Jake DeBrusk’s absence from the Bruins’ lineup was scheduled to continue Sunday against Philadelphia and last at least through next weekend, according to coach Bruce Cassidy.
DeBrusk already missed the loss to Detroit this past Friday.
So with other forwards returning to health, Cassidy has decided to try Charlie Coyle on the wing instead of his regular spot as the third-line center against the Flyers at TD Garden. Coyle practiced with David Krejci and Danton Heinen on Sunday morning.
“Well, offense, right? Maybe Charlie will be a little more short-oriented now that he’s got a centerman that likes to dish,” Cassidy responded to a question about expectations for Coyle on the wing. “So someone on that line will have to shoot. That’s the one thing Jake always brings, he’s got a shot mentality. [He> makes plays, but he’s a shoot. Danton, it’s sort of 50-50. So as wingers they both got to understand you got to shoot the puck on that line when the opportunity presents itself.”
Coyle, who has five points (two goals, three assists) in 16 games this season, has averaged 1.81 shots per game this season and 1.75 shots per game for his NHL career. Throughout his career one of the knocks on Coyle has been his reluctance to shoot.
If he can shake that tag Sunday, it’ll soften the blow of DeBrusk’s lower-body injury for however long the left wing is missing.
“I think playing wing, usually you’re the first guy on the forecheck, and I think my game kind of comes out a little more,” Coyle said. “I can initiate body contact and get in there and win puck battles. Playing with a guy like Krejci, who’s a pass-first kind, and he can thread that needle pretty good, so you’ve got to be ready and have your finger on that trigger to just rip it. So that’s the mindset tonight.”
Joakim Nordstrom (infection) and Par Lindholm (upper body) seemed ready to return to the Bruins lineup and provide Cassidy with more depth. Nordstrom should be back in his usual spot next to Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. Lindholm looked ready to center Anders Bjork and Zach Senyshyn, a pair of wings that had success with Coyle in a loss at Montreal last Tuesday.
David Backes (upper body) still hasn’t skated since clocking heads with Ottawa’s Scott Sabourin on Nov. 2. Cassidy said Backes continues to improve.