Granted, it will have to wait a few days. That’s because Bergeron didn’t accompany the Boston Bruins to South Florida ahead of Games 3 and 4 against the Panthers.
Bergeron skated on his own during Tuesday’s off day and before Wednesday’s morning skate in Brighton. He’ll likely rejoin the team for a full practice upon Boston’s arrival from the greater Fort Lauderdale Area.
“Bergeron did not make the trip,” Montgomery said during his pregame press conference.
Montgomery had a long pause during the follow-up question on whether Bergeron’s injury is long-term. His answer, however, provided a sigh of relief throughout New England.
“We believe Game 5 is likely,” Montgomery added of Bergeron.
The lineup developments ahead of Game 3 didn’t end with Bergeron.
Linus Ullmark didn’t partake in the 15-minute on-ice session late Friday morning. Montgomery labeled the Vezina candidate as a game-time decision.
Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman will get the nod between the pipes. The Bruins also recalled Brandon Bussi from Providence on an emergency basis as a de facto third goaltender.
Without Bergeron, however, the Bruins will once again need all hands on deck to rectify his absence. And after two games full of turnovers and defensive miscues, Montgomery and the coaching staff went with wholesale changes with Boston’s four forward trios and three defensive pairings.
“We talked as a staff, and I talked to Don Sweeney, and we were like, ‘What do we think gives us the best opportunity on the road.’ And we couldn’t come to a consensus,” Montgomery said of the lineup process. “You know how you do the lotto balls and how they come out where you just spin them out? I liked how it came out.
“There’s a method to how we think the lines will help us win tonight.”
Grzelcyk’s return with McAvoy highlights the altered defensive pairings.
Matt Grzelcyk will make his series debut, skating alongside Charlie McAvoy on the top pair. They ended the regular season as one of the league’s best 5v5 pairs. The Bruins outshot their opponents 327-270 and held a 36-15 edge when deploying the Grzelcyk-McAvoy duo at full strength.
Because of Florida’s point-based offensive setup, the Bruins opted to insert a returning Derek Forbort into the lineup over Grzelcyk for the first two games. But their struggles with their outlet passes in transition prompted Grzelcyk’s return ahead of a pivotal Game 3.
“Obviously, it’s tough watching. I’m a lot more nervous that way,” Grzelcyk said regarding his two healthy scratches. “I’d rather be a part of the group and to try to make sure that I stay engaged here and make sure that if I come back in here to play with confidence.”
Dmitry Orlov will move from the top pair to the third duo with Forbort, shifting from his strong to weak side. Orlov’s transition to the third pair will prompt a healthy scratch for Connor Clifton.
The second pairing of Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Carlo remains intact.
Frederic’s promotion, Bertuzzi-Zacha-Pastrnak reunion, and the other forward changes
The turnover bug wasn’t limited to Boston’s D.
Between the slow transitional game and a heated end to Game 2, Montgomery decided to use a unique approach for Friday.
Trent Frederic, who admitted to being choked during one of the scrums late Wednesday, will slot in on the top line. He’ll skate opposite Brad Marchand in top-line right-wing duty, with Charlie Coyle centering.
After spending the first two games on the top line with Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, Pavel Zacha will reunite with David Pastrnak and Tyler Bertuzzi in a middle-six role. David Krejci, who centered Pastrnak and DeBrusk in Games 1 and 2, draws between DeBrusk and Taylor Hall.
Tomas Nosek, who also engaged in a notable heated exchange with Matthew Tkachuk between the benches late in Game 2, will skate alongside Jakub Lauko and Garnet Hathaway in fourth-line duty.
Barring any late developments, Nick Foligno, A.J. Greer and the recently recalled Oskar Steen will serve as healthy scratches alongside Clifton and Jakub Zboril.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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