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Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Nov 29, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) reacts after scoring a goal during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Rest outweighs any practice this time of year.

Especially with the Presidents’ Trophy clinched, and especially especially following a stretch that included 15 games in 25 days. But a return to the ice Wednesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena came with a major addition for the Bruins, as Taylor Hall skated to the left of Charlie Coyle on Boston’s third line.

  • On the shelf for the last 19 games after suffering a lower-body injury in the team’s Feb. 25 win over the Canucks, Hall’s return to a full practice with his teammates also came with Hall in a regular jersey opposed one of the non-contact variety.

    That’s huuuuuge news for the Bruins, and essentially serves as confirmation that Hall’s return to action should (and almost certainly) will come before the end of the regular season.

    ‘There’s still some steps and some conversations that I have to have before I’m fully playing and [we’ll] probably know that by tomorrow morning [in regards to] when I’m going to play or if it’s tomorrow or whatever,” Hall said. “But [I’m] just taking it step by step [with] the process with the organization and the medical staff and just everyone.

    “There’s just more conversations that I have to have.”

  • Feb 25, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN;  Boston Bruins forward Taylor Hall (71) skates between play the Vancouver Canucks during the third period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 25, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Taylor Hall (71) skates between play the Vancouver Canucks during the third period at Rogers Arena. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports)

  • The fact that tomorrow night against the Maple Leafs is even a possibility is a positive given the original diagnosis and timelines floated about in the wake of Hall’s injury. But when it came to Thursday night, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery didn’t sound ready to go down that road just yet.

    “I don’t know about [Hall playing] tomorrow, to be honest,” Montgomery said. “I’m not going to say for sure he’s not [playing], but it’s leaning that way. But he’s starting to check all the boxes. We’re starting to get him into game rhythm again through practice. and we’re going to be able to practice today and Friday.

    “I think he’s doubtful for [Thursday], to be honest, but I’m not going to completely rule him out. He’s getting closer.”

  • Nov 6, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Taylor Hall (71) deflects the puck past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell (36) for a goal in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 6, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Taylor Hall (71) deflects the puck past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell (36) for a goal in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

  • The Bruins’ plans call for Hall to get in a regular-season game if they can.

    When that does happen, it’ll put Hall to the left of Coyle (his usual center this season), and with trade deadline addition Tyler Bertuzzi shifting from the left wing to the right wing.

    Bertuzzi, while a left shot, has played on the right side at various points throughout his NHL career.

    Obviously, it’s a trio that’s yet to play together, as the Bruins added Bertuzzi to the fold in the wake of Hall’s injury.

    “That’d be ideal, yeah.” Montgomery said of getting that line some in-season reps. “Get ’em up and running. I mean, we’re very lucky with the depth we have and we’re also very lucky that it looks like Hall’s going to be a real option for us. And we’re also hoping that [Nick] Foligno and [Derek] Forbort are going to be, so then all of our — knock on wood — options will be at our disposal come playoff time.”

  • Mar 23, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) scores a goal during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 23, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) scores a goal during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. (Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Together for over 105 minutes of five-on-five action since the trade deadline, the Coyle-Bertuzzi duo has an on-ice shots edge of 61-42, an on-ice scoring edge advantage of 63-31, and the Bruins have outscored opponents 4-2 with this tandem out there.

    The Bruins have also seen and grown to greatly appreciate Bertuzzi’s on-ice vision, and his ability to thread passes into high-danger areas in the attacking zone.

    “I think Tyler’s been a really good addition to our team,” Hall said. “He sees the ice really well. I didn’t quite know what type of player he was before he got here, but he makes plays, he keeps plays alive all over the ice. And if that’s who I’m playing with whenever I’m back, that’s a really good guy to inject on that line.”

    “We think it’s going to be really good because you got three players with really good hockey sense with all different toolsets,” Montgomery said of Hall and Bertuzzi riding on Coyle’s wings. “I imagine it’s going to be good.”

  • Mar 23, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) possesses the puck during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 23, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) possesses the puck during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. (Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

  • One interesting wrinkle about that line is that all three players tend to be more effective as distributors than pure scorers. Or, at the very least, tend to have a pass-first mindset. That can’t stick if they’re together.

    “Everyone has a good hockey sense and I think everyone’s going to have to be a little more shot-first,” Montgomery said of his likely third line come round one. “There is no true shot-first player on the line, but if they can wear people down below the tops of the circles, and with Hall there being able to make plays off the rush because he can beat people not only one on one, but [also] blow people around people wide.”

    An interesting note on that front: Bertuzzi is averaging 9.15 shots per 60 of five-on-five action, which is fourth-most on the team among players with at least 100 minutes of five-on-five play. Coyle is at 6.25 shots per 60, which is seventh among that group. Hall, prior to his injury, ranked fourth on the team in five-on-five shots per 60, at 8.55.

    In essence, the recipe to be more of a ‘shot-first’ line is there, and it’s all about execution.

    “They just all gotta be shot ready,” Montgomery said. “That’s the only thing that would prevent them from being a fairly dominant line.”

    A fairly dominant third line for the Bruins, no less.

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