TORONTO -- Nick Holden suited up wearing No. 44 at his first official Bruins practice on Friday morning at the Ricoh Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies, but it remains to be seen exactly how things are going to shake out with the 30-year-old defenseman.
Holden mixed into the bottom pairing with a crowded back end of Matt Grzelcyk, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Paul Postma, and it sounded like he might not be breaking into the B’s lineup immediately. Bruce Cassidy might go with the same defensemen group that’s won two straight in Calgary and Edmonton, and then simply revisit with each passing game as the Bruins play a whopping 24 games in the final 44 days of the regular season.
“He’s big, he’s long,” said Cassidy. “I watched some of his shifts against us and Philadelphia . . . [he's] a good defender and [has] a good first pass. I think he’s going to help us.
"I know the next question is ‘when?’ We’re going to talk about that today. I don’t know when he’ll go into our lineup, to be honest with you. I don’t know if it will be tomorrow or Sunday (in Buffalo), with the reason being that we’ve liked the seven guys that we’ve used over the last two months.
“We can’t forget about that, or not have the loyalty to the guys that have got us here. We talked about it with him directly. We’ve played the guy that deserves to play this year, and once he’s in it’s his job to stay in. That’s about it.”
As it stands this weekend, the Bruins have nine healthy D-men on their roster and Holden is excited to get a chance to suit up in Black and Gold with his new team.
“I kind of knew I was getting traded, and when I found it was the Boston Bruins I was really excited,” said Holden. “Obviously they’re having a great year and it’s a really good team, so I’m very excited to get started. It worked out good that I was able to get in two days ago and go out with the team to dinner [in Toronto] and kind of meet everybody right away. It’s been great.”
Holden admitted it will be a change for him going more zone defense than man-to-man as it’s been in the past with the Rangers and the Avalanche, but those things tend to work themselves out in short order.
Otherwise it was a full group for the Black and Gold on Friday morning with Kevan Miller (upper body) fully healthy, and Tuukka Rask named as the starting goalie for Saturday night’s big game vs. the Maple Leafs.
Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Maple Leafs based on Friday’s practice session: