May 22, 2024

Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery unveiled the rationale behind altering the team’s lines during a practice session at Warrior Ice Arena, coinciding with Georgii Merkulov’s recall from Providence.

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Merkulov took up the center position on the third line, flanked by James van Riemsdyk and Trent Frederic, resulting in Danton Heinen’s move to the fourth line alongside Johnny Beecher, Jakub Lauko, and Oskar Steen.

Despite Merkulov’s impressive offensive performance in the AHL this season, registering 30 points in 31 games, Montgomery aimed to ensure a successful NHL debut for the emerging prospect. He emphasized the importance of placing Merkulov in a conducive role where he could get sufficient ice time and play alongside offensive talents.

Montgomery highlighted that thrusting a newcomer onto the first line might not be conducive, illustrating how even seasoned veterans might struggle when paired with top players like Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. He stressed the need for Merkulov to focus on his game rather than feeling pressured to adjust to an unfamiliar line.

Regarding Heinen’s role adjustment, Montgomery expressed satisfaction with Heinen’s performance in recent games, acknowledging his contribution despite potentially playing fewer minutes. He hinted that Heinen might not deserve to be on the fourth line based on his recent play, but emphasized the importance of embracing that role for the team’s benefit.

In the prior game against the Buffalo Sabres, Charlie Coyle was positioned as the center between Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, which resulted in Coyle netting two goals, supported by Marchand and DeBrusk’s assists.

Montgomery revealed that Morgan Geekie, playing center between David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha, maintained Boston’s top lines’ integrity during practice, indicating a possible solidification of the Bruins’ top six forwards.

With the rearranged lineup and Merkulov’s inclusion, the Bruins are set to face the Devils at TD Garden on Saturday night.

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