John Moore

Joakim Nordstrom, John Moore back into Bruins lineup vs. Capitals

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Joakim Nordstrom, John Moore back into Bruins lineup vs. Capitals

Once again the Bruins will shake things up amongst their bottom-6 headed into the last game prior to the Christmas break while looking to snap a funk that’s seen them lose eight of their last nine games.

The Bruins will pull Chris Wagner from the lineup for Monday night’s game against the Washington Capitals and insert Joakim Nordstrom back in after he had been scratched for Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Nashville Predators. John Moore will also draw back into the lineup as Charlie McAvoy’s defense partner with Zdeno Chara out for this game after a procedure to remove the plates from his healed jaw.

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“Now it’s just a matter of we’re healthy and we’re going to be using different players and different lineups,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes the message is ‘Hey, you’re a solid player, but we have other solid players around here and we need you to be better.’ That’s some of what’s been going on around here lately. Sometimes it is performance-oriented and some of it is team record-oriented.

“[Wagner] is always going to be physical and give you what he’s got, but I’d like that line getting back to what they were the second half of last year where you know exactly what you’re going to get, and teams can’t stand playing against them. Maybe juggling those guys in and out will help us achieve that.”

Wagner does play with intensity and physicality, but he’s also got two points in his last 22 games while being unable to provide much in the way of secondary scoring from his third and fourth line roles.

So the Bruins will shake it up and try again on Monday night after similarly scratching both Nordstrom and David Backes ahead of the loss to Nashville just a couple of days ago.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Capitals based on the morning skate:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Par Lindholm

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

John Moore Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

Zdeno Chara will miss Monday's game due to jaw procedure

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Zdeno Chara will miss Monday's game due to jaw procedure

BRIGHTON, Mass – Zdeno Chara won’t be playing in Monday night’s final game ahead of the pre-Christmas holiday break due to a scheduled procedure related to his broken jaw suffered during last spring’s Stanley Cup Final.

The 42-year-old captain has suffered from some infection issues after wires and screws were surgically installed in his jaw during the healing process, so Chara is going to have all the hardware removed now that his mouth has healed up.

The hope and expectation is that there will be no more recurrence of the infection issues once all the medical paraphernalia has been removed from his jaw.

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The timing obviously isn’t ideal with the Bruins headed into a Monday night showdown with a Washington Capitals team that’s beaten them twice and with Boston having lost eight of their last nine games in their worst tailspin in a few seasons.

“It’s never going to be perfect. We tried to plan this and make the decision ahead of time, and that’s what it was. We tried to take advantage of the little break we have coming up so it wasn’t too demanding on the body,” said Chara, who hadn’t missed a single game yet this season while posting five goals and 13 points in 37 games along with a plus-18 rating this year. “The area where the surgery was done got infected, which is kind of rare. But it does happen. After the decision was made to remove all the plates and screws and clean it up. It’s pretty much the same [procedure] but instead of putting the plates in it will be taking the plates out.”

The good news is that Chara is expected to be good to go following the three-day holiday break and that means the B’s captain is expected to play against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night once regular season play resumes in the NHL. In his absence, the onus will be on young D-men like Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo to hold Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin in check with Boston’s defensive stopper taking a rare absence from the lineup for the procedure.

Connor Clifton in, John Moore out of lineup Thursday vs. Islanders

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Connor Clifton in, John Moore out of lineup Thursday vs. Islanders

BRIGHTON, Mass. — It hasn’t been a great run for John Moore since coming back from injury, with the B’s losing five of the six games he’s played thus far, so it's only fair to wonder if the Bruins should go back to Connor Clifton on the back end.

That will happen on Thursday night with Clifton replacing Moore in the lineup after Moore fell ill in the last 24 hours ahead of Boston’s home date with the New York Islanders.

Moore is off to a bit of an expected slow start after not getting into any hockey action for six months before jumping into the lineup, and it was his weak backhanded clear attempt that led to the late third-period game-tying goal for the Kings in Boston’s OT loss earlier this week.

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Moore has a goal and two points while averaging a shade under 15 minutes of ice time in the six games with the B’s since coming back from shoulder surgery.

Bruce Cassidy admitted that he might have been ready to make a change even if Moore was 100 percent healthy, but that isn’t the case, and it makes the decision that much easier to make alterations on the back end.

“We were getting close anyway, but Johnny can’t play. He started getting a little ill last night, so hopefully he’s better for the next game,” said Cassidy. “Hopefully Clifton gets back in there, gives us some solid minutes and gets back to the way he can play.”

Meanwhile Clifton has played just three games during the month of December, and has two goals and a plus-2 in 14:52 of ice time this season. He played an excellent game in Washington where he battled with Alex Ovechkin and played a more physical role against the Capitals, and the expectation is that it will be another heavy, competitive game against an Islanders group near the top of the Metro Division standings.

Otherwise there aren’t expected to be any lineup changes for the Bruins with Tuukka Rask getting another start against the Isles after finishing on the losing end of a duel with Jon Quick earlier this week. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Isles based on Thursday’s morning skate:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Chris Wagner
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly David Backes

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask