TORONTO – With the Bruins shipping Austin Czarnik back to Providence on Thursday’s off-day, it looks like Noel Acciari is going to make his return to the lineup on Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Czarnik had an assist and a minus-3 rating in six games for the Bruins this season, but was hardly noticeable in his last three games while putting up a big minus-4 and registering just four shots on net after an initial burst to his game when he was called back up to Boston.
That’s been the modus operandi for Czarnik over the last few years bouncing between Providence and Boston. The small, hard-nosed forward will pop for the first couple of games after a recall with speed and aggressiveness, but then seems to fall back into a slower, cautious and less effective mode when he strings a few NHL games in a row.
Bruce Cassidy termed Acciari a “game-time decision” vs. the Leafs when speaking with the media on Thursday, but it looks like he’s back in based on the fact Boston only has 11 healthy forwards after the Czarnik demotion. There’s an outside chance that Brad Marchand could be ready to play on Friday as well, but it didn’t seem likely as Cassidy said that the Bruins left winger was “in the protocol” for what’s believed to be a concussion.
The B’s head coach welcomed Acciari’s return to the lineup from a broken finger, and knows that his hard-hitting, energetic style could help spark a Bruins group that’s been slow-starting on the road this season.
“He’ll be a game-time decision. He gives us physicality, straight-line [skating] and can change the momentum of a game on the fore-check with some big hits,” said Cassidy of Acciari, who busted his finger blocking a shot in the opening night win over Nashville. “It would be nice to have that element back into our game. His offense was rounding into [shape], but that might be a little difficult after missing so much time. But the physical part of it and the straight-line play will be beneficial for us.
“Matt Beleskey has been good in that area at times, and threw a couple of big hits [against the Rangers]. It helps if you can roll one [fore-checker] into two, so the first guy ends up setting up the second guy. Then you get a little bit of a momentum swing when it can lead to turnovers.”
In addition to Acciari likely drawing back in, Cassidy also indicated the Bruins were leaning toward giving Anton Khudobin the start on Friday night in Toronto before coming back with Tuukka Rask on Saturday vs. the Leafs in Boston.