Charlie Coyle is no longer on the COVID list.
The center from Weymouth returned to the Bruins lineup on Friday, after missing Wednesday’s game against the Capitals because of COVID protocol. The team did not elaborate on the specific reason for his absence.
Being on the COVID list does not mean a player has the virus. A player can be placed on the list because of, among other factors: an initial positive test that is not confirmed, isolation for symptoms, quarantine because of exposure to COVID-positive individuals, travel quarantine, and of course, a confirmed positive test.
Coyle, who scored a pair of goals in his previous game (last Sunday against the Rangers), centered the third line of Trent Frederic and Craig Smith. He was looking for offensive traction.
He went 10 games without a goal, from Jan. 26 to Feb. 21, before he scored against the Flyers in Lake Tahoe, and entered Friday with a 5-3—8 line in 19 games.
His return made a scratch out of Sean Kuraly, who sat for an undisclosed reason. In Wednesday’s shootout loss to Washington, Kuraly committed a turnover that led to the Capitals’ third-period equalizer.
So what is Trent Frederic at the NHL level, exactly?
The Capitals might answer with a few choice words.
Is he a bottom-six center? A physical winger? Is he a power-play option down the road?
A lot will depend on his offensive development.
Frederic entered Friday’s date with the Caps with two goals and one assist in 37 games. He was riding left wing on a 24-and-under third line, with center Jack Studnicka and right wing Jake DeBrusk.
Coach Bruce Cassidy is trying to find the right fit for Frederic, who was a solid producer in his two years at Wisconsin (65 points in 66 games) and less reliable in Providence (65 points in 127 games). He is a center moved to wing, not unlike Studnicka, another natural center who flipped to wing and back. More north-south will benefit Frederic.
“As a centerman, you’re trying to get pucks to your wingers,” Cassidy said. “As a winger, sometimes you’re getting pucks in different places, especially on the rush. You’re kind of a last-touch guy before it goes to the net. He was trying to make that extra play.”
Down low, he’s learning how to protect the puck, and sorting out whether defenses are in a zone or a man scheme, how much time he has if he beats the first defender.
“What he can get away with,” Cassidy explained. “What kind of power moves he can use to get to the net, and how hard to have to shoot to get the puck on the net a lot of times. If a goalie’s set and seeing it, no matter how good a shot you have sometimes, he’s still going to save it.”
In other words, Frederic shouldn’t be living off his Lake Tahoe goal, which came on a tumbling shot from the top of the circle. That was a misplay by Philadelphia’s Carter Hart.
“Sometimes guys come up and they have a good stretch of two or three games and they think, ah, I’ve made it. That’s not the case. It’s hard to stick in this league,” said Cassidy, who played 36 games over six NHL seasons (all with Chicago). “It takes a lot of work. I like the fact he’s matured in that part, at least. He’s trying to grow his game.”
If Frederic’s offensive game develops to the point he is needed on the power play, where would his strengths lie? That’s another TBD.
“Did it grow because he’s good in tight in front of the net and can outmuscle guys, recover pucks, and take them to the net?” Cassidy pondered. “Did his offensive game grow because he’s able to hit the net continuously with his shot, and be a threat that way? If it’s the latter, he probably looks at being a bumper guy. I don’t know that Trent would be an elbow guy. I don’t want to rule that out, but I’d say more interior ice.”
That means tips, puck recovery, using his muscle. At this level, he will have to grow into it. He’s certainly willing, as Capitals tough guy Tom Wilson has noticed.
“Yeah, that was a little weird,” Wilson said Friday morning, of Frederic’s targeting of Alex Ovechkin in Wednesday’s game. “I think if it was the other way there probably would have been a lot more attention drawn to it per se, if one of our guys was going after their stars or something like that. It’s probably a game within the game. I like to give him the benefit of the doubt, a young guy coming into the league dropping the gloves with a star.”
The Bruins used the same defensive pairings as Wednesday, with Jarred Tinordi and Connor Clifton on the third pair … The Bruins said season ticket holders, game plan purchasers, and Boston Garden Society members will get first dibs on tickets when TD Garden is opened to a limited number (12 percent capacity) of fans on March 23 against the Islanders. The team is directing fans interested in tickets to NHL.com/Bruins/Tickets. The new procedures for entering the building can be viewed at TDGarden.com/PlayItSafe.