Coming off a 5-1 win vs. the Colorado Avalanche Monday night, the Boston Bruins head West for a six-game road trip beginning Thursday against the Seattle Kraken. The Bruins will return Brad Marchand after facing a six-game suspension, his second of the season and eighth of his career.
The inaugural matchup against the Kraken took place on February 1st where the Bruins skated to a 3-2 win at TD Garden. Nearing the final stretch of the season, the Bruins strive to continue the momentum in hopes of grabbing critical points.
In Marchand’s absence, the Bruins went 3-2-1, which included a notable victory over the league-leading Avalanche. Bruce Cassidy will look to both welcome back and adapt to Marchand’s return as questions arise within the projected lineup.
The Bruins relied heavily on the top line of Taylor Hall, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak and the second line of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith. Both groups exemplified consistency in the stat column, thus Cassidy noted in a post-game interview that he hopes to keep Boston’s second line together moving forward.
“We’d like to keep that together. Someone is going to be probably a little bit unhappy, someone is going to have to move around,” said Cassidy. “It’s just the way it is. So, we’ll sort through that when we practice Wednesday in Seattle and put the best plan together as possible and see where it goes.”
The third line in both wins included Erik Haula, Jack Studnicka, and Nick Foligno along with the fourth line of Jake Debrusk, Tomas Nosek, and Curtis Lazar. Cassidy will have to move some pieces around to see what fits even if it means dissembling the first line. Considering the chemistry that was evident during a breakout stretch from Pastrnak last month, it is likely that Hall and Pastrnak stay together.
We may see Jake DeBrusk — two goals in the last two games — jump to the top line to play on his weak side with Bergeron and Marchand. Smith is another question mark and potential option as he played opposite Marchand on the Bergeron line prior to the suspension.
Despite questions surrounding the lineup for the upcoming road trip, Cassidy embraces the challenge and is excited to return a key piece of the team.
“We’ll welcome him back and then we’ll be better off for it,” Cassidy said. “We’ll be a better team to put a guy like him back in your lineup.”
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