How Charlie Coyle is affected by David Krejci’s absence and other Bruins notes

Matt Kalman
October 17, 2019 - 12:38 pm

The Bruins will finally dig into the divisional part of their schedule against the teams that are their stiffest competition for first place in the Atlantic Division, the Tampa Bay Lightning at home Thursday and then Toronto Maple Leafs on the road Saturday and at home Tuesday.

But they’re going to have to start this difficult stretch without center David Krejci, who will miss the Lightning game with an upper-body injury he suffered Monday against Anaheim. Krejci’s status is also up in the air for at least the first Maple Leafs game.

“Krech is out,” coach Bruce Cassidy said after an optional morning skate Thursday. “Didn’t respond to treatment as well as we’d like. So we’ll see how he is tomorrow and then make a determination for Saturday, first if he skates, then travels obviously.”

With Krejci out, Par Lindholm gets back into the lineup after sitting out the past four games. Charlie Coyle will take over as the second-line center, pairing with Krejci’s usual left wing Jake DeBrusk. To start Brett Ritchie will get to play on the right side of that line, but the master toggler Cassidy promised there will be line juggling depending on how the game goes.

Clifton’s back

Cassidy expanded on his reason for sitting Connor Clifton and playing Steven Kampfer against the Ducks, beyond the initial explanation that Kampfer was being rewarded.

“I thought Clif’s had good moments and average moments, kind of like Steve. Like you need to continue to grow and I think his practice habits weren’t good enough either to be honest with you. Some days where he was behind,” Cassidy said.

Clifton will return to the lineup against Tampa Bay, replacing Kampfer. The rookie said watching the Ducks game from the press box gave him perspective, and he understood Cassidy’s decision.

“Yeah I think I’ve been OK. No, I haven’t been my best, but it’s been OK, we’re winning games, obviously we have a really good team,” Clifton said. “Kamps got in there, he’s been good in practice all the time and I’m back in tonight, so worrying about that.”

More faceoffs for Wagner

Through six games forward Chris Wagner has taken 31 faceoffs (winning 13), a pace of a little more than five per game. That’s a lot more than the 1.58 per game he took last season.

What gives?

“I talked with him about that this summer, if he’s going to play with [Sean> Kuraly and it’s on the other dot, he’s a strong-side forehand, so I’ve given him the option to kind of talk to Kuraly about it,” Cassidy told WEEI.com. “I think in the past Kurls just went in, wanted to take them. I think Wags is now maybe flexing his muscles a little, saying, ‘hey, let me take a few of them over there.’”

Wagner (41.93 percent) and Kuraly (47 percent) haven’t gotten off to a great start at the dots this season, although the official stats can be misleading. Nonetheless the new NHL rule that allows the opposition to pick the side the faceoff will be held following an icing or at the start of a power play makes it more important to have a player on the ice that can take it on either side. Kuraly’s been adequate on his off, the right, side but if he’s going to slump or not feeling it on a particular night, he can defer to Wagner.

“We were talking about it too, when he starts on that side, he can cheat and if he gets kicked out it’s all good, right. So kind of things like that. I think we’re figuring it out a little bit,” Kuraly said.

Wagner estimated he’s played center for a third of his NHL career, so he has plenty of experience taking faceoffs and he’s always participated in post-practice faceoff sessions. Now it’s just a matter of finding his rhythm and it’ll be difficult to beat the Bruins’ fourth line at the dots or on the penalty kill regardless of the side of the ice.

“Just for me … if I start focusing on more what the other guy is going to do, then I feel like I take myself out of the equation kind of. Kind of just focusing on the ref dropping the puck more than anything,” Wagner said. “And breathing, because you want to win it so bad and you’re bearing down, you kind of get stiff. So kind of a mixture of that, you kind of go through in your head before you take it. And then trying to take more and more as the game goes on.”

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