The Bruins’ forward lines during Wednesday’s win over Ottawa were...interesting. Yes, let’s use that word.
Per Fluto Shinzawa, this is what we were looking at down the stretch:
Lines:— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) April 13, 2017
That’s one first line, one third line, one fourth line and one fourth+ line.
David Krejci’s absence was obviously huge, as it caused re-shuffling all over the place. With no real updates on Krejci’s condition, we still don’t really know if he’s going to play.
For the sake of discussion, we’ll assume Krejci isn’t playing, as if he is, the lines are a lot easier to figure out.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Leave it alone. Do not touch it. Do not think about touching it. The first line was the Bruins’ most dangerous by far, with all three above 62% CF 5v5. DO NOT CHANGE.
Frank Vatrano - David Backes - Drew Stafford
Here’s where it gets a little weird. Yes, that’s David Backes at center. No, David Backes hasn’t played a ton of center this year.
However, he was a center for much of his career in St. Louis, and knows the position. Backes and Stafford with Spooner in the middle didn’t really work on Wednesday, with all 50% or worse in possession.
Stafford was also forced to play on his off wing. He’s done so before, but is far more comfortable on the right.
Matt Beleskey - Ryan Spooner - Tim Schaller
Here’s where things get weird (and even weirder if Noel Acciari can’t go).
The Bruins’ third line has been their most problematic unit all season. There have been a number of guys in and out of the wings, different centers...nothing has really worked.
Spooner is going to be in the lineup, so pencil him in as the center.
For wings, you have any one of Sean Kuraly, Matt Beleskey, Tim Schaller and maybe Jimmy Hayes or a call-up.
Hayes is still dealing with the aftermath of a Colin Miller slapshot to the nuts from last week, and may not even be ready to play. Kuraly wasn’t great on Wednesday, though he did draw a penalty early.
If Acciari is ready, Kuraly is probably the one who drops out. I have a hard time seeing Bruce Cassidy put Hayes in the lineup, even if he’s ready and a natural right wing.
The wild card move would be to call up Peter Cehlarik, who should be up over a guy like Kuraly. However, that’s unlikely at this point.
In this scenario, Schaller would end up having to play on his off-wing, but it’s probably the best option.
Dominic Moore - Riley Nash - Noel Acciari
The ol’ fourth line is back together! Acciari appears to be a game-time decision; if he’s ready, he has to draw in, as he’s been great lately.
In fact, down the stretch, this fourth line was among the Bruins’ best. They play a hard-working game and are great on the forecheck. The key, of course, will be getting in on the forecheck quickly enough, given Ottawa’s system.
What do you think? If Krejci’s out again, do you just roll with the same lines as Wednesday, or try to switch things up?