After sitting out last weekend following a blind side hit that dinged him in the blowout win over the New Jersey Devils in his Boston Bruins debut, 6-foot-5 defenseman Josh Brown will be back in the lineup for Boston on Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
Brown will form a third pair with Mike Reilly as Derek Forbort (lower body) and Connor Clifton will sit against the Blue Jackets in what’s fast becoming a very competitive final few weeks for the third pairing spots on defense.
Brown was just happy he felt healthy enough to play after feeling “weird” during the Devils game after taking the hit, one that wasn’t involved with this heavyweight bout on his very first shift of the game.
“It was kind of a weird play. Just took a hit and felt weird the rest of the game. But We took all the necessary precautions and all of the tests and everything, and I feel fine now,” said Brown. “So good to go. Maybe it was some whiplash or something like that, but I’m feeling good.
“I thought I was playing pretty good up until that point to and obviously the game was going great for the team. It was a tough way to end it, but I’ve got a few days practicing with the guys and starting to feel more comfortable with the systems. So it’s business as usual now.”
Mike Reilly mentioned on Saturday that he views himself as “an everyday guy” and that serving as a healthy scratch probably didn’t sit well with him. Bruce Cassidy knows that will be the same with whomever is sitting out from this point moving forward, but it speaks to the depth the Boston Bruins have built on the back end when everybody is healthy.
“Reilly and Brown will go in on the back end. What we want to see from [Brown] is a good defender, adapt to our system, be in front of the net in terms of boxing out and make a good first pass. His stick and positioning on the PK is another area he could contrinbute,” said Boston Bruins head coach Cassidy. “No one is happy when they come out. Everybody feels like they deserve to be in on a regular basis. I have no problem with that mentality, but then there’s the part where you have to prove it. That’s the part where you have to back it up.
“But they’re all good teammates, they’re all good Bruins and they’ve accepted that we’re going to look at some guys for our third pair and that’s just the way it is. That’s what everybody was told when we traded for Brown and Lindholm. There’s going to be mixing and matching until we see what we want to see, and that could go down to the wire.”
In other health news, Craig Smith is battling a nagging upper body injury but is expected to play on Monday night as it’s something the Bruins will “keep an eye on” and hope a couple of days off on the road following Tuesday’s Detroit game will calm the issue down. Here are the Boston Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings for tonight’s game vs. the Blue Jackets based on the morning skate in Columbus:
#NHLBruins morning rushes:
Marchand – Bergeron – DeBrusk
Hall – Haula – Pastrnak
Frederic – Coyle – Smith
Foligno – Nosek – Lazar
Lindholm – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Reilly – Brown
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 4, 2022