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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, October 5, 2017
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts  Attendance: 17,565

Bonino aims to make Predators' debut vs. Bruins

Nashville Predators at Boston Bruins

  1. These teams split a pair of games last season, with each winning on its home ice. The Bruins' victory in March stopped a three-game losing streak in the series, Boston's longest ever versus Nashville.
  2. Although the 2016-17 Predators qualified for the Western Conference playoffs as a lowly No. 8 seed, they emerged in the postseason, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to Pittsburgh in six games. It was the first time Nashville ever won more than one series in a single postseason.
  3. While the Bruins dominated last season against teams that finished no higher than .500 (21-2-1, .896) they were just 23-29-6 (.448) versus opponents that were over .500. The 448-point difference was easily the largest in the NHL.
  4. Viktor Arvidsson took a huge step forward in 2016-17, increasing his goals total from eight the year before to 31 last season. The increase of 23 goals tied Jonathan Marchessault for the largest improvement by any skater in the league (minimum 1 game each season).
  5. In his eighth NHL season, Brad Marchand enjoyed a career year in 2016-17, establishing career highs in goals (39), assists (46) and points (85). Only 40 percent (34 of 85) of Marchand's points came in home games.
  6. Tuukka Rask is one of only three goaltenders in the league to win at least 30 games each of the past four seasons. He's also one of only four goalies in Bruins history to win at least 200 games (204) for the franchise. Rask is coming off a 2016-17 campaign in which he set a career high with 37 victories.

BOSTON -- Nick Bonino missed the last four games of the Stanley Cup Final with a broken leg and watched as his Pittsburgh Penguins brought home the championship for the second straight season.

Bonino hopes to make his debut for Nashville, the loser of that final series, on Thursday when the Predators open the season against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

"Barring any setbacks, I feel good," said Bonino, who sat out the preseason but was practicing with his new team throughout training camp.

"That's something we'll take a look (at) with the docs and make a final assessment, but I feel as good as I can right now."

Bonino, the third center behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, signed a four-year, $16.4 million contract with the Predators and is expected to be the No. 2 center in Nashville.

"We're talking about a really smart two-way player that seems to pick things up and has been around a little bit," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I don't foresee it being a problem."

The Predators, the 16th and final team to make it to the 2017 playoffs, added Bonino, defenseman Alexei Emelin and forward Scott Hartnell to the mix while losing captain Mike Fisher (retirement), James Neal, Vernon Fiddler and Colin Wilson. But they will also be without key defenseman Ryan Ellis, who will miss four to six months with knee surgery. The defense corps remains deep in front of Pekka Rinne and the question with this team is scoring depth up front.

The Bruins went 18-8-1 under then-interim coach Bruce Cassidy after Claude Julien was fired last season, snapping a two-year postseason drought. They exited in the first round against the Ottawa Senators.

There were needs, both on defense and up front, but Boston did little in the offseason. In fact, one could say the Bruins did nothing, electing to go with developing youth, led by 19-year-old defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who hardly looked out of place in his late-season audition.

There's youth and there's speed and the question will be if it can jell and send this team back into the playoffs.

"We have some really good players that have come in and shown that they're ready to play," said Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who had a career-high 39 goals and led his team with 85 points last season. "We have some spots available, and that's what you need in today's NHL, to have young guys comes in and produce and can carry a bit of the load.

"We definitely have some guys that are going to be able to do that. ... It's going to help us not only this year but the next five or six years."

They do have some injury/illness concerns heading into the opener. Torey Krug (broken jaw) is missing from a defense being counted on to help Tuukka Rask, while leader Patrice Bergeron was day-to-day with a lower-body injury and David Backes stayed home from Wednesday's practice because of illness.

The status on both Bergeron and Backes for the opener was not known.

Last season, the teams split their two games, both winning on home ice.

Thursday night's opener comes on a busy day/night for the Boston-area sports fan. The Red Sox open their American League Division Series in Houston late in the afternoon and the Patriots visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at night.

Updated October 4, 2017

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