(Photo Credit: China Wong/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

The Boston Bruins are shaking things up, and Anthony Richard is getting rewarded. After being recalled from Providence earlier this month, the 27-year-old speedster has been a perfect fit for Boston’s bottom six. In eight games sporting the spoked-B this season, he’s posted 1-2-3 while providing a spark to a slumping Bruins roster.

In head coach Jim Montgomery’s latest edition of line swapping, Richard is slotted on the first line with Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle after previously playing a bottom-six role with Jesper Boqvist, Justin Brazeau, Morgan Geekie, and Trent Frederic, among others. The change comes after the Bruins blew a two-goal lead against the Vancouver Canucks in a search for a lift.

“It doesn’t change anything,” Richard told reporters this morning. “I talked to (Marchand) before practice, and they’re looking to bring more speed and tenacity on the forecheck on their line. So create some (offensive) zone time by forechecking harder and stuff like that. For me, they put me out there to bring that same energy and same mentality I was working on the third or fourth line.”

While Richard’s speed certainly stands out, he hasn’t been making impactful plays with just his legs. Scoring his first goal in a Bruins uniform in Boston’s 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Richard parked himself in an ample position out in front of the net, setting up an easy catch-and-shoot opportunity in the slot. He also showed off his finishing ability, roofing one over David Rittich’s shoulder to light the lamp.

That’s when Richard began to unlock his offensive potential, setting up Boqvist’s first-period score against the Dallas Stars in the next game. He was patient with the puck on his stick, feathering a seem pass right on the tape of Boqvist for the tap-in. Richard was poised, picking his head up and making a clever play instead of panicking with a defender closing the gap. This is the type of playmaking that translates to the first line.

In fact, Richard has already offered a sneak preview of what a connection with Coyle could look like. In need of a goal in last Friday’s clash with the Calgary Flames, Richard set up his new center with a stretch pass, flipping a puck off the side boards to find a streaking Coyle alone on a breakaway. Again, instead of making a rash decision in a high-pressure situation with possession of the puck, Richard utilized his creativity to make something out of nothing—and it couldn’t have come at a more clutch time.

In just a short sample, Richard has proven his NHL caliber. And with the Bruins back to their late-period woes, another line scramble feels warranted. With the trade deadline just weeks away, the Bruins are in an interesting situation. It’s evident they aren’t a Stanley Cup favorite like last year, but that’s not to say they don’t have postseason aspirations. While management decides what will best suit the franchise in the long run, a player like Richard elevating his game could be the difference between holding back at the deadline or bolstering the middle-six.