Boston Bruins Lineup Changes Ahead of Vancouver Canucks Matinee

Jan 12, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Bruins Have Made Some Lineup Changes Ahead of Their Matinee Game Against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday in the Second Game of the Bruce Cassidy Era

After a successful first game, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is making changes to the lineup. The first change makes absolute sense as captain Zdeno Chara is slated to return. Following the firing of Claude Julien, Chara was missing from practice due to an illness. When speaking to media recently, Chara did mention that he was feeling better – a good indication that he’d be returning soon.

“I had a good practice with the team, and I’m feeling much better, obviously, than I did [on Thursday], or even two or three days ago,” Chara said after returning to practice following his bout with the illness. “It’s very unfortunate. These things come, and as much as you want to control them and be well and be playing and practicing, it’s something that is hard to explain – I just felt so fatigued and so out of it, that you probably would do more harm to yourself, and obviously, to the team, than good.”

With Chara back in the lineup, John-Michael Liles is set to be a healthy scratch. The Bruins 6-foot-9 captain has been a stabilizing force on the blueline this season. Despite being 39 years old, he’s still a legitimate top-four defenseman in the NHL and having him back in the lineup will certainly do the Bruins some good.

A Goaltending Change

The second change can be seen as both a positive and a potential negative. When in net this season, Anton Khudobin has struggled mightily. He’s seemingly fixed his woes while playing in Providence in the AHL, but his NHL play has left a lot to be desired. Still, it’s clear that Tuukka Rask needs some time to breathe and recoup. Not many goalies can handle being played as often as Rask has over the last few seasons, and getting him some well-deserved rest will only help him moving forward.

Related Story: Bruins are Burning Out Tuukka Rask

Khudobin is getting a chance to reclaim his position as the Bruins everyday backup goalie. Whether or not he’ll capitalize on that is left to be determined, but he could be a big factor in a Bruins’ playoff hunt this season. Having the confidence to either goalie on any night is key to success – especially if the team wants to keep Rask fresh. In his first game back, Khudobin will be set to take on a Canucks’ team that has lost three of four games since the All-Star break.

Peter Cehlarik Into the Lineup

The most interesting lineup change comes in the form of Peter Cehlarik. The 21-year-old leads the Providence Bruins in goals with 18 this season and could fit right into Cassidy’s new system. This is his first game in the NHL since signing with the Bruins, and he will slot right into a top-six role alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak right away. Matt Beleskey will be scratched after failing to record a point and logging just one shot on goal and a minus-1 rating in 12:46 of ice-time against the Sharks.

Related Story: Bruins Recall Peter Cehlarik

With Cehlarik’s size and offensive talent, he could benefit greatly from playing alongside two offensively gifted players in Krejci and Pastrnak. The Bruins showed a faster-paced game with a strong forecheck against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Despite the team playing in front of roughly 8,500 fans due to a blizzard in Boston, the team came to life under their new head coach. Though it’s a small sample size, Cehlarik looks like he could be a perfect fit for that type of system given the type of game that he plays.

Next: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Claude Julien

The Bruins are set to show why they deserve to make the playoffs in just the second game in the Bruce Cassidy-era. While he currently sits 1-0 as a head coach in Boston, the Bruins must win against the Canucks to show that Thursday wasn’t a fluke. The Canucks are a middle-of-the-pack team this season, and the Bruins have struggled against teams sitting outside of a playoff spot. The Canucks