As the Boston Bruins gear up for a matchup with the red got St. Louis Blues tonight, all eyes will be on the Bruins lineups, especially the defensive pairings. In the wake of multiple injuries to the defensive core, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy has gotten creative as he is short two of his regular top-four defenseman for tonight’s game. The injury bug could not have hit Boston at the worst time as they are in the midst of a battle for the third spot in the Atlantic Division with Tampa Bay. With the Bruin’s loss on Sunday to the Washington Capitals and the Lightning’s win over Buffalo, Tampa Bay moved ahead of us in the standings by one point. The Bruins also have to be careful as the Washington Capitals look to erase a five-point deficit in the wild-card race that would move Boston to the second wild-card spot. If this occurs, they will be up for a first-round matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading Florida Panthers.
For tonight’s matchup, the forward lines will look similar as David Pastrnak is still out due to the nagging core injury leaving rookie Marc McLaughlin to fill in on the second line right wing position alongside Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. Luckily for the Bruins, two of their most productive lines this season will all be intact as Marchand, Bergeron, and Debrusk will handle first-line duties while Frederic, Coyle, and Smith take up third-line duties. The Fourth line of the gritty Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek, and Curtis Lazar will remain the same as they look to bring some energy. For the Bruins to win, they will need all four of these lines to carry their weight, as the Bruins will need an offensive explosion greater than just two goals.
The biggest shakeup will be in the defensive pairings as both Hampus Lindholm and Matt Grzelcyk are slated to miss the game. This will be Lindholm’s third consecutive game he will miss, while it’ll be Grzelcyk’s first since exiting Sunday’s matchup in the second period at Washington. For Bruce Cassidy, this means using his depth pieces and figuring out what combo works the best and which players’ skill sets will complement each other. Alongside Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing, Cassidy has moved Derek Forbort from the third pairing to the top in hopes of finding a balance between the two. In place of the injured Grzelcyk, Mike Reilly will skate alongside Brandon Carlo to fill out the second pairing as the combo of Carlo and Reilly look to move the offense when on the ice. The final and third pairing will consist of trade deadline acquisition Josh brown and Connor Clifton as they skate together for the first time this season.
In net, today will be rookie goaltender Jeremey Swayman who will look to start this three-game home stretch with a win as Linus Ullmark got the last two starts to finish off their recent road trip. Swayman looks to win his 21st game of the season and get back on track after a couple of recent rough starts. This will be an important game for matchup as he looks to quiet the haters and establish himself as the number one goalie come playoffs.