By: Mike Cratty | Follow Me On Twitter @Mike_Cratty
With the upcoming season getting the green light, why not continue the BNG line predictions series started by BNG writer Patrick Donnelly with an installment of my own? It feels good to be getting back into the swing of things.
First Line: Bjork – Bergeron – Studnicka
I feel like most people can get on board with this one. It gives Patrice Bergeron two dynamic skaters in Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka that could relish the opportunity of playing with a player of Bergeron’s caliber. It’s pretty solid considering they’re replacing big-time talents in Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak until their recoveries are complete.
Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Smith
It seems that a lot of people think Craig Smith’s best fit is going to be on the third line. I think in a fully healthy Bruins lineup, or the one I’m presenting right now, I think it makes more sense to play him on the second line. This is especially important with Pastrnak out. While Smith was a third-line dynamo in Nashville, I think he would do fine on the second line in Boston. DeBrusk and Krejci’s chemistry could help him to adjust to his new surroundings pretty seamlessly. This line could be damn good and stay together for most of, if not the whole season.
Third Line: Frederic – Coyle – Kase
This is a new look on the third line that I think could be quite good. I think third-line ice time is going to be where Ondrej Kase succeeds, and the addition of Smith makes that idea much more feasible. Trent Frederic and Charlie Coyle especially could form a formidable, physical puck possession duo that can create space for Kase to run wild with his speed and to use his quick release. I really, really want to see this line get a look together this season.
Fourth Line: Ritchie – Kuraly – Wagner
Nick Ritchie should be on thin ice here. Towards the end of last season especially, what we saw from him was pretty underwhelming. He has a lot to prove. Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner’s chemistry with one another could make this a good fit for him. We know what Kuraly and Wagner are about, it will just be a matter of seeing if Ritchie can gel with them. If not, guys like Par Lindholm, Greg McKegg, Karson Kuhlman, Anton Blidh, and Zach Senyshyn will be vying for ice time if they don’t beat him out for a fourth-line spot in the first place.
First Pair: Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Putting Matt Grzlecyk and Charlie McAvoy together is vital this season. In the past as a duo, they have thrived together and should form a very strong puck-moving duo to lead the new-look defensive core, with or without Zdeno Chara. McAvoy had an excellent season last year with Chara on his left, but it’s not outlandish at all to say he could be just as good, if not better with Grzelcyk on his left.
Second Pair: Zboril – Carlo
The one-way contract Jakub Zboril was given as opposed to a two-way tells me that the organization has good faith in him after a strong season with the Providence Bruins last season, and of course, being a first-round draft pick. There’s no better way to help him adjust than by putting him with Brandon Carlo, in this scenario. Both players are sturdy in their own zones and have the tools to be effective puck movers. This duo has serious potential, in my eyes.
Third Pair: Lauzon – Clifton
If Chara comes back, I’d love to see him on the third pairing with Connor Clifton and doing his thing on the penalty kill. Jeremy Lauzon being scratched in that event isn’t ideal, but it’s not like he can’t come in and out of the lineup. This duo is a fairly unfamiliar one, but it has some potential to work and can always be disbanded if it doesn’t work out. Chara’s presence would allow Clifton to take charge of the puck-moving between the two and run wild like he loves to do through the neutral zone.
Scratches: John Moore, Kevan Miller, Par Lindholm
A familiar cast of characters here, with Kevan Miller back in good health as well. Pretty solid depth, you can’t have enough of it. The taxi squad, in this event, would consist of Greg McKegg and Karson Kuhlman, amongst others.
Goaltenders: Rask – Halak
This is very self-explanatory. You know why. If you don’t, well, that’s a you problem.