BOSTON - Trade deadline acquisition Drew Stafford is set to suit up in his first game as a Bruin on Saturday night, when Boston hosts the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.
Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. EST (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena marked Stafford's first full skate with the team.
"It definitely helps to get out with the boys, especially considering [Friday] was more of an optional skate," said Stafford, who will be wearing No. 19 with Boston. "So to get somewhat of a practice, a little bit of structure, talk to the coaches about some system stuff and we'll do some video tonight, and be ready to go."
During pregame skate, Stafford played on a line with Ryan Spooner at center and Frank Vatrano on the left wing.
"He's a guy that finishes well and goes to the net. He can make plays. I think he could be - on paper - a good fit for that line," Cassidy said of Stafford. "If you look at what Vatrano does well, and Spoons, they play with speed and it will force him to keep up, but I think he's guy that will finish plays that those guys will make for him."
"He'll go the net, and I think it's important for someone - Frankie goes to the net clearly, and if Frankie's shooting, you need someone there, and Spoons is usually the guy dishing it, so I think it could be a good fit for him. It's a way to get into the lineup."
"He may move around. Again, this is a new piece to the puzzle, and we'll see where he fits," said Cassidy.
Since Stafford played nearly a decade with the Buffalo Sabres, he's made many trips to Boston through the years.
"It's actually - it's been really easy. I've played here enough over the years, that I'm kind of familiar with surroundings a little bit," said Stafford. "Everybody, from management on down, has been extremely helpful, and some of the guys have been driving me around a little bit, showing me some of the areas, and filling me in with some stuff, so everyone's been really helpful and accommodating so far, so that's been really smooth."
Video: Stafford to make Bruins debut against Devils
Keeping Players Engaged
Wingers have been rotating in and out of fourth line duty recently. For Saturday's game, there will also be a swap on the third line, with Stafford slotting into the spot that Jimmy Hayes has occupied for the past few games alongside Spooner and Vatrano.
"He's played very well for what we've asked him to do," Cassidy told reporters, when asked about how to keep Hayes engaged. "That line has been a positive line for us - they've scored some goals, they've kept the puck out of their own net, they've limited chances against for the most part, and he's done a good job of just making a switch."
"Do we want more production from Jimmy? Yes. Do we want more production from every line? If we can get. That was what was addressed to him - we're going to put Stafford in, and Monday's a new day, we'll see how it all shakes out."
"And it's no disrespect to Jimmy's game - he's done what we've asked him for the last three games, but we've also said, with some of the players we try and create some competition, and with a new guy coming in, that's what it does, so we hope that everyone elevates their game a little bit and wants to be the guy that's in, not out, and Jimmy's no different in that regard."
Khudobin to Start
Tuukka Rask will get a night off on Saturday, with Anton Khudobin starting between the pipes.
The netminder has picked up two straight wins in his last two starts - a 4-3 victory on Feb. 11 over Vancouver, and a 4-1 win on Feb. 23 in Los Angeles. His bench boss is hoping he'll continue the strong play.
"Dobby's generally a good-natured guy, he's usually got a smile on his face and his personality is large and so that part of it, he might be hiding stuff inside that you don't always see, but just talking to him and watching him in games, he looks like he's enjoying it and playing with confidence and challenging shooters, and I don't see why it wouldn't be that way," said Cassidy. "When you win some games, and you're the goalie, you're going to have some confidence."
The plan is generally to get Rask a night off after every three or four games, but Cassidy said he's not locked into anything, and they'll assess as the season goes on, with less than 20 game to go in the regular season.
For Friday's pregame skate, Colin Miller and Kevan Miller swapped sides on their defense pairing, with Colin playing his off side (on the left). Both defensemen are right shots. Kevan has assumed the role on his off side since the pair has been together.
"We're going to look at it," said Cassidy. "It's an easy switch back. Colin has played some left, Kevan's career has been on the right side. Again, it's more about - is it better that way, or is better the other way? Sometimes you can do that in practice and sometimes you've got to just experiment in a game and find out. It's something I want to look at."
Projected Lineup vs. New Jersey March 4
(based on pregame skate lines and defense pairings)
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Backes
Peter Cehlarik-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano-Ryan Spooner-Drew Stafford
Tim Schaller-Dominic Moore-Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller-Kevan Miller
Starting Goalie: Anton Khudobin // Backup: Tuukka Rask
Projected Scratches: Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, John-Michael Liles, Joe Morrow