Boston Bruins: Why Charlie Coyle needs to stay as the third-line center

Amid forced changes because of the injures, the Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy decided to shuffle his offensive lines a little bit, moving Charlie Coyle from center in the process.

In fact, he moved Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins’ second-line, albeit in the right-wing position for the first time in the season. It begs the question; where is the best spot to use Charlie Coyle?

On the third line as a center or as an answer to the Bruins ever-present second-line right-wing issues? Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy chose to use Coyle as the latter option for the first time this season. It hasn’t paid immediate dividends.

David Krejci centered the newly-formed (once again!) second line with Coyle and Danton Heinen. Functionally, Coyle’s connection with Heinen has been pretty effective during Coyle’s short tenure in a Boston Bruins uniform. The apparent easy switch for them to complement Krejci’s centering duties is not working.

No one is going to blame Cassidy for trying it. You can sense the desperation on the behalf of the Bruins coaching staff when the second-line production topic comes to the table.

On Tuesday night in Montreal, Coyle’s combination with Zach Senyshyn and Anders Bjork was the best out there on the ice for the Bruins. Senyshyn contributed with two assists, Bjork scored a goal, and Coyle almost got on the scoresheet. In Detroit, that line hasn’t been as noticeable anymore, but it’s been only two games since those three were playing together.

And that’s a reason to split them? With Brett Ritchie injured, the Boston Bruins had the opportunity to slot back into the lineup both injured Swedes, Par Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom.

Where to slot the centerman Lindholm? When you don’t want to touch the third line, you have to play him on the second-line right-wing position. That doesn’t appear like the best idea.

Bruce Cassidy has limited options, so he used Coyle there alongside Krejci. He expected answers, and he received one. Keep Charlie Coyle off the wing duties. Instead, store him on the third line. On Sunday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, the least-impressive line combination for the Boston Bruins was a newly-constructed line with Lindholm centering Bjork and Senyshyn.

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Seemingly, it resulted in Bjork’s most ineffective game of the season, similar to Senyshyn. These three played 6:58 of the ice-time together versus Philadelphia. Their xGF% speaks for itself – 33.56. That was the worst number throughout the Bruins lineup.

Coyle made a nice play to Heinen on the first Bruins goal of the night, picking up his fourth assist of the campaign. That line with him, Krejci and Heinen did nothing wrong in particular, their xGF% was at 64.72, the Bruins’ best rating by that measure.

Nevertheless, it was the no-show from the Bruins’ third line on the ice on Sunday proving to be the big issue.

Next: Gearing for another trade with the Minnesota Wild?

Employing Charlie Coyle as the second-line right-wing stance messes too much with the third line, and therefore the Boston Bruins overall line-up. For the good of improving Senyshyn and Bjork, they need Coyle to be their center.

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