By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Sharing his spot on the right side of the Bruins' second line with Joakim Nordstrom on Wednesday, Bruins rookie Ryan Donato could very well find himself as the odd man out Thursday night when the Edmonton Oilers come to TD Garden.
"Until we get ourselves firmly where we believe it's lines one through four, we're going to probably move people around and keep it competitive, so to speak" B's coach Bruce Cassidy offered after Wednesday's skate. "Pretty good chance [Nordstrom] will go in. If he has to play on that line that's fine, he's been in skill positions in the past. He'll add a good responsible player there."
Nordstrom's reinsertion back into the Boston lineup doesn't necessarily guarantee that it's Donato that comes out, but Cassidy has made it clear that he's "hands off" when it comes to his first line, wants to see more of a Heinen-Backes-Bjork third line, and that he enjoyed the effort put forth by the Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari line. All of that, in addition to the split at RW-2 through Wednesday's practice, would indicate that Donato is next in line to take a seat, Cassidy confirmed.
"It may be Ryan that comes out," Cassidy acknowledged. "Part of that is just understanding the details of the game every night.
"We've done that with every young player last year, so that would be no different."
Despite admitting the fact that the 26-year-old Nordstrom is a fourth-line guy, too, Cassidy believes that Nordstrom could prove to be a solid fill-in somewhere near the top of Boston's lineup, if only just for a couple nights.
"I think [Nordstrom] has the ability to move up," Cassidy said. "Said in the past in Carolina he had a good year with [Jordan] Staal [in 2015-16], If that's what we decide to do for a game or two, it's as much about keeping those guys competitive and letting other guys know it's not automatic every night that they're gonna be in."
Nordstrom, who signed with the Bruins after scoring just two goals in 97 shots last season, appeared in the B's first two games of the season, totaling three shots with two hits and a blocked shot in 28:45 of total time on ice. Donato, meanwhile, has one goal in three games this season, but was on the ice for two of Ottawa's three goals in a 6-3 home opener victory on Monday.
"There's certain guys we've discussed that are automatics [to play on a nightly basis], and some that aren't," Cassidy, who's limited Donato to under 13 minutes in two of three games this season, said. "And we're still sorting through that."
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.