By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins’ plan was to sticking with what was a winning formula on Wednesday, with Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledging that he did not plan on making any lineup changes for Game 2 against the Hurricanes.
“We will put the same lineup on the ice,” Cassidy said during his Thursday afternoon media availability. “If not, obviously we’ll have to make that decision. That’s what we’re looking at right now. We had an optional skate this morning, so there were some guys that didn’t go on the ice that will take warmup and we’ll go from there.”
…And then came an ‘unfit to participate’ designation for David Pastrnak.
With Pastrnak out, Karson Kuhlman is the likely player to draw into action for Boston. The 24-year-old had five hits and five shots on goal in two appearances in the round-robin tournament, and scored one goal and six points in 25 appearances with the Bruins during the regular season.
Whether or not Kuhlman moves into Pastrnak’s spot remains to be seen. The Bruins did have Anders Bjork skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for the majority of Boston’s Phase 3 training camp, which came and went without No. 88 on the ice in all but one skate, so that remains an intriguing option for the Bruins as well.
But no matter who moves into that spot, it will put extra pressure on the second and third lines to deliver. It’s hard to imagine the Bruins touching the second line after their Game 1 performance, and Cassidy talked about Ritchie’s impact on a third line with Charlie Coyle and Bjork (should he remain there).
“He had some good hits. He finished Edmundson hard, obviously shook him up. Both teams in any series are looking for a little bit of the physical part so that there is the attrition factor. Time will tell on that. He got to the front of the net a lot. We asked him to do that,” said Cassidy. “The way Carolina D are active, you have to be careful; ‘OK where am I in front? Am I in a good position to recover? If there is a turnover or uncertainty on puck possession, so I won’t get beat up ice or do we have clear possession, I can take away the goalie’s eyes and get right on top of the crease.’ Those are some discussions we’ll have with him.
Game 1 felt like a bit of a mixed bag for Ritchie, too, as he provided some jam on Coyle’s goal and finished with four hits, but failed to land a shot on goal (on two attempts), and looked out of sorts on two sequences that led to Carolina goals.
But it’s not nearly enough to warrant removing him from this lineup.
“We’ll allow [Ritchie] to grow,” said Cassidy. “Unless we feel, like I said, if there is a better option for us, a quicker option, a guy that has different attributes, we’ll use him.”
In net, the Bruins will stick with Tuukka Rask despite this being Rask’s second game in as many days.
“He felt fine [after Game 1],” Cassidy, who has started Rask on consecutive just once in his three-plus years on the job, acknowledged. “Was there a lot of wear and tear to the point where recovery would require more than 24 hours or 30 hours. I don’t think so.
“It was pretty clean in front of him, not a lot of stretches where – demanding stretches. Still, it was four periods of hockey, he had to be ready on his toes the whole game. And then, yes, the timing of the two games. And as I said, back-to-back decisions are a lot to do with travel, short night sleep. We didn’t have any of those factors. We went to the rink and back here to the hotel. So obviously there’s no travel and like I said, you get a full night’s sleep. That had a lot to do with it.”
Since 2015, Rask is 3-11-2 with a .907 save percentage when playing on zero days rest.
Here are the complete expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Karson Kuhlman
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Jeremy Lauzon
Game 2 can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub, with Bob Beers and Judd Sirott on the call.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.