By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Even after scoring four goals in a comeback win over the Flyers on Thursday night, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will shake up the left side of his bottom six for tonight’s rematch at TD Garden.
For the B’s, that’ll mean a promotion for Trent Frederic to the third line with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith, while Anders Bjork will move down to the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. Bjork, of course, was benched for the end of Thursday’s win, while Frederic has carved out a solid start for himself as an energizing nuisance.
“The message to [Frederic] was don’t change what you were doing: be hard on the pucks, be in people’s faces, get to the front of the net,” Cassidy said of Frederic’s promotion. “Again, we’re gonna work with Freddy. A lot of learning curves.”
Averaging 11:20 through the first four games of the season, the 6-foot-2 will move to Coyle’s left after recording four hits and three shots on goal over that four-game run. Frederic’s move will seemingly give that line its original identity, too, as camp began with Nick Ritchie (since promoted to the second line) serving as that line’s big-bodied, net-front presence there to finish off the possession and grind-them-down work of Coyle and Smith.
Bjork’s demotion will reunite him with his original camp linemates as well, which could provide an extra jump in his step.
But the Bruins are obviously approaching a critical time with Bjork here, as he’s been a near non-factor through four games this year, with just one shot on goal (and none over his last three contests), and with Cassidy noting that he needs to find his identity for a team with bodies on the way.
“He’s got to find his identity [and] where he can best help the team and play to his strengths as much as possible within the framework,” Cassidy offered. “He’s not new to the league, he’s been around. So a little falls on the player to carve out his identity and the players that do tend to find themselves in a spot, so it’s a shared responsibility between us and the player.”
On the backend, Matt Grzelcyk will take a seat due to a lower-body injury suffered in Thursday’s win over the Flyers. The initial belief was that Grzelcyk, who was given Friday off as a “maintenance day,” would be good to go, but with the 27-year-old unavailable, Connor Clifton will slide into the mix and play his off-side opposite Brandon Carlo on Boston’s second pair.
The 5-foot-11 Clifton recorded two goals and 90 hits in an injury-derailed 31-game 2019-20 campaign, but finished strong with a goal and two helpers during an eight-appearance postseason run in the Toronto bubble.
Jaroslav Halak gets the start in the Boston net.
Halak took an overtime loss behind a 29-of-31 performance against the Devils last Saturday. Halak went 0-0-2 and surrendered seven goals on 68 shots faced in his two starts against the Flyers last season, and comes into play with a 10-6-3 record and .914 save percentage in 19 career games against Philadelphia.
The Flyers will counter with Carter Hart for the second straight game.
The 22-year-old Hart stopped the first 18 shots thrown his way in Thursday’s start against the Bruins, but allowed four goals in the third period, and took the shootout loss behind a 39-of-43 performance.
Philadelphia also recalled Samuel Morin from their taxi squad ahead of this contest.
Here’s the full expected lines and pairings for the B’s…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Jack Studnicka
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Anders Bjork – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Jeremy Lauzon – Charlie McAvoy
Connor Clifton – Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril – Kevan Miller