By: Brandon Flowers | Follow me on Twitter @BKFlowers1
This season has been off to a slow start for the Bruins, but you can say there is some optimism. The B’s have had trouble so far with scoring goals on even-strength. With their best player David Pastrnak still sidelined due to injury, even-strength scoring will need to come from other players on the ice. There is a sense of optimism because the Bruins played the Flyers on January 23rd, and the Bruins scored a total of six goals and won the game 6-1. With the hockey season back in full swing, the B’s have had a bit of bad luck with injury. With Pastrnak already sidelined, Ondrej Kase and, more recently Matt Grzelcyk, have been hit with the injury bug. All this begs the question as to what will happen once everyone returns healthy? Who will be left out, and who will be playing?
Jake DeBrusk has been promoted to the top line to play alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron while Pastrnak remains out, even though he is a left-wing. And so far, it’s worked out pretty well over the past few games. On the second line, Nick Ritchie and Jack Studnicka are paired with David Krejci, while right-wing Ondrej Kase deals with his injury. Trent Frederic has been promoted from fourth-line to third-line left-wing to play with Coyle and Smith. This third-line trio is showing signs that can belong together. Meanwhile, Anders Bjork has been dropped down from third-line to the fourth-line to play with Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly.
After the January 23rdgame against the Flyers, the Bruins look like they have a good formula in place for winning, and they don’t even have Pastrnak back yet. The promotion of Trent Frederic to the third-line has shown great cohesiveness and optimism. The one concern the Bruins will need to address is how their lineup will look once everyone returns healthy. At least one to two players will be left out and not get a chance to play. The coaching staff will have to decide which lines have worked best and adjust when that time comes.
The third-line for the Bruins right now should stay intact even when all players come back healthy. This line has a chance to be one of the best third-lines in the NHL. They have a blend of size, skill, and physicality, exactly the Bruins style of play. When Pastrnak, he will join the deadly trio on the B’s top-line. That means Jake DeBrusk will slide back down to the second line to play with Krejci. The Bruins fourth-line has been flexible in the past, so nobody knows who will stay or will go from that line.
The three odd men out once everyone comes back healthy are Ondrej Kase, Jack Studnicka, and Anders Bjork. The Bruins could look to put Kase back on the second-line, or they could keep Studnicka there because he has shown flashes of potential. The odd man out seems to be Anders Bjork. Bjork has had flashes of being good in the past, but he might end up being lost in the shuffle once everyone comes back healthy. Kase has a 20-goal season under his belt, so the coaching staff might give him the edge to rejoin the lineup upon his return.
The Bruins will have a tough choice to make of who plays and who sits when everyone comes back healthy. The one thing they’ll have is options with the depth, which can be an excellent thing moving forward.