Why Bruce Cassidy Changed Bruins’ Defensive Pairings Ahead Of Game 2

Lindholm and McAvoy are no longer on the same pairing

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It only took one playoff game for Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy to shake up his lineup.

It comes within the defensive ranks as Cassidy split up his team’s top blue line pairing of Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm at Tuesday’s practice. Cassidy moved Matt Grzelcyk up alongside McAvoy while Lindholm will now play next to Brandon Carlo on the second pairing when the Bruins face the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

Grzelcyk had a tough performance in Boston’s 5-1 Game 1 loss Monday by posting a minus-3 while Carlo didn’t do much better as he came away with a minus-2. Those showings led in part to Cassidy quickly switching things up.

“I just thought (Grzelcyk) and Carlo had a bit of a challenging night,” Cassidy said as seen in team-provided video. “We talked about using Lindholm with Carlo at times as well. It also allows you then in game to put Lindholm and McAvoy together, maybe after they’ve sat a shift for (Derek) Forbort and (Connor) Clifton going over. So, you can still keep them as a pair. Once they’re always together, they’re together and that’s it.

“It might up (Lindholm’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. He can still go back to the other pair. He can play with both. (Grzelcyk) has played a lot of hockey with McAvoy. They’re a good pair. So, no concerns there for me of that kind of chemistry.”

By having McAvoy and Lindholm play on separate pairings, it could help the Bruins utilize their skill sets more effectively since they have a similar offensive approach.

“(Lindholm) is excellent on the breakout like Charlie is,” Cassidy said. “So, you got one in each pair that can be a one-man breakout as opposed to loading them up. … So, you’re taking from one to give to another and we’ll see how it works out.”

Boston takes on Carolina in Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday night at PNC Arena. You can watch the game on NESN with pregame coverage starting an hour before puck drop.

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