The Boston Bruins are expected to trot out a new-look lineup Thursday night as they visit the Winnipeg Jets to kick off a season-long six-game road trip.
While Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Brett Connolly is expected to remain intact, changes appear to be in store for both the second and third lines.
Usual second-line left wing Loui Eriksson reportedly dropped down to the third line during Thursday’s morning skate, with Matt Beleskey bumping up to take Eriksson’s spot on the second line alongside center David Krejci and right wing David Pastrnak.
Pairing Eriksson with third-liners Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes likely is an attempt by Bruins coach Claude Julien to inject a bit of defensive stability into a unit that has struggled in its own end at times this season. Meanwhile, moving Beleskey to Krejci’s wing should create more scoring opportunities for the gritty winger, who’s impressed Julien with his aggressiveness but has just eight goals to his credit.
“He’s working hard,” Julien told reporters, via BostonBruins.com. “He’s being the gritty player that we asked him to be, and there’s no doubt he would like to produce more and it’s not from lack of trying.
“It’s just one of those situations where his physicality creates room for other players, and he does shoot the puck a lot, and he does get to the front of the net, so he’s just got to continue to work hard here, and hopefully things will turn around for him.”
Tuukka Rask is expected to start in goal for the Bruins two days after allowing five goals in just over a period and a half in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Rask was pulled midway through the second period, and backup Jonas Gustavsson surrendered an additional four tallies as the Kings won 9-2 to hand the Bruins their worst loss since 2008.
Winger Tyler Randell, who scored one of Boston’s two goals in the loss, is expected to remain in the lineup against Winnipeg, with Landon Ferraro projected as a healthy scratch.
The Jets, who routed the Bruins 6-2 in the regular-season opener for both teams, enter Thursday’s matchup with the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
Here are the projected lines and pairings, as reported by the teams:
BOSTON BRUINS (28-19-6)
Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey — David Krejci — David Pastrnak
Loui Eriksson — Ryan Spooner — Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo — Max Talbot — Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara — Zach Trotman
Joe Morrow — Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug — Kevan Miller
WINNIPEG JETS (24-26-3)
Nikolaj Ehlers — Bryan Little — Blake Wheeler
Mattieu Perreault — Mark Scheifele — Drew Stafford
Andrew Ladd — Adam Lowry — Joel Armia
Chris Thorburn — Andrew Copp — Alex Burmistrov
Tobian Enstrom — Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot — Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart — Jacob Trouba
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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