By: Brandon Flowers | Follow me on Twitter @BKFlowers1
As the new NHL season is underway, the Bruins are looking to once again compete for the most coveted prize in all of hockey, the Stanley Cup. The Bruins will not be at full strength when the season opens for them on Thursday, January 14th, against the New Jersey Devils. The B’s will have Brad Marchand to open the season after he underwent surgery in the offseason and has been progressing very well. As for their other injured star, David Pastrnak, is projected to only be back in the lineup by mid-February. With some players potentially out of the lineup, other teammates will need to step up in their absence.
On opening night, the first line for the Bruins will be without one of their deadly trios. Marchand will be ready to go on opening night, so the Bruins will only be missing their right-wing David Pastrnak. With that, you can potentially see some lineup shifts for the first line during the first few weeks of the season. Some notable players that could see time on the first line next to Bergeron and Marchand are Jack Studnicka and Anders Bjork. As for Bjork, he has played with Bergeron in the past as his linemate. They had chemistry, and that could be what Boston really needs to start the season off right. Studnicka has been promising and could get a big push by playing some top-six minutes for the Bruins.
As for the second line of the Bruins, look for this line to be similar to the end of last season. Boston resigned Jake DeBrusk to be on the left side of David Krejci, and Ondrej Kase will be their running mate on the right side. Ondrej Kase is still very young and a little unproven. He was brought in to be the right-wing the Bruins were always looking for, but he hasn’t been that yet but still has potential. DeBrusk had a down season last year compared to the season before, where he registered a career-high 27 goals. The Bruins need him to have a bounce-back season and be the driving force on the second line.
The Bruins have a solid third line going after adding a new addition in free agency. Centered by Charlie Coyle, Nick Ritchie is the most probable to be the left-winger, while new addition, Craig Smith, will be on the right side. Charlie Coyle has come into his own the last few seasons and has been a rock-solid third-line center for the Bruins. Craig Smith is a 20-goal per season scorer that adds some scoring depth at five-on-five. The Bruins have a good power play, but the five-on-five scoring is where they need help, so look for Smith to add some punch there.
On the fourth line for the Bruins, things can fluctuate to start the season. Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner will, for sure, make up 2/3 for that fourth line. Expect to potentially see some shifting on the left-wing between Anders Bjork and Trent Frederic. Bjork has more experience at the NHL level and can fluctuate between lines if need be. Frederic could be used on the fourth line as that rough and tough guy with good size to push some people around. Kuraly needs to be the motor that keeps this fourth line going all season.
The Bruins will have a few new teammates to start the season but will need to find consistency eventually. This season is shortened, so that can be a factor for any team in this league. Look for everyone to do their part and make a push for the playoffs.