BRIGHTON, Mass – It looks like the Boston Bruins are going to make some changes coming off a tough weekend loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rookie forward Jack Studnicka appears headed back into the lineup, this time as a winger, based on the practice line rushes at Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, where he might be able to help jumpstart a third line struggling to produce offensively. The 22-year-old Studnicka has an assist in three games this season but hasn’t played since back-to-back road losses in October against the Panthers and Hurricanes when he got a chance to center a second line of Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle.
Coyle has settled in as the second line center since Craig Smith’s return to the lineup, but perhaps Studnicka can bring a spark to Jake DeBrusk and a struggling Erik Haula before a healthy Nick Foligno returns to the B’s lineup.
“We’re considering it. That’s what we looked at today in practice, but we’ll make a decision tomorrow morning,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “That line, offensively, has had some looks, but hasn’t been able to finish. Maybe a different flavor there and it gets [Lazar] back where he started [on the fourth line]. I think [Karson Kuhlman] has done a nice job of what we’ve asked on that line.
“Sometimes a different type of player can help get the line going. I didn’t think [Erik Haula] had his legs going as much the other night as he has. Sometimes it’s a subtle message to get your legs going and get back into the game. I think he’s been a little snake-bitten to be honest with you. He’s had some ups and downs, but a couple go in and we’re probably not talking about this.”
Haula has one assist and is a minus-4 in nine games played with the B’s thus far this season after looking strong during training camp.
Certainly, Studnicka feels like playing the wing might be a bit better of an option for him this time around after putting on 15 pounds of muscle over the summer. Winning board battles and shooting the puck should be the top priorities when he hops over the boards, and it feels like the youngster is ready to embrace both of those things necessary to play on the wing.
“It was a learning curve last year having to do it, but I’ve worked a lot with the coaches in practice in certain situations taking pucks off the well. I’m a lot stronger this year, so probably better-equipped for board battles going in my favor this year,” said Studnicka. “Being an offensive guy, you should know when to shoot it and when to pass. So if the shot is there, I need to take it.”
It’s likely a short-lived spot for Studnicka with Nick Foligno expected to return to the lineup Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers. It might also be the last time we see Studnicka for a bit if he’s returned to Providence once Foligno comes back, a move that would give Studnicka a chance to get some playing time that’s been sporadic over the last 10 days.
Rookie Jeremy Swayman will get the start for the Bruins after playing well in last week’s win over the Red Wings.
Here are the Boston Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings for Tuesday night’s game against Ottawa based on Monday’s practice: