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What would a healthy lineup look like?

December 5, 2018, 9:50 AM ET [17 Comments]
Anthony Travalgia
Boston Bruins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Tuesday’s 5-0 loss to the Florida Panthers was the Bruins ugliest since being embarrassed by the Capitals on opening night.

The Bruins were completely lost Tuesday night, a game where nothing went right for them. As Bruce Cassidy put it, it was “men against boys.”

With all the injuries the Bruins have faced through the first two months of the season, they’ve done a great job finding ways to pick up points and staying in the mix of a tight Atlantic division race.

Instead of harping on what was a disaster of a hockey game, lets instead take a stab at what a Bruins lineup may look like if they ever get healthy

Full health, if only…

First Line:

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak

Let’s state the obvious here: Marchand, Pastrnak and the rest of the Bruins miss Bergeron.

With Bergeron in the lineup, the team had trouble scoring goals, especially five-on-five. That hasn’t changed much with the future Hall-Of-Famer out of the lineup. You can never replace a guy like Bergeron, but in his absence, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Colby Cave and David Krejci have all gotten looks on the top line. All three have done some good things at different times, but not have come close to matching what Bergeron brings to the line.

With Bergeron centering the Bruins top two goal scorers, the B’s feature one of the game’s best lines.

Second line:

Danton Heinen-David Krejci-Jake DeBrusk

Secondary scoring has been a massive issue for the Bruins, both with and without Bergeron in the lineup. I like this second line. Even though this has been the second trio of late, and they’ve yet to tear things up, I think this is the best the Bruins have to offer on the second line.

Jake DeBrusk is still going to score 30 goals, —don’t @ me—and Krejci is going to continue to make plays happen. However, the key to the line is Heinen. There is talent there, we’ve seen it, it’s just a matter of a young player figuring it out.

There seems to be a confidence issue there with Heinen. I think once he gets past that block, Heinen could be in store for success.

Third Line:

Joakim Nordstrom-Colby Cave-Ryan Donato

When the Bruins began training camp without a third line center in place, several Bruins were battling for the job. Colby Cave was not one of them. But with his start in Providence, followed by the injury to Bergeron, a door has opened for Cave.

In his brief stint with the Bruins, Cave has provided the Bruins some stability down the middle. I think his performance without Bergeron has been enough to earn him a long look on the third line.

I am not crazy about Donato playing the off-wing, but I think with a healthy lineup and his lack of success to date, this is the only spot he slides into the lineup. Since his recall from Providence, Donato has been better, but still not giving the Bruins enough in all phases of the game.

Unless you had insanely unfair expectations of Nordstrom, you have to like what he’s brought to the table. I think he’s the perfect fourth line player. However, with the Bruins lack of depth, he’s being pushed into a more important role.

Fourth Line:

Chris Wagner-Sean Kurlay-David Backes

The Bruins two biggest issues entering the season was their second line right wing and third line center. Two positions that the $6 million a year Backes could have filled. Instead, Backes has been suited for a fourth line role.

When youngsters like JFK and Jack Studnicka couldn’t earn the third line center job, it became Kuraly’s to lose. He lost it alright. Kuraly has been a disappointment this year, as he is yet to take that next step forward.

Once you get past the fact that one guy makes $6 million and the other should be playing a bigger role, the Bruins fourth line is a decent one. I’ve liked the look they’ve brought. They’re physical and have shown some offensive punch when needed.

D-Pair 1:

Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo

Defensively is when things get trickier for a healthy Bruins club. Both question marks entering the season, Chara and Carlo still provide the Bruins with a solid top defensive pair. You can make a case for Charlie McAvoy to play the role of top right defenseman, but I like Carlo in this role for the time being.

D-Pair 2:

John Moore-Charlie McAvoy

John Moore has been the Bruins most underrated player this season. Pairing him with McAvoy is a very solid second paring. McAvoy’s transition game with Moore’s smarts makes for a good combination behind Chara and Carlo.

D-Pair 3:

Torey Krug-Kevan Miller

Two spots for essentially five bodies. The biggest bright spot to come from the mess that has been the Bruins blueline has been the emergence of Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton, as well as the all-around improved play by Matt Grzelcyk.

However, the jobs are still Krug and Millers to lose. When healthy, Miller has been one of the Bruins best defensemen. They’ve also missed his toughness on the ice.

As long as Krug is healthy, he’s going to be in the lineup. With how much the Bruins are hurting for offense, they can’t afford to not have Krug on the ice.

Odd Men Out:

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
Noel Acciari
Matt Grzelcyk
Jeremy Lauzon
Connor Clifton
Urho Vaakanainen

This was the year the Bruins hoped that JFK would have his coming out party. So far, there’s been none of that. In the short amount of time he’s been given, he’s done some nice things. Putting in some solid efforts got him to center Marchand and Bergeron for a few games, going as far as shutting down a line led by Sidney Crosby. But his flaws defensively are too large for him to maintain a spot in the lineup each night. Until he can round out his game more defensively, Providence is where JFK will find most of his playing time.

Acciari is another Bruins forward who hasn’t brought much to the table. If Wagner, Kuraly or Nordstrom struggle, Acciari will get called back into the lineup. I would continue to expect next to nothing from him.

With a healthy blue line, Grzelcyk may not have a consistent spot to start. And that’s a shame. Grzelcyk has taken a massive step forward in his development, playing atop the top d-pair at times. If the Bruins were healthy, I would expect a rotation of sorts between Miller and Grzelcyk. He’s been to valuable to not play him.

I don’t know where the Bruins would be without Lauzon and Clifton. Both have provided the Bruins with more than anyone has expected with some of the bigger names out of the lineup. Unfortunately, because of who is ahead of the them on the depth chart, playing time will be hard to find once the roster is healthy. Maybe one or even both can be moved to obtain some help offensively. The Bruins need it.
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