It wouldn’t be a Boston Bruins opening night without some injury intrigue and that will be the case again this season with Craig Smith suddenly a game-time decision for the Black and Gold.
The 31-year-old Smith had participated in all of training camp leading up to Thursday’s opening night vs. the New Jersey Devils, but Bruce Cassidy confirmed that the third line winger tweaked a lower-body issue early this week. Smith woke up not feeling great on Thursday morning in New Jersey and that’s put his place in the B’s lineup into some question.
“He tweaked something earlier in the week and he didn’t feel great waking up this morning, so we’re going to have to obviously have to see how he is,” said Cassidy of Smith, who has been excellent in Bruins camp showing off speed and scoring ability from his third line spot. “If we can’t go then we’ll have to shuffle some lines. Frederic would probably go into the lineup and where would Bjork go because he’s played more on the right side. We’d have to look at that and looking at line combos, so we don’t have to disrupt everything we’ve done for the last 10 days or so. That’s what we’ll decide after warm-ups if we have to.”
Cassidy mentioned Brad Marchand will also be a “game-time decision” as he comes back from offseason sports hernia surgery, but the top line left winger is expected to play in the opener against New Jersey. If Smith can’t play then big, bruising center Trent Frederic would draw into the lineup and Anders Bjork would likely swing to the right side and spell Smith as the third line right winger.
If the Bruins are missing both Smith and David Pastrnak due to injuries to start, then generating offense will certainly be a little more of a difficult challenge for the Black and Gold.
Here are the Boston Bruins line combos and defense pairings based on the Thursday morning skate at the Prudential Center in Newark: