Bruins

Spooner likely out, Kuraly likely in as Bruins prepare for last stand

Spooner likely out, Kuraly likely in as Bruins prepare for last stand

OTTAWA -- Bruce Cassidy will be making some lineup changes headed into the Bruins' do-or-die Game 5 against the Senators, and the most significant is that Ryan Spooner won’t be playing after a largely ineffective first four games in the series.

Cassidy said Spooner “was less than 100 percent” due to an unspecified injury, but that it’s something he could have played through under normal circumstances.

Rookie Sean Kuraly will be back in the lineup after doing a pretty good job filling in for Noel Acciari earlier in the series, and he’ll center a young, more inexperienced fourth line that includes Frank Vatrano and Tim Schaller.

“[Spooner] could play. This is more about what Sean brings right now,” said Cassidy. “Clearly Ryan does some very good things for us, but we just made a decision that Sean, as a center iceman, will bring us some good qualities as well. So we had to make that decision.”

Clearly Spooner hasn’t done enough during five-on-five play to justify keeping him in the lineup for power-play responsibilities, and he wasn't making enough of an offensive impact with just two shots on net in four games.

Otherwise most of the group is the same. There's still no sign of the injured Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo or Adam McQuaid as the Bruins, who trail the best-of-seven series 3-1, play what could be their final game of the year.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on morning skate:
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes
Stafford-Krejci-Pasta
Moore-Nash-Acciari
Vatrano-Kuraly-Schaller
 
Chara-McAvoy
Morrow-K Miller
Liles-C Miller
 
Rask

Bruins' 'preference' is to leave Charlie Coyle at third line center

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File photo

Bruins' 'preference' is to leave Charlie Coyle at third line center

BRIGHTON -- There was some question as to whether Charlie Coyle might get a little time at wing this season for the Bruins after locking things down at the third line center position last season after coming over in trade from the Minnesota Wild.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Coyle brought two-way play, puck possession and offensive upside to the third line upon his arrival, and then he really stepped it up in the playoffs with nine goals and 16 points in his 24 games. So naturally, there is curiosity as to whether his size, strength and offense could move up to right wing on the second line where his game could be paired pretty comfortably with playmaking David Krejci.

Or even more radically, Coyle’s size and strength could make an interesting match on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

But it sounds like the Bruins are going to keep things strong down the middle with Bergeron and Krejci as their top-6 centers and Coyle and Sean Kuraly as the bottom-6 centers giving the B's depth and quality down the middle of the lineup. Coyle was centering Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen at practice on Wednesday afternoon and has played center throughout training camp.

It may be getting to a point now where they don’t want to fool around with things by switching Coyle’s positions on him as happened in Minnesota, and it certainly sounds like Cassidy’s preference is to leave him at center.

“Generally speaking the match-up is the D-pair and the centerman down low. The wingers obviously matter, but they are less of a factor. At least that’s what I think when I think match-ups. So to have Charlie [Coyle] in there [at center] now, and my intention is to keep him there unless the team would be better served with him on the wing,” said Cassidy. “Right now, we like the way we played last year and hopefully this year. It makes you a lot more comfortable in terms of defending.”

Cassidy reserved the right to change his mind if Trent Frederic really comes along as an NHL-ready center or if all of the top-6 right wing candidates end up dropping the ball in training camp. That doesn’t appear to be the case over the first week of training camp and that may just mean Coyle stays in his comfortable position at center where he gives the Bruins the lineup depth that helped catapult them to the Stanley Cup Final last spring.

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Bruins only have one player on ESPN's 'Top 100 NHL prospects' list

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Bruins only have one player on ESPN's 'Top 100 NHL prospects' list

The Boston Bruins weren't exactly well represented on ESPN's "Top 100 NHL prospects list" heading into the new season.

20-year-old Jack Studnicka was the only B's prospect to make the list, landing in the No. 61 spot. Here's what ESPN's Chris Peters had to say about the 2017 second-round pick:

"A free-wheeling forward who can do a little bit of everything, Studnicka will be put to the test early in the AHL. But he looks more than ready to make the most of it."

In 60 games between the Oshawa Generals and the Niagra IceDogs of the OHL last season, Studnicka tallied 83 points (36 goals, 47 assists). The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder also scored in a playoff game with the Providence Bruins. He'll continue to battle for a spot on the NHL roster throughout camp.

Some of the Bruins prospects left out of the top 100 include Urho Vaakanainen, Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic, Jakub Lauko, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Zach Senyshyn.

Unsurprisingly, Jack Hughes (Devils) and Kaapo Kakko (Rangers) topped ESPN's rankings.

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