Why Bruce Cassidy is sticking with same Bruins lineup for Game 7

Matt Kalman
April 23, 2019 - 12:31 pm

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t superstitious, he was just impressed enough by his team’s performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first round on Sunday that he doesn’t want to change anything for Game 7 on Tuesday.

So that means the same lineup from Sunday will take the ice against Toronto at TD Garden, and David Backes and Chris Wagner will be watching.

It has to be a difficult decision to sit Backes, who’s 3-0 in his career in Game 7s.

“Yep, Wagner as well, because we played well for us this year,” Cassidy said Tuesday. “We just felt with the lineup that we dressed the other night, we played our best game. I thought Game 2 was excellent for us, a response game more than an overall [performance]. I think it was definitely a really good game for us but as much a response to Game 1.

“I thought that Game 6 was our identity, our type of game, in terms of pace, physicality, finishing, all aspects of the game, special teams. So that’s probably the biggest thing that goes into the decision of some of the guys going in and out.”

The Bruins will line up like this:

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- Danton Heinen

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Karson Kuhlman

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

John Moore -- Matt Grzelcyk

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Acciari can thank his penalty-killing skills for keeping him in Boston’s lineup for this do-or-die game.

“I think it’s more about Kuraly and him can alternate who takes the draws on each side. So Kuraly will actually play the wing if the faceoff’s on the strong side,” Cassidy said. “I think Noel – we talked earlier about Wagner, Backes – we graded out Noel is the best penalty killer we feel of the three. So that’s another reason we bumped him to the wing. He can take draws, he’s physical like Backes and Wagner, he just has a bit of an advantage of the penalty kill part of it. And other than that it’s a tough call because they’re similar in their games. They’re physical, they’re good on the walls. Wagner’s killed more than Backes, more of a power-play guy. So that’s an idea why he’s ahead of them and he got pushed to the wing, because Kuraly can play in the middle. So that’s the biggest reason.”

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