BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the NHL trade deadline a mere one day away, the Bruins will keep two veterans, who could be shipped elsewhere, out of their lineup tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden.
Matt Beleskey and John-Michael Liles will both be scratches as the B's try to make it seven wins in eight tries under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Tuukka Rask will get the call between the pipes against the Western Conference foe. The Liles scratch means that Colin Miller draws back in after being the healthy scratch in the Sunday matinee victory in Dallas.
The lines and pairings will look the same as they’ve been most of the time over the past seven mostly successful games. The Bruins will be focused on setting the tone rather than worrying about what the new-look Coyotes are going to do.
“The road trip is behind us and Arizona is in front of us, and that’s about as simple as we can make it,” said Cassidy. “They’re one of the teams that is on our schedule. I’m not being disrespectful at all in any way, shape or form, but our focus is on the Boston Bruins and getting our game in shape to play. Then we’ll make the minor adjustments we have to make.”
Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Coyotes based on the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
K. Miller-C. Miller
BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.
Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season.
No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal.
“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind.
“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”
Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season.
Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston.