Wednesday’s preseason finale at TD Garden will come with a full NHL lineup iced by the Boston Bruins, and unofficially serve as the team’s dress rehearsal before an Oct. 16 Opening Night meeting with the Dallas Stars.
Up front, the Bruins will roll with their usual superpower first line with Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and continue to look to build off the chemistry established by projected third line center Erik Haula and wingers Jake DeBrusk and Nick Foligno. The Bruins will even stick with their most-common fourth line this camp, with Tomas Nosek centering Trent Frederic on the left wing and Curtis Lazar at the right wing.
In fact, the only change up front will come with Charlie Coyle making his preseason debut as the team’s second-line center with Taylor Hall and Craig Smith on the wings. Coyle, who ditched a no-contact sweater last week, has been working towards this moment, and isn’t expecting to have any sort of limitations for tonight’s contest.
“I feel great,” Coyle said Tuesday. “You always can think back to, I wish I was healthy this summer so I could get more reps in and work on things more. But the main thing is being 100 percent ready for Game 1. I know that’s where I am and that’s where I’m gonna be when that time comes. That’s most important in my mind and that way I can feel confident in everything I do.”
Coyle has competition for his spot, of course, as the 22-year-old Jack Studnicka has arguably been the Black and Gold’s best forward since camp began, and has done what he can to force the Bruins into some difficult conversations.
Studnicka will be one of four healthy scratches up front, joined by Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, and Chris Wagner.
On the backend, the Bruins will stick with their most-common defensive pairings throughout camp, with Derek Forbort expected to skate with Charlie McAvoy on the Bruins’ top pairing while Mike Reilly and Brandon Carlo will make up the team’s second pairing and Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton skate together on the third pairing.
John Moore and Jakub Zboril will be the healthy scratches on the point.
And in net, the Bruins will give Linus Ullmark another start. The 28-year-old has been battling with Jeremy Swayman for the Opening Night starter title, and Ullmark will look to bounce back in a major way, as his .813 save percentage through two appearances is among the worst among all qualifying goaltenders in the 2021 preseason.
The Bruins enter tonight’s game with a 2-1-2 record this preseason.
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.