By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
If the skates of Brad Marchand weren’t enough to try and fill while the left-wing rehabs from offseason hip surgery, coach Jim Montgomery now has the task of replacing Taylor Hall on David Krejci’s line following the upper body injury Hall suffered during the Bruins preseason tilt against the Flyers on October 1.
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At first glance, Montgomery said he would look at Pavel Zacha replacing Hall on the Krejci-David Pastrnak line.
“They come from the same school of thought with their upbringing,” he said. “So, let’s see what it looks like.”
“There’s a school they’re brought up with, a style of play that makes it a little simpler for them to understand each other. It’s not a language thing; it’s more the school of the way [of] their upbringing and raised, the thought of hockey, the schools they have, and the way they play is consistent.”
The preseason game against the Rangers on October 5 gave the coaching staff and the fans a taste of what the Czech line can bring during Hall’s absence, and they did not disappoint, combining for eight points, each scoring a goal in the 5-4 victory over the Blue Shirts.
With Montgomery giving Zacha a look on the Krejci line, who does he plan to slot next to Bergeron in Marchand’s absence? The top contenders with less than a week left of camp are Nick Foligno, Trent Frederic, and AJ Greer. Each would bring something unique to the Bergeron-Jake Debrusk duo until Marchand returns, but who would be the best fit?
Much to the chagrin of Bruins’ fans, it looks like Foligno is the front-runner since he has been flanked on Bergeron’s left wing for the most recent practices. Adding more salt to the wound, despite management repeatedly stating that they need to integrate youth into the line-up, Marc McLaughlin was assigned to Providence when the Bruins made roster transactions on October 6.
So with the top six pretty much set for opening night against Washington on October 12, what happens when Hall returns?
I’m a big proponent of “don’t fix what isn’t broken,” so if the Czech line is producing, why break them up? Hall can slide into Bergeron’s line and give the Bruins more scoring depth. I’d keep the Czech line together even after Marchand returns.
Why not try Hall on the right side with Bergeron and Marchand and then add DeBrusk to the Charlie Coyle line, which should be without Craig Smith once the team is healthy and in need of shedding cap space? Why isn’t Montgomery trying Smith with Bergeron and DeBrusk now? Why are they trying to convince fans Foligno deserves to be in the top six instead of the fourth line or even watching from the ninth floor?
I hope Foligno proves us all wrong and starts the season in a way that would result in Montgomery making some tough decisions come December or January when Marchand returns. If successful, it means Marchand can take his time getting stronger without having to rush back to the ice.
The depth of this team is pretty good on paper, but does that translate to chemistry on the ice? We have to hope it does because the Bruins not only need to be competitive to start the season, they need to produce and not get too far behind in the division while they way for Marchand, Hall, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelyck to get healthy.