BRIGHTON, Mass. — After a couple of losses where they just weren’t getting enough, and missed some key forwards with injury, the Bruins are shaking things up as a couple of players return healthy.
The biggest alteration from head coach Bruce Cassidy is Charlie Coyle shifting from third-line center to second-line right wing, where he’ll team up with David Krejci to bring some offense to that group while Jake DeBrusk (lower body) misses the next few games. This comes after Cassidy was forced to shuffle his forwards in Friday night’s loss to the Red Wings, when a last minute scratch for Brett Ritchie forced defenseman Steve Kampfer into the game as an emergency forward. The veteran didn’t register a single shift during the game.
So with Ritchie, DeBrusk and Backes still injured and out of the lineup, Cassidy is making the move with Coyle and hopes it will bring a little more aggressiveness and net-front presence from one of Boston’s biggest, strongest forwards.
“Offense, right?” said Cassidy, when asked what he’d like to see by moving Coyle. “Maybe Charlie will be a little more shot-oriented now because he’s a centerman that likes to dish. Somebody on that line will have to shoot, right? That’s the one thing that Jake [DeBrusk] always brings is he’s a shot-first mentality, he’s a shooter.
“Danton is kind of 50/50, so as wingers on that line they need to understand that they need to shoot the puck when the opportunity presents itself. Get to the net and get inside a little more. As a center you’re covering more ice and you’re [third man] high a little more often playing with responsibility. He’s been playing with younger wingers. So now I’d like to see him around the net a little more and let the center take care of some of those other duties.”
After finishing October with goals in two straight games, Coyle has gone scoreless so far in November and has zero shots on net in his last three games. He did find the back of the net against the Canadiens, though it was overturned after he was found to be offsides in a dubious coach’s challenge.
Coyle is likewise hoping the move to wing frees him up to think more offensively. With only 29 shots in 16 games, he knows either way that he needs to have more of a shot-first mentality.
“I’ve never been a ‘shoot first’ kind of guy, but it’s something I need to do more of,” admitted Coyle. “I know I need to do more of it. Being put in that position can only help and get my mindset right about doing that. That’s the position that I’m in and that’s what I’ve got to do.”
Here are the projected Bruins line combinations and defensive pairings against the Flyers, based on Sunday’s morning skate:
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