Pregame Notes: Bruins vs. Devils – 02/18/21

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By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

Six days after their last game, the Bruins face off against the New Jersey Devils. The two were scheduled to play this past Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to a high volume of COVID-protocol cases on the Devils. The Bruins are looking to get back in the win column after a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders last Saturday. The puck drop for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7 pm EST.

‘Perfection Line’ Split

Following their loss on Saturday night, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was unhappy with the production of his secondary scoring crew. The following day at practice, Cassidy shifted David Pastrnak down to the second line with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie while moving Jake DeBrusk up to play with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. DeBrusk and Krejci have yet to score a goal this season.

Pastrnak has played with Krejci in the past, as has DeBrusk with Bergeron and Marchand. The hope with this change is to ignite the second line a little more and to come into the game with a better-balanced attack. Those lines are the expected top-six lines tonight, but Cassidy could opt to switch wingers as he so desires, depending on how the game goes. Following their loss on Saturday, the Bruins are looking for a strong spark on forward.

Injuries on Defense

With Matt Grzelcyk already dealing with a lower-body injury that will force him out of the lineup tonight, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy hinted that the team would be without Jakub Zboril as well, who exited Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury. That leaves two openings for, presumably, Connor Clifton and John Moore, the latter of who played his first game of the season on Saturday.

The Bruins defense is going to need to do a better job of being active and transitioning well. This is going to be a physical game, and the Bruins defense is going to need to put bodies on the Devils forwards as soon as they get in the zone. Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller did a great job of shutting down gritty Devils forward Miles Wood in their first two meetings, and much of the same is going to be needed tonight.

Coyle, Smith Finding Groove

With the top-six forward group changing up, the Bruins practiced this week, with their third line being Frederic – Coyle – Smith. Coyle and Smith started the season together and played Saturday’s game with one another, but the lineup shifted with Ondrej Kase and Jake DeBrusk missing games due to injuries, the former still being out as of today. Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith started finding chemistry with more and more reps, and Trent Frederic can bring a lot of energy and speed to the group with his young legs. The three have played together before.

Not only will it be interesting to see what the top-six plays like with the shakeup, but the same will be the case for the third line. Coyle hasn’t logged a goal since January 23rd against Philadelphia, his second of the year. Smith hasn’t scored since February 1st against Washington. These two need to get going, and with the energy from a young Frederic coming back to the line, maybe this could be the game they’ll breakthrough.

Bruins Projected Lineup

Marchand – Bergeron – DeBrusk

Ritchie – Krejci – Pastrnak

Frederic – Coyle – Smith

Bjork – Kuraly – Wagner

Lauzon – McAvoy

Clifton – Carlo

Moore – Miller

Halak

Rask

Cassidy has ruled out Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril for tonight’s game. Halak will get the start tonight, per Cassidy, and Rask will be getting the start for Sunday’s upcoming tilt against the Philadephia Flyers at Lake Tahoe.

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