In any of his first seven NHL seasons, Charlie Coyle did not score more than 21 goals. Part of the reason: He’s not an eager triggerman.
Playing with David Krejci was a chance to try his hand at it.
Coyle, who has found a role as a third-line center in Boston, was shifted to Krejci’s right wing for Sunday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Philadelphia. The continued absence of Jake DeBrusk and return of Par Lindholm put Coyle in that spot.
Coach Bruce Cassidy was hoping either Coyle or left wing Danton Heinen would be ready to finish Krejci’s silky feeds.
“Someone on that line will have to shoot,” said Cassidy, forever trying to coax more offense out of his depth scorers.
The ever-willing DeBrusk, who last played Tuesday in Montreal, could miss Tuesday’s game against Florida, Cassidy said. He is more likely to return for a road-home set with Toronto (Friday) and Washington (Saturday).
So this could be a multi-game promotion for Coyle, who did get an assist on Heinen’s goal Sunday night. He failed to put a shot on net for the fourth straight game, and has scored twice on 29 shots this season. That’s a 6.9 percent shooting percentage that would stand as a career low.
There is finishing talent there, though. Last postseason, he scored on 23.1 percent of his shots (nine goals on 39 shots). He did it in a variety of manners, mostly close to the net: three loose-puck cleanups, two tap-ins from Marcus Johansson setups, two empty-netters, a one-timer from the slot off a DeBrusk feed, and a short-side finish on a 3-on-2 feed from Johansson.
“I’ve never been a shoot-first kind of guy,” said Coyle, whose 82-game high is 159 shots, and was on pace for 148. “I think I need to do [it] more. I know I need to do [it] more.
“I think playing wing you’re that first guy on the forecheck. My game comes out a little more. I can initiate body contact and get in there and win puck battles. [Krejci] can thread that needle pretty good, so you’ve got to be ready, have your finger on the trigger and just rip it.”
Lindholm, who missed five games with an undisclosed upper body injury, filled Coyle’s spot as a third-line center between wingers Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn.
Fourth line reunited
The Bruins reunited their fourth line of Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly, and Chris Wagner for the first time in more than two weeks.
“It gets that glue line back together,” said Cassidy, happy to know he could “put them out there any time against anybody and they tend to get the game tilted back toward us.”
Nordstrom, whose infected elbow kept him out six games, was not allowed to sweat for about 10 days, he said, because of his condition. That meant a lot of time on the couch and in bed.
In last Friday’s snoozer in Detroit, Cassidy felt his team was missing the fourth line’s crash-and-bang, in a game that didn’t have the same spice as their previous two.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful to their crowd, it just wasn’t the environment like Montreal was, our home game against Pittsburgh. It was quiet in there,” Cassidy said. “We just couldn’t get ourselves going.”
The club discovered that winger Brett Ritchie, who was said to be ill, had an upper body injury. He was not present at the morning skate and missed his second game in a row . . . Nothing new on David Backes, officially listed as out with an upper body injury. He did not skate Sunday, and missed his fourth game in a row . . . John Moore (shoulder), yet to make his season debut, skated in a non-contact jersey. Fellow blueliner Kevan Miller (knee) had the day off . . . Winger Peter Cehlarik, too inconsistent for Cassidy’s liking, was ticketed for Providence. He skated a season-high 12:07 and recorded an assist in Detroit . . . Patrice Bergeron was officially awarded the goal that made it 3-2 in Detroit on Friday night. The scoring change removed a secondary assist from David Pastrnak. It snapped his scoring streak at 13 games, and pushed Pastrnak (15-15—30) back into a first-place tie with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (14-16—30) for the NHL scoring lead . . . Of goalies who have started 10 or more games, Philadelphia starter Carter Hart entered with the seventh-worst save percentage (.889). Since getting pulled after 28 minutes Oct. 27 at the Islanders, the 21-year-old had been better, allowing seven goals on his next 100 shots (.930).