The preseason is drawing to a close and the Boston Bruins have mostly their opening night roster scheduled for Oct. 16.
Aside from the fights of Jack Studnicka and Charlie Coyle for second line minutes, the Bruins had most of their four scoring lines and three defensive pairs settled before Wednesday’s exhibition final against the Washington Capitals. Barring injuries, here’s what Bruce Cassidy’s scorecard will look like in a week from Saturday against the Dallas Stars.
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
What to say that has not already been about one of the best lines in the National Hockey League? After all, they have a 100-point threat (Marchand), a perennial runner-up Selke (Bergeron) and a potential 50-goal scorer (Pastrnak).
Taylor Hall-Charlie Coyle-Craig Smith
Coyle came in as the favorite to replace David Krejci’s void in the middle. After off-season knee surgery, the Weymouth-born forward will get his first crack in the second row minutes with Hall and Smith on Wednesday.
But will this second row trio remain intact throughout the regular season? Studnicka didn’t seem out of place during his two go-arounds with Hall and Smith. The 2017 second-round selection could start the year at Providence in a leading role for Baby B’s after an impressive training camp. Still, assuming he picks up where he left off, Studnicka remains an ideal long-term option for Line 2 duty with the big club.
Jake DeBrusk-Erik Haula-Nick Foligno
DeBrusk barely had a guaranteed place after the worst season of his career. He featured the first flashes of a rebounding season, scoring goals in each of his two preseason appearances.
Newcomer Veterans Erik Haula and Nick Foligno gave DeBrusk a new perspective. The 2015 first-round selection demonstrated a solid push towards the net and a relentless pursuit of the puck along the board, two traits he struggled with a year ago. This should tie in well with Haula’s two-way presence and the work ethic of Foligno’s blue-collar workers.
Studnicka’s presence could shatter the DeBrusk-Haula-Foligno trio on the road – assuming Coyle slips to the third row post. Given their performances at camp, however, the Bruins won’t have to worry about crossing out DeBrusk, Haula or Foligno to go along with a spot for Studnicka.
Trent Frédéric-Tomas Nosek-Curtis Lazar
Even a strong fourth line ends up with a high rate of annual staff turnover. The Bruins re-entered this territory after Sean Kuraly left for his hometown of Columbus.
Tomas Nosek arrives from Vegas after a year of career (8 goals, 10 assists in 38 games in 2021). Curtis Lazar has a year under his belt after arriving from Buffalo on last season’s trade deadline. Trent Frederic became an early fan favorite for his forward-thinking hockey brand – as Tom Wilson and Brendan Lemieux can attest – while barely crossing the proverbial fine line.
Nosek and Lazar adapt their energetic fourth-row roles – with an occasional scoring twist – to T’s attacking potential. Frederic still has question marks, but his level of physical engagement remains the key to completing this new fourth line. look.
A regular at last year’s fourth line, Wagner enters the season as the de facto 13th forward.
The Walpole native has admittedly battled anxiety during a 2021 season shortened by the pandemic. Wagner entered training camp with a new perspective after his wedding this summer. He will undoubtedly have the support of his peers and fans every time Cassidy tabs him to give him a boost in fourth row energy.
Derek Forbort-Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk has spent most of the last year in a de facto top pair role following the departure of Zdeno Chara. The Bruins won’t hesitate to pair Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy again whenever they need an offensive spark.
For the most part, however, they will place Derek Forbort on the first pair. The Bruins signed Forbort for his solid penalty and home prowess. What he lacks in offensive production, Forbort makes up for as a defender who eats down minutes. He finished his 2021 stint in Winnipeg with the longest shorthanded average ice time (2:43 per game) and the third highest average ice time among all Jets blue line players (20 : 45).
Forbort’s early defensive presence complements McAvoy’s transition game nicely. They may not be the best defensive pair in hockey, but opponents will struggle to score on Forbort and McAvoy at 5v5.
Mike Reilly-Brandon Carlo
Carlo’s injury in Game 3 of the Bruins-Islanders second round game had a ripple effect on the Boston blue line. Cassidy’s group struggled mightily as Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon struggled to adjust to a top-four role.
The Bruins now have Carlo back in the fold after the Colorado Springs-born defenseman signed a new six-year contract in the offseason. They can hardly afford to lose Carlo to a major injury, given the organization’s defensive depth remains a bit suspect. He’s adept at skating in a stopper pair or complimenting a blue liner that moves the puck.
Like his partnership with Torey Krug, Carlo will once again have an attacking-minded defender to work with in Mike Reilly. The duo showed a strong chemistry during the brief time they skated together after Reilly arrived from Ottawa on the trade deadline. They will have a whole season to complement and adapt to each other.
Matt Grzelcyk-Connor Clifton
Cassidy occasionally used this undersized pair in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final race. At times they encountered a sizeable disparity, but that didn’t hamper the Grzelcyk-Clifton couple. A unique blend of Grzelcyk’s puck-moving skills and Clifton’s passionate work ethic provide a rather intriguing dynamic to Boston’s defensive core.
Additional defenders: John Moore and Jakub Zboril
Chara’s departure opened up an opportunity for some of the young defenders a season ago. Zboril found himself in the mix and secured a place in the opening squad only to fall out of favor later in the year thanks to his turnovers and difficulty adjusting defensively to a more physical brand of play. of the NHL. Starting the year as a regular at the press will at least give Zboril a different perspective than staying in Providence at this point in his career.
The Bruins took a bit of a risk signing Moore on a five-year contract in the 2018 offseason. The veteran blue line has hardly had a chance to show his potential due to injuries. Still, Moore’s persistence provided a story of well-being during the camp. He will start the regular season as the team’s de facto seventh defenseman.
The Bruins may revisit Tuukka Rask’s situation as his rehabilitation from off-season hip surgery progresses. This uncertainty, however, led to the signing of another former Buffalo Saber at Ullmark on a five-year contract.
Ullmark provided a rare glimmer of hope for the lowly Sabers a year ago, posting a 2.63 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and a 9-6-3 rating in 20 appearances. But Swayman, fresh off a stellar 10-game streak last season, picked up where he left off and outscored Ullmark during camp. Even though Ullmark bounced back in Wednesday’s preseason finale, Swayman did more than enough to secure an opening night start.
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