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B's Lines Could Get Shakeup for Game 3

Pastrnak skated with Coyle, Johansson during Monday's practice

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - As he met with the media following practice on Monday afternoon, Bruce Cassidy was not yet ready to reveal which line David Pastrnak would play with during Game 3 in Columbus. He was, however, prepared to disclose which line the winger would not be seeing time with.

"I'm not gonna play him with Kuraly, I'll let that cat out of the bag, but he could end up with any one of the other ones," Cassidy quipped.

Pastrnak has alternated between the top two lines throughout the playoffs and even saw time with Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson at points during Game 2. And it was with Boston's third line that he practiced during Monday's session at Warrior Ice Arena, signaling that Cassidy may have a shake-up in store with the B's series against the Blue Jackets knotted at a game apiece.

"He played some with Johansson and Coyle the other night," said Cassidy. "He has not practiced with them, I don't think, ever. So if we're gonna go down that road, it wouldn't hurt to get him some reps. We'll make that decision tomorrow. We've moved our wingers around anyway, so he could end up with Bergy, Krech, or Coyle."

Video: Cassidy discusses the lineup and benefit of rest

Should he get a look with Coyle and Johansson, Pastrnak would add a much different element than the others (David Backes, Danton Heinen, Karson Kuhlman, and Chris Wagner) that have seen time in that slot so far this postseason. With Coyle and Johansson buzzing offensively, Pastrnak adds even more speed and skill to a duo that has combined for eight points (four goals, four assists) over the last three games.

"He's the most high-end creative talent of those guys," said Cassidy. "You might see a little more line-rush play as a result of that than forecheck. We really like Charlie's puck possession in the O-zone, so Pasta's gonna have to find his spots there.

"It's just a matter of finding his spots, when Charlie likes to dish it. JoJo loves to make plays. To have a shooter over there should excite him. If that ends up a line, we'll see."

Pastrnak, who has struggled to find a groove thus far in the postseason, did break through while playing with Coyle and Johansson briefly during Game 2, when a Coyle feed banked off his skate and by Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for his third goal of the playoffs. It was his first tally since Game 4 of the Toronto series - when he potted two in under two minutes - but the winger is not worried about his lack of scoring.

"I think you guys [the media] are making a bigger picture out of it," said Pastrnak. "I'm just trying my best…at the end of the day, we are still winning and the series is 1-1. My focus is just to help the team every shift I step on the ice.

"I have to shoot more pucks, go to the net, hang onto the puck a little bit more. There's a million things you can always do better. Just try doing it [on Tuesday]."

Video: Pastrnak discusses new line and ways to find offense

With Pastrnak a possibility to shift down in the lineup, Wagner, who skated on Coyle's line for the past two games, could be the odd-man out. Kuhlman, a healthy scratch for Games 1 and 2 against Columbus, skated with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk during Monday's practice, a move that Cassidy believes could prompt more scoring opportunities.

"We liked [Kuhlman's] game, played well in Games 6 and 7 [against Toronto], helped us get some wins," said Cassidy. "We just went a different route early on, see how the series shakes out…he's played well for Krejci and DeBrusk. When he's on that line as opposed to Pasta, Jake's gonna look for his offense more, he's gonna shoot more.

"That's a little bit of the thinking. [DeBrusk] should be the primary goal scorer; when Pasta's over there, he's deferring. One of the reasons we put [Kuhlman] there originally is he's pretty straight line - even to get Krejci shooting more, to be honest with you. We may go back to that."

Cassidy also acknowledged that the possible insertion of Kuhlman into the lineup adds some fresh legs to a group that has played three overtime periods in two games, following their seven-game grudge match with the Maple Leafs in Round 1.

"I think when we're skating we're as good as any team in this league because we have grit, we have physicality, we have experience," said Cassidy. "I think we've got a good blend of scoring and defense. It's when we have our legs and we're checking well, skating, forechecking, attacking, I think we're a really good team.

"He does add some of that element, pace, to our game. That's what I've liked about him since Day 1 here. We want to be physical, but we also want to be able to skate. That's when we're at our best and that's what we're trying to get to."

Video: Johansson talks Pastrnak on his line

Here Comes the Boom

The Bruins are well aware of Nationwide Arena's longtime staple. They just hope they don't have to hear it very much.

The infamous cannon - introduced in 2007 - that fires a deafening blast just before puck drop and following every Blue Jackets goal has become quite the irritant for opposing teams, fans, and media that visit the building.

"The cannon wasn't there when I was there during the original days," said Sean Kuraly, an Ohio native who attended Blue Jackets games as a child. "It's a new thing, they're adding a little bit of a flare…the one in warmups will get you sometimes, right before the game, because you don't know it's coming. But after a goal you know it's coming."

Before his first game in Columbus in 2016, Pastrnak got a warning about the cannon from former coach Claude Julien. Unfortunately, the notice was lost in translation.

"It's their tradition. It's pretty cool," said Pastrnak. "I still remember my first game there, got a little bit scared…hopefully we won't hear it once. I had no idea what was going on. It was Claude back in the day…he said, 'Watch out for the cannon.' But I didn't know what that means."

Regardless of the cannon, Kuraly expects the atmosphere in Columbus, which is experiencing its first ever trip to the second round of the postseason, to be electric.

"They've got a great fan base and they're excited, as they should be," said Kuraly. "We're looking forward to playing that atmosphere. The cool thing is both teams get to play in it and feed off the energy."

Video: Ohio native Kuraly set to return home with B's

Powering Up

On the surface, a 25 percent success rate on the power play looks pretty good. But anyone who watched Game 2 knows that the Bruins' 1 for 4 performance on the man advantage was not up to their standard. So on Monday, they went back to work.

Cassidy, whose team is 1 for 8 in the series, put his charges through some lengthy power-play work towards the end of the on-ice session, which included full-ice and in-zone set ups.

"It is a big part of the game, especially games going into overtime. It has a big impact. You can win or lose games when it comes down to it. Last game I think they won the special teams battle and we have to get back to work on it," said Marcus Johansson, who pointed to the Blue Jackets' two power-play tallies in Game 2.

"It's been good for us for a long time. We just have to stay with it. We played one team for seven straight games that killed it one way and now we're playing a different team and there's maybe some adjustments that need to be made."

Both power play units remained the same:

PP1 | Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Torey Krug, Marcus Johansson.

PP2 | Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Charlie Coyle, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy

Monday's Practice Lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Danton Heinen
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - David Pastrnak
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
David Backes - Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton
John Moore - Steven Kampfer

Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

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