By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The second round will come with some changes up front for the Bruins, with Anders Bjork and Nick Ritchie, the team’s third line wings to begin the 2020 postseason, back in action for Sunday’s Game 1 against the Lightning.
“They’ll play as a line tonight,” Cassidy said of Bjork and Ritchie, who will skate on either side of Charlie Coyle. “We’ll see how they do.”
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Ritchie will make his return to action after sitting out the final three games (all wins) of Boston’s first-round series against the Hurricanes as a scratch. The Bruins will simply need more out of Ritchie, who was given the second-most offensive zone faceoffs among Boston forwards but failed to land a shot on goal through the first two games of the postseason, this time around. And this is a series that should bring the best out of his game.
“Ritchie, we expect to be a little better on the walls. He’s obviously, with active D for Tampa, as much in the o-zone as anywhere, he has to be aware in his coverage in D zone,” Cassidy said of the team’s trade deadline addition. “Getting inside, Charlie [Coyle] is a good puck protection guy, can separate. Hopefully, Nick can learn to find those soft spots in the O-zone, preferably around the net. Sometimes you can’t always just park yourself in the crease if plays die, then you’re the last guy out of the zone. But, slot, net front.”
Bjork, meanwhile, will return to play after missing Game 5 as a healthy scratch. Unable to hack it as David Pastrnak’s fill-in on Boston’s top line, Bjork will be tasked with playing his brand of hockey that includes creating strong looks with an aggressive pursuit that can often force the opposition into a penalty or bad decision that creates an odd-man rush.
“With Anders, it’s capitalizing on some opportunities, obviously he’s had a few,” said Cassidy. “Just a consistent game. Hound pucks. Be a good complimentary player for those guys off the rush. He can certainly get inside ice on his off wing. And obviously, defensively like everyone on our team, be accountable and block a shot when it’s your turn to block a shot. Get the clear when it’s your turn to get the clear. Skate it out when the opportunity is there.”
With Bjork and Ritchie back, Par Lindholm and Jack Studnicka will move to the press box as the B’s healthy scratches.
That will move Sean Kuraly back down to the middle of Boston’s fourth line with Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner.
The Bruins will not make any changes on their backend, with Connor Clifton expected to remain in for Jeremy Lauzon, and will Jaroslav Halak expected to get the start in the Boston net.
Here’s the complete expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
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 – Connor Clifton
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.