BRIGHTON, Mass. — Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had hinted that the Bruins might be digging into Providence for a fourth line, energy-type player, and they did just that on Monday, calling Cameron Hughes up to Boston for his NHL debut.
The 2015 Bruins sixth-round pick will be suiting up on Boston’s fourth line tonight vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins in place of injured David Backes, who will be out for the next few games with an upper body injury. The 22-year-old Hughes will be the first Bruins player making his NHL debut this season after Jakub Zboril, Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn all debuted for the Black and Gold last year.
To make room for Hughes on the roster, the Bruins are quickly shipping Peter Cehlarik back to Providence after clearly not loving his game in each of the two NHL call-ups he’s received this season.
“He’s an energy guy. Good motor. He should be able to help us on the penalty kill. He did a good job [in Providence] so that’s an area we’re looking for him to support with some guys out,” said Cassidy. “He’ll be a fit with Kuraly and Wagner because he plays a straight-line game. He’s just a guy that will get on pucks and give you everything he’s got, so he should add to whatever line he’s on and be a good fit for a bottom-6 role.
“It doesn’t mean [Cehlarik] couldn’t have done it if he’d played a certain way. We saw Danton Heinen do that and a number of guys go through that. That’s how [Brad Marchand] started years ago. It’s just not his game right now, so we’re not going to force it on him. If he was able to adapt a little more then maybe we’d put him in more. At the end of the day, we liked the penalty killing side of it with Hughes.”
For Hughes, he will get PK work and fourth-line duties and will hope to build off a solid start in Providence where he had two goals and six points in 13 games and has 15 goals and 38 points in 65 games over the last two AHL seasons. He’ll also get to play in front of his parents in his NHL debut — as the Edmonton natives are flying in from Portland, Oregon — and against his youngest brother’s favorite NHL player, Sidney Crosby, while debuting against the Penguins.
“Obviously it’s really exciting. You work your whole life just to get this chance,” said Hughes, who missed much of NHL training camp this fall after taking a puck to the face. “I’m looking forward to it tonight. I’m going to do the things that I was doing well in Providence and just try to do them here. I’m not going to try to do too much. I’ll do what I’m comfortable doing and hopefully I have some success.
“At the end of the day it’s still hockey, so it’s the same game. I’ll definitely be nervous. I think that’s natural, but I’m also really excited. So I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
Other than Hughes getting into the lineup and Brett Ritchie returning after missing a few games with what he called “a bruise that somehow got infected”, Connor Clifton draws back in for Steve Kampfer and Jaroslav Halak will get the nod after two straight starts for Tuukka Rask. Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings based on Monday’s morning skate:
PROJECTED FORWARD LINES
|Brad Marchand||Patrice Bergeron||David Pastrnak|
|Jake DeBrusk||David Krejci||Danton Heinen|
|Anders Bjork||Charlie Coyle||Brett Ritchie|
|Cameron Hughes||Sean Kuraly||Chris Wagner|
|Zdeno Chara||Charlie McAvoy|
|Torey Krug||Brandon Carlo|
|Matt Grzelcyk||Connor Clifton|
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