Less than a week ago, Bruce Cassidy shared plenty of optimism when it came to the state of a B’s forward corps that — even without its top sniper in David Pastrnak — entered the 2021 campaign with depth not seen on this club in years.
After failing to find a suitable winger to slot to David Krejci's right for years, Boston appeared committed to seeing what a shot-first winger like Ondrej Kase could offer, while penciling its top offseason pickup in Craig Smith on the third line next to Charlie Coyle and Nick Ritchie in hopes of sparking some much-needed 5v5 scoring punch outside of the B's potent top line.
Given both an accelerated training camp and the desire to get those middle-six lines rolling out of the gate, Cassidy and the Bruins didn't tinker too much with both the Krejci and Coyle lines over the past few weeks — with the B's bench boss hoping that some extended reps out of the gate could help yield immediate results.
"We’re going to try to sort of push away what happened last year, and focus on the positives of when they played well together,” Cassidy said of the second line last week. "They will have a consistent right wing as well. We’re hoping that Ondrej Kase fits in there on a permanent basis now. I’ve been known to shuffle my lines. I’m sure that will happen from time to time. … We’re hoping that Kase is that guy. We’re seeing some good scrimmages out of them now. Some chemistry, fresh start, so to speak, we like what we’ve seen so far. … So we see a much more solidified top six and Jake is part of that, but he just has to do his part, go out, give us a solid, 15-18 minutes every night, be consistent. And I think that he’s capable of that — should be able to give us that and that’s, again, the expectation.”
Well, it was sound logic at the time.
But, whether it be due to injuries or ineffectiveness up front, it seems as though Boston's hopes of sticking with some set forward trios out of the gate have pretty much fallen to the wayside.