Boston Bruins Lines and Pairings Against Ottawa Senators Game 1 of the 2017 NHL Playoffs
It’s playoff time. The Boston Bruins are set to take on the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night in their first playoff matchup in three seasons. It’s been a long road to the postseason, but the Bruins have finally clawed their way back.
Fans have waited – both patiently and impatiently, and the Bruins responded with a playoff spot this season. Getting back didn’t come without change, however. The Bruins fired head coach Claude Julien early this season, replacing him with Bruce Cassidy – prompting the Montreal Canadiens to hire Julien as their own head coach. Those changes, however, proved effective as the Bruins produced under Cassidy in a way they simply weren’t with Julien at the helm.
With a new interim head coach and some fresh faces in the lineup, it’s time to start looking at how the Bruins first playoff team in three years will look in game one of the postseason.
Lines and Pairings
When the Bruins took to practice Wednesday ahead of their first postseason game, the lines looked as follows:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Drew Stafford-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Riley Nash
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Matt Beleskey
Zdeno Chara-Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller-Charlie McAvoy
John-Michael Liles-Colin Miller
These lines will be updated as the days goes on should they be necessary. One thing that’s important to note, however, is the fact that Cassidy already made it known that McAvoy might not finish the game alongside Miller. He could finish the game alongside Chara, however, which is actually the last pairing the Bruins iced today in their practice.
Without Carlo and Krug in the lineup, the Bruins will be in unfamiliar territory. The signing of McAvoy will hopefully help in that sense, however, as the 19-year-old plays a very good two-way game. Still, he has yet to play an NHL game and will be tested early on while debuting in the postseason.
Update: David Krejci was a last second scratch with Sean Kuraly slotting in his place.
Brad Marchand Returns
After missing the final two games of the regular season, Brad Marchand is set to return. His presence in the Bruins lineup has been huge all season and it should continue to be in the playoffs. Returning to his usual spot alongside Patrice Bergeron, Marchand figures to be one of the catalysts of a potential Stanley Cup run for the Bruins this postseason.
Marchand finished the regular season with 39 goals and 85 points in 80 games – only missing the last two due to his suspension. With that level of consistency in addition to his elite defensive awareness and possession figures, Marchand has elevated himself to one of the best players in the NHL. The Bruins will need to lean on Marchand to play his game the right way if they want to make it out of the first round.
Forsbacka Karlsson Not in the Lineup
One noticeable absentee from the lineup is Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. The 20-year-old center played in one game in the regular season after signing his entry-level contract. With Brad Marchand back in the lineup, however, Forsbacka Karlsson looks set to take a seat in the press box for his first postseason experience.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. Forsbacka Karlsson didn’t play poorly in his first game. He also didn’t stand out. For a first game, it was general average – something that shouldn’t be seen as bad. Centering the Bruin’s third line in a game against the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals, Forsbacka Karlsson didn’t make any glaring mistakes. He didn’t stand out in a negative way and got his feet wet to start his NHL career.
As the playoffs progress, the young center could find his way back into the lineup. Already an NHL-ready forward, the Bruins could look to slot him back in sooner than later should another player struggle early on in the postseason. At the same time, Forsbacka Karlsson could find himself sitting in the press box for the majority of the playoffs. At 20 years old, that wouldn’t be the end of the world given the fact that he’s only seen 8:25 of NHL action in his career. Learning doesn’t only happen on the ice – sometimes it happens while watching the game with Bruins staff in the press box.