How a shortened bench and rare break-up got the Bruins’ 4th line back on track

(Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

If there was ever a game for Bruce Cassidy to shorten his bench — this wasn’t it.

Already forced to salvage the final leg of a three-game road trip without *clears throat* —  Kevan Miller (upper body), Marcus Johansson (lung contusion), David Pastrnak (thumb), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (foot) and Torey Krug (upper body) — Cassidy was going to need to rely heavily on his go-to lines if the club was going to snap its two-game losing skid.

That meant more minutes for both Patrice Bergeron & Brad Marchand (14:04 5v5 TOI together) — with the duo now up to 41 points since the start of February (19 games), while keeping the fourth line of Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari intact.

With David Krejci’s line featuring a promoted Charlie Coyle on the wing and a (literally) promoted Paul Carey up from Providence — along with a third line centered by 21-year-old Trent Frederic — rolling out the fourth line at least gave Cassidy one group with some cohesion, and a history of sustained, effective production this season.

So why then, did Cassidy essentially bench his fourth line for the final 10 minutes of the first period during Thursday’s matchup against the Jets?