BRIGHTON -- It's certainly not the most ideal of situations, but the Bruins are going to be “tinkering” with their lineup right out of the starting gate for the regular season.
Already missing Torey Krug with a fractured jaw, Patrice Bergeron (lower body injury) and David Backes (illness) are both out of the Bruins lineup for opening night against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden after missing Thursday morning’s optional skate. Bergeron has skated for just a portion of one practice over the last five days, though the hope is that he’ll be able to return for Monday afternoon’s game against Colorado after a weekend off.
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Backes has missed the last couple of days with an undisclosed illness, and it sounded like he might miss some more time based on the vagueness of Bruce Cassidy’s comments on Thursday morning. With Bergeron missing from the lineup, Ryan Spooner is expected to center Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork and Frank Vatrano will step in for Backes.
“It throws a few lines into the blender, so we’re going to see some tinkering tonight,” said Cassidy. “Whatever the lines are, we want to play with pace and we want to be hard on the puck, and hard around the puck. That’s what we’re asking from all 12 forwards in the lineup.
“Psychologically I feel great and I’m looking forward to getting the season started. I hope all the players feel the same way. Obviously we’d love to dress the strongest lineup that we can, but one door closes and another one opens. It’s opportunity for other guys and we’ve just got to put our best foot forward. There are some good individuals out of the lineup, obviously, so we’ve got to do it more as a team tonight. That’s what is right in front of us.”
The good news is that Krug will meet with doctors on Friday after a scan of his healing jaw, and the puck-moving D-man hasn’t been ruled out for a possible return on Monday. Either way his return should be coming at some point next week based on the three-week timetable originally given from his time of injury last month.
Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings for Bruins opening night: