With the fourth line in flux due to the injury to Curtis Lazar, 26-year-old Boston Bruins winger Karson Kuhlman will get the opening night start for the Black and Gold vs. the Dallas Stars for the second time in his NHL career. Kuhlman will be the right wing on the fourth line playing in place of Lazar alongside Tomas Nosek and Trent Frederic and is going to attempt playing “a little greasier” game despite being just 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds.
It’s simply part of what he’s going to need to do in order to stick in a talented Boston Bruins lineup where there is going to be a marked improvement in competition with a much deeper group of forwards this season.
“That’s something I can for sure add to [my game] and it’s something we’ve talked about as well,” said Kuhlman, who posted two goals in 20 games for the Boston Bruins last season. “I know it’s the role that I’m in right now, and it’s something I can bring and that will help the team a lot.”
Certainly, the greasiness and the net-front presence is something that Kuhlman can do a little more, but they also need his speed, tenacity and ability to disrupt opponents with his skating burst. It’s what he does when he’s at his best, but it’s something he has struggled in the past with having his best skating legs night in and night out for an 82-game regular season.
“Sometimes he’ll drop off and lose some of that edge when he goes in and all of a sudden [you’ll be asking] ‘Where was Kuhlman tonight?’ and we needed a little more from him in the second period when we were flat,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Those types of things he’ll do the first couple of games and that’s a mindset a little bit of a guy that maybe isn’t playing to stay in. We’re going through that with [Trent Frederic] a little bit too.
“That will be the ask of whoever is in that position and that’s why we are going with different people. Same thing with [Chris Wagner] to keep the pace up and keep up the physicality. It’s a tough job but you’ve got to do it every night.”
With that in mind, here’s the Boston Bruins line combos and D-pairings headed into opening night on Saturday against the Dallas Stars after waiting all week to get in on the regular season action: