The Boston Bruins take on the Nashville Predators tonight at the TD Garden. With two important points on the line, the B’s have made a change on their blueline.
The Boston Bruins aren’t out of the woods. While they’re still holding on to the final wild card spot, they’ve got several teams nipping at their heels. Tampa Bay is just one point behind them. The Islanders, the Hurricanes, the Panthers, and the Flyers are all still close enough to steal the playoff spot from the Black and Gold.
When Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach, he began making tweaks to the forward lines. Some nights they worked. Other times they didn’t.
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To be honest, I don’t think this is a great move by Boston. Liles hasn’t played in over a month. The last time he was on the ice for Boston was February 26 in their game against the Dallas Stars. (The B’s won that game 6-3.) Now he’ll be expected to play top-four minutes.
“It’s not easy. It’s not fun,” said Liles about being out of the lineup for the last month. “Everyone wants to play and everybody in this room and in this league are competitors. You want to play each and every night.
“It can get long sometimes, but for me I just made sure that I was trying to stay on top of my game when I could and just work as hard as possible so that hopefully my conditioning stays up.”
It’s not that I don’t like Liles. I argued that he would bring stability to the blueline at the start of the season (something that he has done). But he’s going to be a little rusty, and the last thing the B’s need is rusty players being asked to dig deep with the playoffs on the line.
The Bruins want Colin Miller to get a ninth-level perspective for a game. Sometimes this is a helpful tool for a young player to get his back into the game. It can also sap a player’s confidence at just the worst possible time. Hopefully, this isn’t what happens here with the better of the Millers.
“Colin, going up to watch a game, I don’t think will hurt him,” said Cassidy of the roster move.
“He’s a young guy, got to be careful with his confidence. But obviously at this time of the year, we just feel like John’s a good fit tonight and see where it leads us….we’re generally happy with Colin’s play, we just want to kind of reset a little bit.”
The biggest thing that worries me is scoring. Colin Miller has shown that he (like Torey Krug) can easily move up and be the extra man on the rush. He’s also shown that he can score. Miller’s five goals are good enough for third among B’s defenceman. Liles is just one of three Bruins who haven’t found the net this year.
(When Jimmy Hayes has more goals than you, you have to wonder if you’ve got job security next season.)
Cassidy should have waited a game. He could have put Liles back in the line up against the Stars on Thursday. The Stars are out of a playoff position, and their goaltending has been hit-or-miss all season. There would have been a bigger margin for error allowed during that game.
Hopefully, this all works out and the Bruins widen their lead over the pack as they fight to stay in a playoff position.