Kevan Miller

Bruins roll with a familiar lineup in Game 2

bruins_back_gametwo.jpg
AP Photos

Bruins roll with a familiar lineup in Game 2

TAMPA BAY, Florida – The Bruins will be at full strength with the same lineup for Monday night’s Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning after both David Krejci and Kevan Miller missed Sunday’s practice with very minor issues. Bruce Cassidy indicated there won’t be any changes to the 12 forwards and six D-men along with starting goalie Tuukka Rask after last weekend’s Game 1 win over the Bolts, but there could be some in-game switching between the third and fourth line centers depending on how the match-ups play out.

That could potentially mean Sean Kuraly up with David Backes as they were in last spring’s playoffs to very good effect, and Riley Nash with Noel Acciari and Tim Schaller in a role that isn’t foreign for him either.

MORE HAGGS: B's have made full transformation to offense juggernauts in these playoffs

“The play of these two individuals for the most part, and the play of whoever they’re matched up against,” said Cassidy, when asked how he’d decide on his third and fourth line centers with the last change in Tampa. “We can only pre-plan so much with them having the last change, so if it’s [Nikita] Kucherov and [Steven] Stamkos then Nash has been a good 200-foot player for us all year. Kuraly is a guy that we trust against anybody.

“They’re different kinds of styles: Riley is a little more methodical in his approach Sean is all about closing and taking away time and space. Whatever the best fit is, that’s probably how we’ll determine that.”

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings against the Lightning based on Monday’s optional morning skate at Amalie Arena:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Nash

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Miller

Grzelcyk-McQuaid

 

Rask

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Krejci misses practice with "very minor injury", expected to play Game 2

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File Photo

Krejci misses practice with "very minor injury", expected to play Game 2

BRANDON, Fla. -- David Krejci, Kevan Miller and Tuukka Rask were all missing from Bruins practice today at the Ice Sports Complex practice home of the Tampa Bay Lightning in between Game 1 and Game 2 of their second round series, but all three are expected to suit up for Monday night’s Game 2 at Amalie Arena.

Krejci is nursing a “very minor injury” after absorbing a couple of heavy hits in Saturday afternoon’s winning opener, and both Miller and Rask were taking maintenance days while the rest of the team went through a fairly light-hearted practice. Tommy Wingels stepped in for Krejci while centering Rick Nash and Jake DeBrusk in make-shift fashion with the frontline center sitting out the quick practice session.

“Krejci has a very minor injury, so he, Kevan Miller and Tuukka [Rask] we decided to give them maintenance days,” said Cassidy. “They’re fine. I don’t anticipate that they’re going to miss tomorrow. They should be ready to go.”

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Krejci played 16:38 in Saturday’s win and finished up the game for the Bruins, and Miller was third on the Bruins with 21:29 of ice time while finishing with a plus-3 rating amid a strong performance against Tampa Bay. With Rask sitting out the Sunday’s practice, Bruins prospect Daniel Vladar practiced with Anton Khudobin as the two goaltenders for the Black and Gold during their quick 45-minute off-day skate where they geared up and drove from Amalie Arena before hopping on the practice ice.

Here are the Bruins line combos and D-pairings from Sunday’s practice ahead of Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Wingels-Nash

Heinen-Nash-Backes

Schaller-Kuraly-Acciari

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-McQuaid

Grzelcyk-Holden

 

Khudobin

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Bean: Sloppy Bruins need to get it together if they want to beat Lightning

Bean: Sloppy Bruins need to get it together if they want to beat Lightning

The Bruins are in the second round against the Lightning. They were always supposed to be. 

Still, they made the first round look alarmingly difficult.

They were not supposed to need a Game 7, heart-attack win against the Maple Leafs. They weren't supposed to need a third-period comeback to get out of the first round against an inferior opponent. 

This Bruins team, which blew away everyone's expectations in the regular season with 112 points, did not look like one of the league's three best teams in the first round. A lot of things did not go according to plan. 

Now the Bruins will need to see serious improvement in multiple areas with a real opponent awaiting them in Tampa. Among them: Defense, goaltending, coaching and secondary scoring. 

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Charlie McAvoy played better in Game 7, but his play throughout the series has done little to convince anyone he's all the way back from his knee injury. Torey Krug scoring the game-tying in third period was a feel-good moment, as the veteran defenseman had gone from one of the best players on the ice in the first two games to extremely shaky as the series went on.

The Bruins got through the first round with strong play from Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller and Matt Grzelcyk. Chara's performance is a given as long as he's healthy. Heading into a series against the best offense in the NHL, they'll need much better play in their own zone throughout their six defensemen. 

On that note, the Bruins can't afford to have another lapse behind the bench like they did in Game 5, when Bruce Cassidy changed his defensive matchups in a move that gave Toronto two first-period goals. Cassidy was just so-so in the first round, as the good decisions (matching Chara against Auston Matthews throughout the first four games, returning his lineup to normal in Game 7) were met with plenty of questionable ones (playing Tommy Wingels on the second line in Game 6, taking Chara away from Matthews in Game 5). 

Tuukka Rask was not his usual postseason self in the first round. He struggled in Game 5 and did not look confident at all for much of Game 7. His struggles are only exaggerated locally for some reason, but allowing one bad goal in the playoffs is enough to sink his team. Rask allowed three or four. 

Mike Babcock did his best to minimize them, but Patrice Bergeron's line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were dynamite for much of the series. Pastrnak scored seven damn goals. On the second line, Jake DeBrusk showed a Nathan Horton-esque to rise to the occasion. The fourth line, overall, was its usual strong self. 

David Krejci bookended the series with great performances, but was unremarkable in between. David Backes brought nothing 5-on-5. Rick Nash got better as the series went on, but had only two points all series. Danton Heinen was mediocre for five games before being  scratched for Game 6 and scoring a huge goal in Game 7. 

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Many of these issues did not exist throughout the season, when the Bruins pushed for the Presidents' Trophy despite playing with several injuries. The regular season was impressive. The first round agains the Maple Leafs, overall, was not. 

So now they head to Tampa, where a buzzsaw could await. The Bruins outplayed the Lightning in their regular season meetings, but Tampa is fresh off mowing through the Devils in five Games. 

So celebrate Wednesday's win, but note that your nails aren't quite as long as they were when the postseason started. One round is in the books. If the Bruins don't get their act together, the next one will be their last.  

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