Bruins Roster Projection 4.0: Predicting Boston’s Opening Night Lineup

Another day closer to Bruins hockey

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October 6

We’re less than a week away from the Bruins opening their 2022-23 season and the roster is beginning to take shape. Boston made some cuts this week and is expected to make another round sooner rather than later.

The Bruins played their final road preseason game Wednesday and came away with a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers. Fans saw David Pastrnak for the first time this preseason and watched the unmatched chemistry between him and David Krejci. We also got another look at Marc McLaughlin, who continued to have a strong camp, and Jack Studnicka, who may finally crack this Bruins roster.

We’ve rolled out three previous roster projections since the start of training camp, and with Opening Night just days away, we’re releasing our latest version of what we think the lineup will look like come Oct. 12.

But we’re going to do things a bit differently this week. Taylor Hall is dealing with an injury that head coach Jim Montgomery initially labeled as “week-to-week.” Montgomery told reporters Wednesday that the forward is “pushing it” and doesn’t want to be week-to-week. So with Hall’s status unknown, we’ll roll out two sets of forward lines.

FORWARDS (assuming Hall is healthy)
Pavel Zacha–Patrice Bergeron–Jake DeBrusk
Taylor Hall–David Krejci–David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic–Charlie Coyle–Craig Smith
A.J. Greer–Jack Studnicka–Marc McLaughlin

— The biggest difference from last week’s projection is the fourth line with Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek being left out.

Nosek, while showing signs of life at times during preseason action, hasn’t shown enough of late to keep Studnicka and/or McLaughlin out of this lineup. McLaughlin continued his strong camp in Wednesday’s preseason win with an assist and absolutely has earned a spot in the lineup.

Studnicka, too, has been playing exceptionally well. He’s been the odd-man out the last few seasons and is ready to receive consistent reps at the NHL level. The forward has taken hits throughout the preseason and never fails to get right back up. If the Bruins want to see what they truly have in their 2017 second-round pick, there is no better time than now to give him a legitimate shot in the NHL.

FORWARDS (assuming Hall is not ready)
Jake DeBrusk–Patrice Bergeron–Craig Smith
Pavel Zacha–David Krejci–David Pastrnak
Trent Frederic–Charlie Coyle–Nick Foligno
A.J. Greer–Jack Studnicka–Marc McLaughlin

— Montgomery told reporters he was “highly considering” flipping DeBrusk to the left side should Hall not be ready, and he did that during Wednesday’s win and it worked well.

“All options are on the table,” Montgomery told reporters. “Whether it’s a right winger or a left winger, we’re thinking about a lot of options to play with Bergy and JD. I actually talked to him during the morning skate (Wednesday) and we talked more about players and style of play of players that we think would help complement them the most.”

Montgomery also noted that players like Foligno and Smith could be options for the top line if Hall is unavailable. We went with Smith because he played on the top line a few times last season and has shown more promise than Foligno during camp.

— There’s no taking McLaughlin out of the lineup, and he’s played well with Studnicka when the duo is on a line together.

— The Czech line of Zacha, Krejci and Pastrnak showed incredible chemistry Wednesday, combining for eight points in the win at Madison Square Garden. So, it’s a given to keep them together if Hall isn’t ready for Opening Night.

DEFENSE
Hampus Lindholm–Brandon Carlo
Mike Reilly–Jakub Zboril
Derek Forbort–Anton Stralman

— Reilly looks like an entirely new player of late. Whether that’s due to a head coaching change or his ankle finally being 100% healthy after two years is up for debate, but he’s clearly playing to never be healthy scratched again.

— Stralman still is on a PTO agreement with the Bruins, but he’s been smooth with the puck and had a nice hit on Sammy Blais on Wednesday night.

GOALIES
Jeremy Swayman
Linus Ullmark

— Same old song and dance as our last three projections.

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Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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