RALEIGH – After watching his second defensive pairing struggle mightily in Game 1, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has decided to flip-flop the left side of his top four defense pairings for Game 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
The second pairing of Matt Grzelcyk (-3) and Brandon Carlo (-2) was a combined minus 5 in a 5-1 loss for the Boston Bruins in Game 1. So Cassidy has decided to put Matt Grzelcyk with his on again/off again partner over the years, and former Boston University running mate, Charlie McAvoy for Game 2. That will drop Hampus Lindholm down to the left side with Carlo. Cassidy is hoping to light a spark on the blue line and also allow for some in-game flexibility.
“I just thought Grizz and Carlo had a bit of a challenging night,” the Boston Bruins head coach said after practice Tuesday. “So, we talked about using Lindholm with Carlo at times as well. It also allows you then to in-game put Lindholm and McAvoy together maybe after they’ve sat a shift for [Derek] Forbort and [Connor] Clifton going over, so we can still keep them as a pair.
When they’re always together, then they’re together and that’s it. So, it might up Lindy’s minutes a little bit in certain situations. It’s that time of year, he looks healthy, so there’s a little bit of that involved. And you can still go back to the other. He can play with both.”
While the usual top pairing of Hampus Lindholm-Charlie McAvoy is so successful on breakouts, Cassidy is hoping to add a bit more of that to both of his top four pairings.
“[Lindholm] is excellent on the breakout like Charlie is, so now you’ve got one in each pair that can be a one-man breakout as opposed to loading them up,” said Cassidy. “Loading them up, obviously, frees one of the others up to join the offensive attack, right? You’re taking from one to give to another and see how it works out.
And as I said, in game you could still, coming out of a timeout, maybe use Lindholm and McAvoy if it’s an offensive draw or a key defensive draw or you need a breakout or etcetera. So that’s the reasoning and it’s just a little different look for the matchups as well.”
Here’s what the Bruins lineup looked like at practice Tuesday:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron– Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall – Erik Haula – David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Nick Foligno – Tomáš Nosek – Curtis Lazar
Anton Blidh – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – Connor Clifton
Mike Reilly – Josh Brown