(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP)

By Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter @adbblue

The Boston Bruins will start their 2023-24 campaign for their centennial season tonight. They will host the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden, and the highly touted first-overall pick Connor Bedard will be front and center. Old friends Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno will also be back in town after being traded to Chicago during the offseason.

A lot of things will be different for the Bruins this season, most noticeably the roster, so it will be interesting to see how things look to begin the year. There will be plenty of things to pay attention to, so here are some things to look out for during the Bruins season opener.  

Line Combinations

There is already a pretty good sense of who will be in the lineup, but it will be interesting to see the line combinations. During recent practices, Jim Montgomery’s top six forwards and today’s morning skate have been Pavel Zacha at center with James Van Riemsdyk on the left and David Pastrnak on the right. The second line is Charlie Coyle at center, with Brad Marchand on the left and Jake DeBrusk on the right. 

That’s not a terrible top six on paper, and we’ll see if Montgomery shakes things up by the end of the night, as we saw him do at times last season. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Matt Poitras, the 19-year-old center who put on a show during the preseason, get bumped up. The 2022 second-round pick played with Brad Marchand during two of the Bruin’s preseason games. Poitras centered the third line during the morning skate with Trent Frederic on his left and Morgan Geekie on his right, but he could get a few looks with Marchand and DeBrusk tonight. 

John Beecher looks to make his debut in the fourth-line center role and has been skating with Milan Lucic on his left and Jakub Lauko on his right. We’ll see if Beecher gets bumped up a few times, as the 2019 first-round pick showed some explosive speed during the preseason. Mixing and matching is certainly likely as the Bruins coaching staff will look to find out who goes best with whom in game one. 


With losing Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement, look for the power play to seem a bit different. Without Bergeron, the bumper option has seemed to have been phased out a bit, and we saw a lot more of a lateral scheme on the man advantage during the preseason. At today’s morning skate, the first unit comprised Marchand, Zacha, Pastrnak, McAvoy, and Van Riemsdyk. Unit two, Poitras, DeBrusk, Geekie, Lindholm, and Shattenkirk. 

Montgomery is again going with four forwards and one defenseman on the first unit to try and maximize their opportunities. He could switch things around as the game progresses, but overall, he has solid personnel groupings on both units. Shattenkirk and Lindholm are both great power-play quarterbacks, so expect some good umbrella puck movement out of them. Furthermore, look for Van Riemsdyk to be a large net-front presence, as that has been the big forward’s bread and butter throughout his career. 

Jake DeBrusk

Jake DeBrusk is entering a contract year, and it seems apparent that his camp and the Bruins are working on an extension. But with that situation still up in the air, look for DeBrusk to be shot out of a cannon fresh out of the gate. DeBrusk had the best season of his career last year, even missing 18 games with a broken foot. Expect the Bruins winger to build on that and take the next step to earn his first lengthy, high-number contract. 

Even if he doesn’t appear on the score sheet right off the bat, DeBrusk has proven he can impact the game in numerous ways. His puck pursuit and retrieval are among the best on the team, and winning loose pucks and getting possession is such an important factor. The former first-round pick has also improved significantly on his defensive game and has become one of the team’s strongest penalty-killers. DeBrusk taking that next step would be a huge plus for both him and the Bruins. 

There are plenty more things to look out for in tonight’s season opener, but these three will be at the top of the list. The Bruins look to get the ball rolling in the right direction to kick off their Centennial season, starting tonight at 7:30 pm on TNT.