By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
Credit to fellow Black ‘N Gold writer Mike Cratty for coming up with the idea for this article a few weeks ago; check out his article here. This lineup is how I would have things in a perfect world scenario to kick off the year, hence “ideal” in the title.
First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork
Keeping Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron together was the easiest thing about this hypothetical lineup. The two key cogs for the B’s have had unbelievable chemistry throughout their careers and have lit things up over the last few seasons while elevating the play of those around them.
Anders Bjork is the wildcard here. Like we saw with Danton Heinen for parts of last season, a good dose of action with these two guys may be all a player needs to get going. Now, there is still a high possibility that David Pastrnak ends up on the right side where he has been a mainstay and Bjork starts the year in Providence to get his legs under him again, but this combo is a low-risk, high-reward scenario.
Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak
Like Bergeron and Marchand, keeping DeBrusk and Krejci together proved to be a no-brainer as the two have formed a strong on-ice chemistry over the last two seasons. Moving Pastrnak to a spot where he has been successful in the past seemingly solves the problem that has been the gaping black hole at right wing over the last few seasons.
Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Kuhlman
Charlie Coyle was among the missing pieces last season that, once settled in, really paid dividends for the Bruins as he played hometown hero for the Bruins throughout the playoffs. We also saw a major improvement in Danton Heinen with the arrival of Coyle, although his impact was not seen on the scoresheet as much as Coyle; keeping these two together will really help create consistency and production on the third line.
Karson Kuhlman played extremely well when called upon in the regular season and Stanley Cup Finals and established himself as an NHL-caliber player. his style of play should mesh well here.
Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner
Another no-brainer here with Noel Acciari gone to Florida and given the chemistry these three displayed at times last season. The Bruins sorely missed Chris Wagner down the line last postseason. Hopefully, we can expect the same model of consistency out of both Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly this season. I would expect this fourth line to be nothing short of dominant once again.
Extras: Ritchie – Lindholm – Backes (IR)
Brett Ritchie should be a fine depth piece for the Bruins next season, and may even make a big impact like Nordstrom did last season as he’ll likely be able to slot in anywhere on the wing as needed. Par Lindholm will also be a nice reserve piece. With reports that David Backes may be injured to start the season, I’m projecting my lineup holding that assumption; once healthy I’d expect either he or Lindholm to be sent down to Providence.
First Pair: Chara – McAvoy
We have been seeing the passing of the torch in real time with this pairing over the last few seasons. Charlie McAvoy was on a different level during the Bruins’ long playoff run this past spring and Zdeno Chara remains an absolute workhorse on the backend. Assuming McAvoy signs before the season, we could witness something really special in terms of his growth as player this season. There are some question marks around Chara given his age entering this season off of a shorter off-season, but I would not expect too much of a drop off, if any.
Second Pair: Krug – Carlo
Speaking of a different level, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were arguably the Bruins’ best pairing during the latest playoff run. With Krug as one of the league’s premier offensive talents on the backend and Carlo as rock solid as ever in his own zone–and only getting better (assuming he signs, too)–this pairing should pick up right where they left off this season.
Third Pair: Grzlecyk – Clifton
Another steady pairing during the postseason run, Grzlecyk and Clifton proved that the spotlight is not too big for either of them. Clifton burst on the scene in the playoffs after having not played a game prior, and showed that he was ready. Meanwhile, Grzlecyk was arguably Boston’s best defenseman during the regular season and was solid throughout the playoffs.
Extras: Kampfer – Moore (IR) – Miller (IR)
Assuming Moore and Miller are still hurt to kick off the season, Steven Kampfer, fresh off signing his new extension this summer, is the seventh defenseman. Once Moore and Miller return, there will be some question marks regarding the top-six, but Kampfer is likely a perfectly adequate depth piece either way.
Goalies: Rask – Halak
Another given, Tuukka Rask was unbelievable in the playoffs last season after having a solid regular season in tandem with Jaroslav Halak. Rask showed that he is still able to compete at an elite level.
A lot of Rask’s success can be attributed to how well Halak played during the regular season as he was able to shoulder a good amount of for Rask, allowing both of them to be as sharp as possible.