Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: Mike Reilly #6 of the Boston Bruins skates during the first period of a game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on April 13, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said changes would be coming to his lineup following a flat-looking 6-4 loss to the Maple Leafs, and man, he wasn’t playing around.

With the Devils in town for a TD Garden showdown with the Bruins, Cassidy has confirmed that he will make four (four!) changes to the Black and Gold’s lineup for tonight’s tilt.

The biggest change will come on the backend, with Mike Reilly and trade deadline addition Josh Brown slated to skate together on Boston’s third pairing in place of Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton. Reilly’s return to action will mark the end of his three-game stretch as a healthy scratch, while this will be the 6-foot-5 Brown’s debut with the Bruins.

“They’ve been practicing together,” Cassidy said of the decision to go with a Reilly-Brown pairing. “I think that helps a little bit, so [we’ll] keep them as a pair and we’ll sort through as we go [and] how it breaks out after that.”

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It sounds like Forbort’s off night comes with Forbort catching a stray with the Bruins’ decision to give Clifton a seat after a rough night against the Leafs and the Bruins not wanting to mix their third and fourth pairings up. Clifton’s Tuesday night showing was certainly brutal, too, with a first-period turnover that opened the scoring for Toronto and a 14:03 night that saw him on the ice for three goals against.

“Cliffy had a tough night the other night, but they’ve been good for a while,” Cassidy offered. “Good stretch, good solid, consistent, played-within-themselves hockey.”

Up front, the Bruins will plug Anton Blidh back in on the left side of their fourth line with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar in place of Nick Foligno. The switch there comes with the veteran Foligno dealing with a lower-body injury, according to Cassidy, but Foligno is expected to be good to go for Saturday night’s showdown with the Blue Jackets.

Blidh, who has not played since Mar. 16, has totaled two goals, nine points, and 73 hits in 29 games this season.

And on Boston’s third line, ex-Boston College captain and Billerica, Mass. native Marc McLaughlin will make his NHL debut in place of the under-the-weather Craig Smith. The 22-year-old McLaughlin scored 21 goals and 31 points in 33 games with the Eagles this past season.

“We’ve asked [McLaughlin] to just play his game,” Cassidy noted. “He had success in college for a reason. Stick with that and see how he kind of develops chemistry with his linemates and how his own individual game goes.”

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  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) picks up a hat after scoring a hat trick during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    David Pastrnak keeps Boston’s hat business booming

    The North Station pro shop will never have to worry about their hat sales so long as No. 88 is in town.

    On the board with his 12th career hat trick Thursday night, Pastrnak now sits in a tie with Johnny Bucyk for the third-most hat tricks in franchise history. Only Cam Neely (14) and Phil Esposito (26) have more. Given his scoring pace in recent seasons, Pastrnak could in theory make a push to challenge Esposito’s record so long as he spends his entire career with the Bruins. That’s just a ridiculous thing to say given Espo’s numbers with the Bruins.

    Oh, the three-goal effort also gives Pastrnak an NHL-leading 28 goals in 38 games since January 1.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Erik Haula (56) controls the puck in front of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the first period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Erik Haula continues post-deadline surge for Bruins

    The Bruins did not make an upgrade to the middle of their second line by this past Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

    But that hasn’t stopped second-line center Erik Haula from playing like an upgrade, with five assists in two games since Monday’s deadline passed without an external addition to Boston’s center depth. This, of course, after going the previous six games with zero points and a minus-4 rating, along with a few in-game demotions.

    “When Erik is skating, he is at his most effective,” Cassidy said after the Black and Gold’s 40th victory of the season. “And between those guys [on the second line], you have to skate to keep up. But you also have to skate to reload if plays don’t work out, and he’s kind of bought into that. The last goal is a great example. He is working his way out of the zone knowing that there’s a rush maybe coming back. He stops on a puck and now we’re on offense again.”

    And for all the talk of the defensive competition, is Haula perhaps feeling an uptick in his own competitive fire with Jack Studnicka back in the NHL mix and actually looking pretty decent this time around as a more complete player?

    “Listen, guys go through stretches where they’re feeling it, and he’s feeling it right now,” said Cassidy.

    All competition is good competition for these Bruins.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (71) collides with Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) during the second period at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    Now presenting, the worst penalty you’ll see in 2022…

    I’m gonna need the biggest brain in the world to figure out how this was a tripping penalty on Jeremy Swayman.

    Hey, quick shoutout to Swayman for smiling and laughing about the call. I think I’d go full ’09 Providence Tuukka.

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; The Boston Bruins celebrate their win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

    The Junk Drawer

    • Thursday’s win, by the way, has given the Bruins back-to-back victories against Tampa Bay. If it feels like it’s been a long-ass time since that’s happened, you’re not wrong. In fact, the last time the Bruins have a win streak of any sort against the Bolts was all the way back in 2017-18, when they carried a four-game win streak over Tampa Bay. With the win, the Bruins also jumped over the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic.

    • Defenseman Mike Reilly sat this game out of as a healthy scratch for the Bruins. The Bruins have said that if Reilly does play with Derek Forbort, it will be on the right side. And with Connor Clifton deployed for a defense-low 12:00 of time on ice, I don’t think we’re going to have to wait long to see that.

    • Weird stat: Blackhawk-turned-Lightning forward Brandon Hagel has been the scorer on three of the 12 goals given up by Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman over his last five starts.

    • Tremendous atmosphere at the Garden for this game. As someone who had tickets to the Drug Church show at Sonia, this decision went down to the wire, but gotta say, I think I chose correctly. It’s also my job, and I figured I ruin the lives of both Alex and Matt enough as is, so there’s that tricky little detail. (That said, check out their new album ‘Hygiene’ if you’re into post-hardcore and things of that nature. Can’t recommend it enough.)

    • Random Lightning player: Evgeny Artyukhin. Remember this dude? He was like 6-foot-5 and impossible to miss on some horrendous Tampa Bay teams. Bounced to Anaheim and Atlanta after his Lightning days.

    • Joe Haggerty was not wearing a Vegas Golden Knights facemask, but respect to David Pastrnak interrupting his question to ask if it was. It was a Mandalorian mask. “I’ve seen it all from you, Haggs,” Pastrnak said.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for He has been covering the Bruins since 2010, and has been a member of the Boston chapter of the PHWA since 2013. 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.

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