Maybe the Bruins should try Sean Kuraly on the top line, and other thoughts
Thoughts and shots high off the glass following the Bruins’ 6-3 win over the Senators Monday in the home opener at the construction zone that is Causeway Street.
■ OK, let’s not belabor what Brad Marchand is not doing, particularly in light of the fact that he awoke Tuesday morn with a league-leading seven assists, but it’s almost comical that the Little Ball o’Hate landed only three shots on net in the first three games.
Linemates Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak delivered 24, connecting for 7 goals (29.2 percent).
Marchand is going to get his rips, and goals, but it almost doesn’t matter if the trio’s overall mechanics already have them with a robust line of 7-11—18. Also, not to be forgotten: The entire team stood 0-0—0 after the bizarre 60-minute pratfall in the season opener last Wednesday night in D.C.
Small sample though it may be, Marchand’s meager shot total does build a little more into the discussion of whether to bump Pastrnak over to David Krejci’s right wing and give someone else some ice time with Marchand-Bergeron. Marchand no doubt would be more compelled to shoot, and perhaps Pastrnak would tease more out of Krejci’s offensive game. Thus far, Krejci has been dormant (0-1—1, and only two shots on net).
And who would go to the Bergeron’s right side? The standard list of suspects would be Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, and the plug-him-in-anywhere $6 million center David Backes.
Your Faithful Puck Chronicler’s wild-card candidate: Sean Kuraly (I’ll wait for the chuckles to subside, thank you).
Right, got it, Kuraly doesn’t have first-line stick skills, so conventional wisdom drops him immediately to the bottom six. That’s exactly what everyone said around here about Marchand when he arrived: small, feisty, clever shot for a stocking stuffer . . . might get you something as part of a trade.
Hater alert: We’re not saying Kuraly is the next Marchand. But he has real legs, real size (6 feet 2 inches, 212 pounds), a nonstop motor, and an appetite to work and improve.
So why not drop him in there for a game or two and let him bang down the wing, snatch pucks along the wall and in the right corner, and tell him to make some mayhem around the net while Bergeron and Marchand do their symbiotic samba?
And if he fails? Then go back to the Donato-Heinen-Backes mix-and-match. One of them probably will get it done.
“A couple of lines tonight could have been better,” coach Bruce Cassidy said following Monday’s win. “They’re going to have to sort out their chemistry in their own end, how they are going to attack.”
Which, for now, likely will leave Kuraly between Chris Wagner and Noel Acciari, a line that played effectively against Ottawa. But it’s early, and Cassidy can afford to poke under the hood. Could be fun to see Kuraly set free on that top line, acreage that Cassidy referred to as a “garden spot.”
■ Injured defenseman Torey Krug was still shambling around in a walking boot with an ankle injury. The Bruins dearly miss him on the power play, his spot currently filled by Matt Grzelcyk.
Asked if it’s a big ask for Grzelcyk to fill that role, Cassidy said, “Yes and no. He wants to take control of it. Early on, I thought [he had] a couple of burps, but the ice was sticky tonight. The puck wasn’t sliding, for both teams.
“But he wants to take control and he wants to make the appropriate play. He’ll get better as he goes along. Torey’s going to be back, but he’ll mind the store pretty well in the meantime.”
Krug is expected to miss most of October. He led all Boston blue liners in production last season (14-45—59) and was tied for eighth with P.K. Subban for most points among defensemen leaguewide.
■ The top line aside, Cassidy is also examining whether to keep his defensive matchups the same: Zdeno Chara-Charlie McAvoy; John Moore-Brandon Carlo; Grzelcyk-Kevan Miller.
“Is he better with Miller?” offered Cassidy, pondering whether to make Moore and Miller a tandem. “And then Gryz with Carlo, that is something we are still sorting through.”
■ Not even a week into the season, and some big names are sidelined indefinitely, including Joe Thornton (San Jose), Brandon Dubinsky (Columbus), James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia), and Roberto Luongo (Florida). All were in their clubs’ opening night lineups. Collective average annual salary: $22.4 million.
■ Lost way deep in the weeds: Senators center Zach Smith won 15 of his 23 faceoffs Monday, an impressive 65 percent clip. Not bad for a guy abruptly dropped on waivers on the eve of the season. He has two more years at a $3.25 million average, and is trying to rebound off a poor 2017-18. Worthy catch for someone, especially if able to reduce the payout slightly in a swap.
■ You have the trained eye of an architect if you noticed that some of the brick being used on the Garden buildout along Causeway Street looks almost identical to the brick used in the old Garden that opened in November 1928. Not by accident. It’s a tribute to the old building, designed by boxing promoter Tex Rickard and originally opened as Boston Madison Square Garden.
■ If you want a Tough Mudder experience, try making a full loop of the upper bowl’s concourse during an intermission at a Bruins game. The concession stands, particularly for beer, are crushed. The restroom lines are long. There is some order in the chaos, but not much.