During the summer, Bruce Cassidy envisioned a few different lineup possibilities for the Bruins. There were many variables to consider with each one. The coach admitted there were sleepless nights, thinking about how the team would look and trying to figure out the best options to make it a successful season.
Would the vast majority of the rookie class be ready for the NHL? Would the veterans who underwent offseason surgeries be ready for the start of the season? Would it be possible to have a balanced lineup with so many young players fighting for spots?
These are most of the questions that needed to be answered. With 25 games in the books, the individual performances have been evaluated, and now with the entire roster nearly healthy, Cassidy finally has one of the few lineups he’s been waiting on.
“The good news is we’re getting healthier, maybe as healthy as we’ve ever been, so that’s the positive,” Cassidy said.
Here’s what it will look like when Bruins host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Anders Bjork
Danton Heinen-Riley Nash-David Backes
Tim Schaller-Sean Kuraly-Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller
DeBrusk will be activated Thursday after a three-game hiatus due to an upper-body injury. As a result, general manager Don Sweeney & Co. will hold an internal discussion to decide which player is sent to the minors if he clears waivers.
However, that decision could get a stay of execution since Ryan Spooner re-aggravated a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated on Thursday. If he’s deemed game ready, then management will likely assign Matt Beleskey or Frank Vatrano to Providence. That doesn't mean Spooner will be in the lineup because he could be the healthy scratch.
Again, I not a fan of using the term “bridge” season but that’s exactly what this is for the Bruins. So the players that make the team better will remain in the Boston and those who don’t will be elsewhere. The Bruins are playing well of late and Cassidy doesn’t want to tinker with the lineup.
“It’s not about second chances, necessarily,” Cassidy said. “Every player that’s here has been given an opportunity to play, some more than others. But, if this is our best lineup, then it’s our best lineup.”
After DeBrusk returns, only Adam McQuaid (leg) remains sidelined. He's been skating on his own and could return at some point next week. Then, the Bruins will have another decision on their hands, but we'll address that scenario when the time comes.
The current roster/lineup is an impressive one. Here are the pros and cons for each line combination as constituted: