thursday night -- in winning at Montreal on Monday and at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. He will make a third straight start Saturday, with Tuukka Rask getting the call at Carolina on Sunday.
Halak, 11-5-2 with three shutouts and a league-best .930 save percentage on the season, is 14-4-5 with a 1.91 goals-against average and .930 save percentage lifetime against the Predators.
Rinne, 14-7-1 with a league-leading 2.07 GAA and .927 save percentage, is 6-2-1 with 2.06/.936 numbers lifetime against the Bruins.
Asked about his team's rash of injuries, which have including P.K. Subban missing the last 19 games, Predators coach Peter Laviolette said, "It's been substantial. But no sense crying about it. We have to win hockey games."