Based on Saturday’s workout in Brighton, it looks as though both Erik Haula and Jake DeBrusk, projected to log a heavy load of third-line duty going into the season, both will be bystanders Sunday night when the Bruins face the Canucks at the Garden.
The new third line, if coach Bruce Cassidy keeps to his practice schematic, will have Trent Frederic in the middle, his preferred position, flanked by veteran Nick Foligno and the ever-willing Karson Kuhlman.
“Looking at different combinations,” said Cassidy, who heavily hinted of some changes Friday in the immediate wake of a 5-2 loss to the Rangers. “We like to reward the effort players.”
Cassidy, in his understated way, was blunt in his assessment of both Haula and DeBrusk. He wants more effort from both. Third-liners typically are excused from having to put up points — though all contributions gladly accepted — but effort, focus and attention are musts.
Haula and DeBrusk have proved too spotty in those energy categories, and a move to the press box is standard practice for most coaches to get wandering minds and efforts back on track.
“I just think [Haula’s] game right now, you know, we need more compete out of him,” said Cassidy of the forward, who landed but one shot and finished –2 vs. the Rangers. “He was signed to anchor that line and it hasn’t worked out as well as we’d like.”
Later in his offday presser, Cassidy noted DeBrusk needed to be more alert on New York’s third goal, Julien Gauthier dishing in from right wing for what proved to Artemi Panarin’s game-winner.
“Working back,” mused Cassidy as he retraced the myriad breakdowns leading to Panarin’s strike that made it 3-2, “if Jake keeps skating, maybe Panarin doesn’t make that play or he intercepts it.”
Overall, though only with six points in 17 games, DeBrusk’s has been better than Haula’s over the first six weeks of the season. But, again, they too often have been short on moxie, and it now appears the Foligno-Frederic-Kuhlman trio will get their chance to deliver the needed ingredient.
Ullmark pads his tribute to new city
Linus Ullmark, expected between the pipes vs. the Canucks, unveiled some new leg pads in practice. Each one has a Boston cityscape clearly visible horizontally across the bottom.
“I wanted to do something connected to Boston,” explained the ex-Sabres starter, signed here to a four-year, $20 million free-agent deal in the offseason. “And instead of going with a Boston logo, or Bruins logo, I kind of went with the skyline instead, and I think it turned out great.”
The same cityscape already could be found on Ullmark’s helmet, blocker, and catching glove.
Ullmark, 4-3-0 with a 2.87 GAA and .908 save percentage, was supposed to make the last two starts (Buffalo, Rangers), but exited the lineup unexpectedly after Wednesday’s day-of-game workout in Buffalo with an injury.
The Bruins have yet to see Ullmark or rookie Jeremy Swayman establish a consistent winning rhythm. Cassidy believed a big save by Swayman in he final second of the first period Friday would have snuffed out Ryan Strome’s goal and the game’s outcome might have been different had the Bruins been able to carry a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
If Ullmark could play well Sunday, it’s possible Cassidy would bring him back Tuesday night at home vs. the Red Wings.
“With Linus, there’s still some unknowns,” Cassidy said. “He’s a good goalie in this league, we know that. How good remains to be seen . . . let’s get him in there, let’s get him stopping pucks, winning games and everyone will be happy.”
Frederic back from concussion
Frederic, a paltry 0-1-1 in 10 games, exited the lineup Nov. 9 vs. Ottawa when he sustained a concussion upon knocking the back of his head against the ice.
“My vision got funky,” he said. “The hit was fine, but I hit my head and when I went to skate, the lights went down.”
Frederic, 22, noted that it was nearly three years before, virtually to the day, that he suffered a concussion while with Providence.
Despite the heightened concerns about concussions, and the potential dangers they can present long term, Frederic didn’t sound concerned.
“Not really,” he said. “I mean, I’ve gone 23 years of my life, playing football, baseball, hockey, and I’ve gotten two. If it happens, it happens, but it’s not really going to affect how I play or what I do out there.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.