BOSTON - The Bruins' back end will a look a tad different on Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights after blue liner Jeremy Lauzon was recalled from Providence. The 22-year-old defenseman will take the place of John Moore, playing the right side with Matt Grzelcyk on Boston's third pairing.
"I think I just need to compete, play hard, I think that's what they want from me, obviously play simple," said Lauzon, who scored his first NHL goal against Vegas on Nov. 11, 2018. "Lately, I think I've been playing pretty good down in Providence so I'm excited to be here. I think I'm a physical player, I like to bring that edge to my game and I think I've been doing that down there. I've just got to bring that up here."
It's that exact kind of style that Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy would like to see more of from his defense corps. With Kevan Miller out since last April and Connor Clifton sidelined for the past few weeks because of injury, Boston's back end has lacked a bit of bite.
"Bigger body, harder to play against," Cassidy said of Lauzon. "Probably balances out some of our issues that we've been hoping to replace since Kevan left. Cliffy has given us some of that when he's been in - Johnny not quite as much as we'd like. We're gonna give Lauzy a shot. He's probably at that stage where he's put his time in in Providence and it's fair to say it's a good time to get a look at him and see where it goes."
Lauzon has suited up for one game with Boston this season, playing 15:40 against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 31. The 2015 second-round pick, who also played 16 games with the big club last season, has a goal and 12 assists with a plus-18 rating in 43 games for Providence this year.
"I want him to play to his identity," said Cassidy. "Even though he hasn't been here a lot, what it's been in Providence, this year especially, playing with a lot of bite, making a good first pass, adding a little offense from the O-zone blue line. He's going to be assertive there. Good PK behind [Zdeno Chara]. That's what we'll miss with Johnny out, he's been very good at that. We're hoping Lauzy can do that."
Cassidy also believes Lauzon - a left shot - is better suited to play his off-side than Grzelcyk and Moore, given his experience on the right in Providence and in juniors.
"He's been playing down in Providence, the last stretch of games on the right. He played his junior career on the right," said Cassidy. "I did think that both Grizz and Johnny were better on the left as well. That was an issue that maybe the pair didn't get the chemistry right away we were looking for.
"Lauzy will have some of those challenges, but he has played it. We've moved Grizz over there in the past and I think he does OK initially, but I just feel that he's better on the left with his transition."
To make room for Lauzon on the roster, Steven Kampfer was assigned to Providence.
Krejci A Game-Time Decision
David Krejci skated for the second straight day but has been termed a game-time decision for Tuesday's tilt against Vegas. The center has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.
"Felt good yesterday, felt good again today," said Krejci. "Pretty happy about that…I've got to go talk to the [medical staff] and see what's best for me…I want to play, but this break is great. It's going to help for sure."
Krejci acknowledged that the Bruins' upcoming nine-day break for the All-Star Game and bye week is coming at a good time for him and the team.
"Looking forward to it, but obviously we have one more game tonight," said Krejci. "Get that done and then we can enjoy the break…I think we'll have 30ish games after, so it will be nice to get away from hockey for a little bit and recharge the batteries, come back excited.
"It's been a grind so far, but I think we put ourselves in good position in the standings, so we'll definitely enjoy the break after this game and come back excited…that's when hockey is the most fun, down the stretch, battling for the playoffs."
The Golden Knights are closing out a four-game road trip that has seen them drop two of the first three, including a 5-4 shootout loss in Montreal on Saturday night. Vegas is also two games into the tenure of head coach Pete DeBoer, who was hired after the firing of Gerard Gallant on Jan. 15.
Overall, Vegas is 25-19-7 (57 points), placing them first in the Western Conference Wild Card standings. The Golden Knights are paced up front by Max Pacioretty (21-26-47), Mark Stone (17-28-45), and Reilly Smith (20-19-39).
Marc-Andre Fleury mans the pipes for Vegas with a 19-11-4 record, 2.85 goals against average, and .906 save percentage.
"Two games with a new coaching staff, it's hard to sit here and say they've changed a lot," said Cassidy. "They've won one game, the other one went into overtime…I suspect you'll see a lot of the same. I don't know if they practiced…maybe started implementing some things.
"We'll have to keep an eye on that…typically at this time of the year, you just want your team to play hard and compete and that's what we expect tonight."
Wait, There's More
Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal. As such, the pregame ceremony honoring Halak for playing in his 500th NHL game earlier this season will be postponed. The ceremony will be held some time in February when Halak is not the starting goaltender.
Tuukka Rask took part in an optional morning skate on Tuesday but remains on injured reserve after suffering a concussion on Jan. 14 in Columbus.
Kevan Miller, out since last April with a knee injury, skated on his own again on Tuesday morning. He resumed on-ice activities over the weekend and appears to be moving toward a return to play.
"I know what it looks like when he's healthy, I've seen it, lived it, been here," Cassidy said of his D corps. "We feel it's pretty strong. That is an element we've tried to replace. I think we've done a good job with it to be where we are. But we also know when Kevan's on, if he is healthy and back - there's a lot that has to go into that.
"He hasn't played for a long time. That's why I don't want to get ahead of myself. But if he gets back to where he was, then we feel that we're aligned really well to match up all three pairs against anybody."