The six-game preseason slate is over. The Boston Bruins will play for real starting Thursday night in Dallas as they look to march back to the Stanley Cup Final.
Bruce Cassidy and Boston’s upper brass have plenty of options to choose from. The established depth from top to bottom showcased how hard it is for players on the mend — like Anders Bjork and David Backes — to make the team’s opening night roster. Other high talented prospects, like Jack Studnicka and Jakub Lauko, gave the Bruins something else to ponder over with future callups.
The regular season lineup, to start, looks familiar — sans off-season departures and arrivals — given the lack of open spots.
Expect a fluid this season, as several players are working their way back from injuries. Cassidy will also have his hands full managing certain workloads following a long postseason.
Here’s how I envision the Bruins’ lineup shaping out Thursday night against the Stars baring any injuries.
Brad Marchand- Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen-Charlie Coyle-David Backes
Par Lindholm-Sean Kuraly-Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Connor Clifton
Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak
Again, the Bruins have a plethora of other options in case injuries arise or someone’s game “goes to hell” as the great Herb Brooks so kindly put.
In the off chance that Krejci can’t isn’t able to go in Boston’s first game of the season, the Bruins could simply bump up Coyle to the second line and possibly bring one of the younger centermen — Lindholm, Studnicka or Trent Frederic or Studnicka — to fill the void on the third line.
Coyle centered Boston’s second line during Boston’s 8-2 rout of the Chicago Blackhawks’ in Saturday’s preseason finale. Brad Marchand called Coyle the “best player on the Bruins” during the preseason. The Weymouth product could easily fit into a top-six role if needed.
Boston’s third line remains is biggest question mark following Marcus Johansson’s departure in free agency. Bjork, Backes and Brett Ritchie all vied for that coveted spot next to Coyle and Danton Heinen throughout the exhibition season. The former of the trio was one of the more pleasant surprises throughout camp.
Bjork worked his way back from season-ending shoulder surgery and looked every part of an NHL player whenever he touched the ice. Cassidy loves using the 23-year-old on the left side, but the Bruins want him to develop some scoring consistency before bringing him up to the big leagues.
Lindholm will likely slot in for the injured Joakim Nordstrom on the fourth line until he returns to action. Backes, meanwhile, enters the new season in a similar role during last year’s postseason run.
New contracts for McAvoy and Carlo solidified Boston’s defensive pairings. Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) will likely start the season on injured reserve.
Rask and Halak bookend Boston’s lineup between the pipes.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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