The Bruins will get a significant boost to their lineup Thursday night, as Craig Smith will officially make his return to the Boston lineup and to the club’s second line with Taylor Hall and David Krejci.
Injured on a hit from the Isles’ Cal Clutterbuck in the second period of Game 1, Smith missed the final period of Game 1 and was held out of Game 2 with a lower-body injury before returning to practice Wednesday.
The Bruins will hope that Smith’s jump back into action comes with the success it did against the Islanders both in Game 1 and after the trade deadline, as the Hall-Krejci-Smith line has outshot New York 29-10, out-chanced them 26-9 (11-1 in high-danger chances), and outscored ’em 1-0 in 37 total minutes over four games since Hall’s addition.
The 31-year-old Smith has one goal and three points in six games this postseason, and has been among Boston’s most productive five-on-five generators, with 6.33 individual high-danger chances per 60 minutes, which is second only to David Pastrnak’s team-leading 7.37 high-danger chances per 60.
With Smith back, Jake DeBrusk will slide back down to the third line with Nick Ritchie and Charlie Coyle, while Karson Kuhlman will return to the press box as a healthy scratch.
On the backend, the Bruins will stick with the same six defenders, as Bruce Cassidy gave Jeremy Lauzon a vote of confidence despite an undeniably rough Game 2 outing.
“[Lauzon] still has to make the plays that are in front of him, and he’s going to be like everybody else on our team, he’s going to make some good news and other ones that could’ve been better,” Cassidy offered. “We’ll keep him encouraging him, working with him. He’s a great kid, he’ll be in there [Thursday] night, and hopefully helps us win.”
The Bruins are 2-1 on the road this postseason.
Here’s the complete lineup for tonight’s Game 3 on Long Island…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Jake DeBrusk
Sean Kuraly – Curtis Lazar – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly – Brandon Carlo
Jeremy Lauzon – 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.