BRIGHTON, Mass – It looks like Austin Czarnik will get at least one more game in the Bruins lineup tonight with Noel Acciari expected to return on the road Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.
So, Acciari (lower body) will miss his seventh consecutive game and Czarnik gets his fourth game in a row with the fourth line skating with Sean Kuraly and Tim Schaller. Kevan Miller (upper body) skated on his own prior practice Saturday and may be in line to return next week.
The undersized, shifty Czarnik certainly gives a different dimension to the fourth line than the hard-hitting Acciari but has been productive with three assists in his three games since being recalled from Providence.
In short, Czarnik, 25, an All-Star in the AHL this season, has done the job for the Black and Gold when injuries created an opening for him on the wing.
“[Czarnik] has been good. He’s complemented that line in a different way than Noel [Acciari] would or Frank [Vatrano]. We want him to play with a high-motor. That’s the catch-phrase we’ve used with him, especially playing on the wing where there are no restrictions to playing on pucks,” said Bruce Cassidy. Czarnik is also a plus-2 with one shot on net in the three games after putting up 13 goals and 42 points in 38 games for the P-Bruins. “I think that’s freed him up to be a little bit more of a puck-pursuit guy and I think that’s helped him. He won a puck battle on the wall the other night that led to a goal and we’ve asked him to improve there. So that’s good.
"He wants to be a part of it. He has been around a while and he’s certainly had success at the American League level. Now he wants to do it here. He’s done what we’ve asked: He’s been on the power play and played a little bit on the penalty kill. I like that he has versatility, so with time and score situations he’s been an asset.”
Unfortunately, there may not be a spot for him when Acciari makes his expected return to the fourth line on Sunday, but that’s more a statement of Boston’s current depth up front than any knock on what Czarnik has done. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings vs. the Sabres based on Saturday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
BRIGHTON -- The Bruins have again recalled forward Austin Czarnik on an emergency basis after sending him back to the American Hockey League following last weekend’s appearance against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Czarnik was solid in a limited role during his season debut in Boston, recording a power-play assist in nine minutes of ice time as he stepped in when injuries and Brad Marchand's suspension cut into the Bruins' forward depth, and certainly merited another look simply based on his play. Czarnik served up the primary assist on Torey Krug’s insurance PP score in the second period of the big divisional win over Toronto, and the diminutive forward also skated effectively with Sean Kuraly and Frank Vatrano as a pieced-together fourth line.
“I [thought] he was good,” Bruce Cassidy said after the win over the Leafs. “Lots of energy, on the puck, made a play on the power play, which we’re used to seeing him make. I thought that whole line did their job pretty well, other than maybe the shift with a minute to go where they got hemmed in their own end a bit. But no complaints and that’s what we need.”
Czarnik, 25, leads Providence in scoring and is tied for sixth in the AHL in points with 13 goals and 42 points in 38 games. He was one of two P-Bruins selected to play in the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound forward has 5 goals and 16 points for Boston in parts of the last three seasons since signing an entry-level deal with the B’s out of college.
The call-up is, of course, due to Kevan Miller (upper body), Noel Acciari (lower body) and Anders Bjork (upper body) all missing from practice and still out with injuries, while Marchand finishes up the final game of his five-game suspension for a head shot.
Here are the line combos and D-pairings from practice ahead of a two-game road trip through Detroit and New York City:
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.