By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins could have a different look for Tuesday’s Game 3 in Columbus, and with no look more unusual than a potential move that’d see David Pastrnak bumped down to third-line duty with Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson.
It’s a big change from Pastrnak’s normal spots throughout this postseason, be it with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the Black and Gold’s top line, or with David Krejci as the Bruins’ Discount Double-Czech on Jake DeBrusk’s opposite wing.
But it’s a look that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy could stick with tomorrow night in Columbus, too.
“[Pastrnak] played some with Johansson and Coyle the other night,” said Cassidy. “He has not practiced with them, I don’t think, ever. So if we’re gonna go down that road, it wouldn’t hurt to get him some reps. We’ll make that decision tomorrow.”
The potential move could be sparked by the fact that Pastrnak — well, his skate, anyway — scored a goal while skating with that duo in Saturday’s Game 2 double-overtime loss at TD Garden. Or that matchups against Columbus’ third line and defensive pairing could open up some offensive-zone space for Pastrnak, especially with Coyle’s strong possession game.
“You might see a little more line-rush play as a result of that than forecheck,” Cassidy said of a potential Johansson-Coyle-Pastrnak line in Game 3. “We really like Charlie’s puck possession in the O-zone, so Pasta’s gonna have to find his spots there. It’s just a matter of finding his spots, when Charlie likes to dish it. [Johansson] loves to make plays. To have a shooter over there should excite him.
“If that ends up a line, we’ll see.”
No matter where he slides in for the start of Game 3 at Nationwide Arena, the truth is that the Bruins need to get more out of Pastrnak. Really, they just need something from the ultra-talented 22-year-old, who was heavily managed in the third period and overtime frames of last Saturday’s Game 2, with just 11:20 of time on ice from the third period on in the losing effort (Pastrnak’s 7:13 at five-on-five over that stretch was the third-lowest total among all Boston forwards).
But clearly nothing’s out of the question when it comes to getting No. 88 on track.
“We’ve moved our wingers around anyway, so [Pastrnak] could end up with Bergy, Krech, or Coyle,” offered Cassidy.