In another attempt to spark what has been a largely lifeless forward corps, Bruce Cassidy juggled up his second and third lines once again ahead of Monday’s home matchup against the Dallas Stars.
Joakim Nordstrom continued to his trip across the B’s depth chart, landing at left wing on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk — while David Backes will return to the pivot at the third line with a demoted Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork.
While Heinen has largely played in a top-six role after getting scratched for consecutive games in October, the 23-year-old forward has yet to produce with Krejci and DeBrusk — limited to just three helpers through 11 games played.
Likewise, Backes has struggled to get going even before a concussion sidelined him for five games last month. The 34-year-old veteran has yet to record a point so far this season, and was part of a third line on Saturday against Nashville that was outshot, 11-3, over eight minutes of five-on-five ice time.
For Backes, getting switched back from wing to center might take some adjusting, but it will be a spot that he was slowly getting acclimated to before his head injury.
"I think there are certain little nuances that are coming along,” Backes said. “I played more at the beginning of this season at center than I have the rest of my time here in Boston. Yeah, I'm feeling a little more comfortable.”
Even with the number of moves up and down the lineup, Backes noted that the pressure is there for Boston’s bottom three forward lines to start clicking in order to help out Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak up top.
“Obviously it's there and when those guys don't score, it's glaring that those guys have the ability to put up very crooked numbers in a single game,” Backes said. “They're arguably — not much of an argument, I guess — our best three forwards together. So we've got that line loaded. With the opportunities that they get, they're very good at producing for us. So we can't sit back and wait for them to do it. We've got to be pushing the envelope."
Elsewhere, Tuukka Rask will get his first start in net since Oct. 27 against the Canadiens. With five games in eight days, Cassidy will have to at least give both netminders some reps, especially in terms of giving Jaroslav Halak a breather after stopping 81 shots over his past two starts.
In his career against the Stars, Rask is 6-2-1 with a .929 save percentage.