How Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy put together his third line

Matt Kalman
April 11, 2019 - 2:01 pm

The last time Marcus Johansson faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup playoffs, he stuck two daggers in them.

The Bruins wing, then with Washington, scored the game-tying and game-winning goals against Toronto in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first round to eliminate the Maple Leafs in 2017.

Two years later, Johansson is hoping to repeat that success in black and gold. The Bruins and Maple Leafs start their Eastern Conference first round series Thursday at TD Garden.

“I mean it was a while ago, but definitely got some good memories for it,” Johansson said. “But you know, new teams, both I think two different teams, and new series. So I’m excited for it. It would be fun with a similar ending, but it’s going to be fun.”

Johansson had 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 48 games with New Jersey before the Bruins traded two draft picks for him on Feb. 25. He had just three points (one goal, two assists) in 10 games for Boston, but also missed 10 games after a hit by Carolina’s Micheal Ferland left Johansson with a bruised lung.

Although coach Bruce Cassidy said Johansson “doesn’t really have chemistry with anybody” because he played so few games since the trade, down the stretch Johansson and fellow trade pickup Charlie Coyle seemed to be meshing. Johansson and Coyle will be together with Danton Heinen on right win to start Game 1 against Toronto.

Heinen has played up and down Boston’s lineup all year.

“Allows us a little flexibility if we decide to change. What if [Karson] Kuhlman has a tough time his first game [playing with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci], so who goes out there? Generally ... Charlie Coyle was there, but we like him at center with [Sean] Kuraly out, so let’s take that one out.

“So it’s Johansson or Heinen can go up there as a right winger on their off side, and that would bump Kuhlman down. You know you’re still going to get some minutes out of him. So that’s one thought process of also using Danton is that he can move around to different spots. And he’s played up with the different players.”

For more of Cassidy's take on Johansson's play see the video above.

Regardless of what line he’s on, Johansson is going to have to produce in the postseason for general manager Don Sweeney’s trade to be considered a success. The 28-year-old thinks he’s ready for to perform the way he did two years ago when he singlehandedly ousted the Maple Leafs.

“I mean the last couple of games felt good, I think especially the last one. I felt like myself again more. So it’s been good, I think you know. And after a few days of practice, I’m ready to go,” he said.

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