Bruce Cassidy Explains Lineup Changes On Defense For Bruins-Devils

Fans will get their first look at a pair of Bruins on Thursday


March 31, 2022

The Bruins lineup will look a tad different Thursday night when they host the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.

Boston will be without Craig Smith (illness) and Nick Foligno (lower-body) as it looks to get back in the win column after an ugly loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Marc McLaughlin, who signed an entry-level contract with the B’s out of Boston College on March 15, will make his NHL debut in place of Smith. Anton Blidh slots back into the lineup for the first time since March 16 as Foligno’s replacement.

When it comes to the blueline, both Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton will sit, while Mike Reilly and Josh Brown will be the third pairing. Brown, who was dealt to the Bruins from the Ottawa Senators at the NHL trade deadline, will make his B’s debut.

So, why the change on defense?

“We had discussed a while ago how to get all eight guys involved, they’ve been practicing together. I think that helps a little bit, keep them as a pair and then we’ll sort through as we go how it breaks after that,” head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after Thursday’s practice, per team-provided audio. “Cliffy had a tough night the other night, but they’d been good, him and Forbort, together for a while. Good stretch, good solid, consistent played within themselves hockey. So Forby gets an off night to keep the pairs on their right sides, etc., and get them both in.”

Cassidy also noted Reilly had been the odd man out due to the matchups the Bruins had and he thought Clifton and Forbort were faring just fine. There also always was an intention to get Brown some reps before the end of the season, and Thursday just so happens to be the night.

Puck drop for Bruins-Devils is set for 7 p.m. ET. Tuukka Rask will be honored in a pregame ceremony and will address the media at 5:30 p.m. You can catch all of the action on NESN.

Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images
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