Perhaps the element of surprise will give the Boston Bruins an edge against the New York Islanders.
The B’s are hoping that’s the case as they’ll be shorthanded Thursday night when they face the Isles at UBS Arena for the first time. Boston will be without six players — Craig Smith, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Jeremy Swayman, Anton Blidh and Trent Frederic — who have entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol in recent days. Their absences force head coach Bruce Cassidy to patch together lines and pairings out of the remaining available players.
Charlie Coyle will center the Bruins’ top line, joining left wing Taylor Hall and right wing David Pastrnak.
Jake DeBrusk will move from right wing to left wing on the second line, where he’ll play alongside center Jack Studnicka and right wing Oskar Steen, both of whom Boston recalled Tuesday on an emergency basis.
Left wing Erik Haula drops from the second to the third line, joining Nick Foligno, who moves from left to right wing and center Tomas Nosek.
Curtis Lazar moves from right wing to center on the fourth line. Karson Kuhlman will join him, having played on the third line in Boston’s previous outing, as will Jesper Froden, whom the B’s called up Thursday. Despite having a right shot, Froden will play on the left wing, where he normally plays for Providence.
Linus Ullmark will start in goal for the Bruins, with Kyle Keyser serving as his backup.
Be sure to watch Bruins-Islanders on NESN. Pregame coverage will begin at 7 p.m. ET. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Here are the teams’ projected lineups:
BOSTON BRUINS (14-8-2)
Taylor Hall–Charlie Coyle–David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk–Jack Studnicka–Oskar Steen
Erik Haula–Tomas Nosek–Nick Foligno
Jesper Froden–Curtis Lazar–Karson Kuhlman
Derek Forbort–Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk–Brandon Carlo
Mike Reilly–Connor Clifton
NEW YORK ISLANDERS (7-12-5)
Anthony Beauvillier–Brock Nelson–Josh Bailey
Anders Lee–Jean-Gabriel Pageau–Kyle Palmieri
Kieffer Bellows–Zach Parise–Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin–Casey Cizikas–Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech–Scott Mayfield
Zdeno Chara–Noah Dobson
Andy Greene–Robin Salo