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Nash Slides Up to Top Line with Bergeron Out

Veteran forward looking to complement Marchand, Pastrnak

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

DENVER - Riley Nash will attempt his best Patrice Bergeron impression on Wednesday night against the Avalanche, as the veteran forward slots in to center the B's top line alongside Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak with Bergeron still out with a lower-body injury.

"Those guys are pretty creative guys," Nash said following pregame skate at Pepsi Center. "If you can just be a guy that's consistent in the spot they know you'll be then I think that benefits them and they can use their skill and their talent to the best of their abilities. I think just try to get to the net and be outlets for them and try to be as Bergy-like as possible."

That being said, Nash - in the midst of his seventh NHL season - will not be trying to imitate Bergeron to a fault.

"I thought last game I had a better game and playing more straight-lined, being harder on pucks and getting in on the forecheck," he said. "If I can create turnovers on their D-men and on their forward for odd-man rushes the other way, I think that will benefit those guys. Get them the puck with space and a little bit of time.

"As we watched all last year, they're pretty talented guys, so their skill usually take over from there."

Last season, during his first campaign with Boston, Nash was a stalwart on the Bruins fourth line, teaming with Dominic Moore, Tim Schaller, and Noel Acciari to form one of the team's most dependable and consistent units. Despite their role not requiring much offense, Nash believes he is at his best when his creativity takes over.

"When I'm at my best, I'm thinking more about creativity and not inside the box, but trying to make plays, not just jamming down the wall and taking the easy way out," said Nash. "Easy way out might be the right play some times but keep your head up and make the right play, whether that be finding a guy through the seam or whether it be cycling down low, just making the right play when you have the time and space to make a play, you've got to take advantage of that.

"In this league it's obviously really fast now and those opportunities are few and far between."

Video: Bruins looking to turn tables on Avalanche

Bergeron Skates

Bergeron did take to the ice at the conclusion of Wednesday's morning skate for some skating and stick handling. He had been ruled out for the game against the Avalanche on Tuesday by Cassidy.

"He's out there testing it again, there's not a lot of newness to report on it," said Cassidy. "Obviously we'll see how he reacts to being on the ice today. If it goes well, he'll go out again tomorrow and continue on that path until he's ready to go.

"Not a lot of news on it that I can give you other than that he's back out there giving it a whirl."

Cassidy did say that Bergeron would skate again on Thursday in Arizona if he made it through without any issues.

"That's the plan if it goes well today," said Cassidy. "Again, I'll confirm that with the trainers. The team will be off - it's a scheduled day off - we will find ice for him if there's no ill effects from today."

Heinen Slots In

Danton Heinen will make his 2017-18 debut Wednesday night when he skates on the right side with Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly. Heinen played in eight games with Boston last season and was one of the final cuts during this year's training camp.

"He'll probably start there. That's the plan right now. He'll go with Kuraly and Schaller on the right side and see how that fits for him," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "I saw growth in his game…he showed that the last game in Chicago, he was winning puck battles below the goal line, making plays from there.

"That's the type of line they are, he'll add a little skill to that line, maybe a little finish. But shouldn't get in their way, either, in terms of playing a North-South game."

Heinen has played a top-six role for much of his collegiate and pro career - he had 44 points in 64 games for Providence last season - which means he will have to adjust slightly the way he plays on Boston's fourth line.

"Got to realize where I am in the lineup and just try to keep it simple and try to complement those guys in any way I can," said Heinen. "Just try to fill the role that I was put in, try to play with energy and keep it simple."

Face-off Fun

David Krejci has been among the handful of best face-off men in the league thus far, winning draws at 73 percent success rate through two games. As a team, the Bruins are leading the NHL with a 62.7 success rate.

"He's been real good in there, we've needed him to be good, obviously with Patrice out," said Cassidy. "He's stepped up and done a good job. The whole group did the other night; we were good in there. Maybe guys are just adjusting [to the new rules]."

Projected Lineup vs. COL

Here is Wednesday night's projected lineup based on morning skate:

Brad Marchand - Riley Nash - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Anders Bjork
Matt Beleskey - Ryan Spooner - Frank Vatrano
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Danton Heinen

Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller - Charlie McAvoy

Tuukka Rask

Scratches: Austin Czarnik and Paul Postma

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