With Boston looking to shake off a miserable result agains the Penguins Thursday night, Bruce Cassidy did one of the few things he could do to with a roster that is still significantly shorthanded due to both injuries and COVID-19 protocols — put it in a blender.
On Friday morning, Boston's lone practice ahead of a matinee rematch with the Pens on Saturday, the B's bench boss tinkered with all four of his forward lines. The move was headlined by the often-discussed tactic of slotting a slumping David Pastrnak down to David Krejci's line, while bumping up Craig Smith up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
While you'd be hard-pressed to find a winger that wouldn't thrive next to 37+63, Smith's shot-first style and strong play along the boards should especially compliment Boston's star forwards — with Boston holding a 24-12 edge in shot attempts and 18-8 advantage in shots on goal during the 18:54 of ice time where a Marchand-Bergeron-Smith trio has been deployed.
As for Pastrnak, the results have been quite disappointing when he's been paired with another playmaking pivot in Krejci — with Boston outscored, 2-0, in the 56:25 of 5v5 ice time where he's skated with Boston's regular 2C. Still, it seems rather evident than a shake-up is needed, or at the very least, a temporary demotion is warranted given Pastrnak's play of late.
Things get interesting on the third line, with Sean Kuraly expected to take to the ice for the first time since March 16 after spending a few weeks on the NHL's COVID-19 Protocol List. But rather than skate on the wing, the speedy forward will slot in at 3C — with the traditional pivot in Charlie Coyle taking over at right wing. While a bit unorthodox given Coyle's usual preference down the middle, Cassidy believes such a switch might