( Photo Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images )

By: Sam Minton | Follow me on Twitter @sam_minton22

Charlie Coyle is finally going to make his return for the Boston Bruins in 2021. The second-line center won’t have a lot of time to get his legs under him as he will only get one game under his belt before the regular season starts.

Coyle went under the knife the offseason to fix multiple issues with his left knee. The veteran center had an avulsion fracture in his left kneecap and a small tear in his patellar tendon.

The 28-year-old started training camp in a non-contact jersey but has shed the sweater and has been a full participant in practices. The next step for Coyle comes on Wednesday as the Bruins play the Capitals in their final preseason game of 2021.

It definitely will be a challenge for the center, who won’t have a lot of time to get up to game speed. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy won’t be many quick decisions on the lineup, with Coyle having a short build-up into the regular season.

“[Coyle] has to play some games here,” Cassidy said. “He’s going to play Wednesday hopefully, and then he’ll need to get some games under him before we start moving the pieces around. It will be [a challenge] for [Coyle], but he’s been skating. He’s not new to the league, and he’s not new to [Craig Smith], and he’s practiced with [Taylor] Hall, so he’ll be up to speed. We’ve seen [Erik] Haula now, and [Patrice Bergeron] is up to speed and [Tomas] Nosek, so we have some guys where we can go easy on [Coyle’s] minutes at the start if we really need to for shaking the rust off.

This upcoming season is an important one for Coyle. He has some big shoes to fill with David Krejci’s departure and is coming off a subpar 2020-21 campaign.

Last season Coyle was only able to muster six goals and ten assists. Those are disappointing numbers for a third-line center, so it would be an absolute disaster if that occurred for Coyle as a top-six player.

The Weymouth native also has some competition on the roster as Jack Studnicka has performed quite well heading into the regular season. Studnicka has gained 15 pounds and seems better prepared for the physicality of the NHL.

But there is no doubt that Coyle will start the season as the second-line center. As the veteran, he has earned the chance, and it is likely that he stays there for the 2021-22 season.

Bruins fans should expect a bounce-back season as they have seen what Coyle is capable of. With Craig Smith and Taylor Hall on the wings, it only seems fair to assume that he will have more production, whether that be putting the puck in the net or dishing out assists to Hall or Smith.

On Wednesday, all eyes will be on Coyle as Bruins fans hope that he is ready to take over for Krejci and lead this new-look second line to a successful season in 2021.