By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Three months after their Game 7 loss on TD Garden ice, the Boston Bruins will officially get back to work tonight, as they'll begin their preseason slate with a road head-to-head against the New Jersey Devils.
But the Bruins aren't exactly bringing a Cup-level lineup to Newark, with tonight's lineup featuring some of the Black and Gold's younger talents and prospects looking to potentially push their way into an NHL role this season.
Based on the lines at the team's morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, the Bruins will take the ice for this one with a top line featuring top prospect Jack Studnicka between Paul Carey and Brett Ritchie. That could be a potentially interesting line to watch, actually, as the big-bodied Ritchie could wind up being Studnicka's winger should the Bruins tinker with the idea of making Charlie Coyle a right winger, opening up that third-line center spot for the 20-year-old Studnicka.
Personally, I'm still not sure that Studnicka will jump right to the NHL, as the Bruins have become extremely aware of Patrice Bergeron's chronic groin injury and the idea of managing his workload by having Coyle at center would certainly allow them to reel back on some of the harder minutes No. 37 logs in the regular season. But this will be the first step in seeing what Studnicka (seven points in nine AHL games and a tremendous OHL career between Oshawa and Niagara) can do for the B's if given an opportunity to skate with and against professionals.
Boston's second line will feature some of the club's bottom-six depth, as free agent addition Par Lindholm will center a line featuring bangers Anton Blidh and Chris Wagner on the wings. Lindholm comes to the Bruins after posting one goal, 13 points, and 58 hits in 65 games between the Maple Leafs and Jets last year. Wagner, meanwhile, is looking to build off what was a career year in 2018-19, with career-best marks in goals (12), points (19), and shots (135). This will be his first game since suffering a broken wrist in Game 3 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
The Black and Gold's third line could be exactly what those down in Providence see out of the gate this season, with Ryan Fitzergald and Oskar Steen on a line with center Trent Frederic. Steen is a name to watch here, really. A pro in the Swedish League last year, the 21-year-old Steen posted 17 goals and 37 points in 46 games, and is capable of playing center and wing. If everything goes to plan, the 5-foot-9 Steen could be a sneaky call-up pick for the B's this season if they find themselves in need of some new (read as: not Anders Bjork or Peter Cehlarik) middle-six pop.
Boston's fourth line will have blazing speed, too, with Jakub Lauko and Zach Senyshyn on Brendan Gaunce's wings.
On the backend, the left side is the one to watch, with a pair of first-round picks (Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril) on the B's top four. Both appeared in a pair of NHL games last year. This feels like a hugely important camp for Zboril, the No. 13 overall pick from the 2015 NHL Draft, to show that he can keep pace in the NHL game.
The Bruins will have Kyle Keyser and Daniel Vladar in net.
The Devils, meanwhile, will dress a lineup featuring a ton of new facts. Nikita Gusev, acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights in the summer, will skate to the left of 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes on New Jersey's top line. And it will be old friend P.K. Subban, traded from Nashville to Jersey, who anchors the Devil defense. (Free agent addition Wayne Simmonds was also expected to play in this game, but he has since been scratched from the lineup.)
Marblehead, Mass. native Cory Schneider will get the start in net for the Devils.
Here are the complete lines and pairings for the Bruins...
Paul Carey - Jack Studnicka - Brett Ritchie
Anton Blidh - Par Lindholm - Chris Wagner
Ryan Fitzgerald - Trent Frederic - Oskar Steen
Jakub Lauko - Brendan Gaunce - Zach Senyshyn
Urho Vaakanainen - Alex Petrovic
Jakub Zboril - Steven Kampfer
Chris Breen - Axel Andersson