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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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.