Need to Know: Bruins vs. Blue Jackets

“We’ll continue to work to try to get him in the lineup. He played well the other night…he’s not out of the lineup because he didn’t play well. We’ve just got other guys back in that have spots those in Craig Smith,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of McLaughlin.

“He’s obviously eligible for Providence so he may end up there. We want to get him in a few games here to get a look and see if he could help us. We’ve seen [Oskar] Steen, we’ve seen [Jesper] Froden. [Chris Wagner] is in that mix too. He hasn’t been up but we know his game and we get reports from there.

“This is just a guy that we don’t know as well that can move into the middle as well. I think having him here for our sake is more beneficial right now. If it gets to the point where he’s not playing enough games and needs to play, then he’ll go down there.”

On the back end, Cassidy is once again going with a different look on his third pair as Derek Forbort will be back in after sitting out as a healthy scratch against the Devils, while Mike Rilly will shift to the right side after a strong showing in his return to the lineup on Thursday.

“I think he was just trying to play a grittier, more determined game defending,” Cassidy said of Reilly, while also lauding his willingness to step up in defense of Charlie McAvoy following a heavy hit from Miles Wood in the first period against the Devils.

“I just saw a guy that wants to get back in and stay in, in all areas of the game – trying to close gaps quicker in the neutral zone, something we’ve been on him on, to try to move his feet, to kill some plays, getting back on the puck first touch if necessary.

“I think his puck play will always be good. He sees the ice well. That’s not going anywhere. But to get him to round out his defensive game in those areas I just talked about is something we’ve been trying to encourage him to do.”

Video: Cassidy gives updates before B’s host Blue Jackets

Reilly said that he sees himself as an “everyday player” and will do whatever it takes to stay in the lineup, including shifting to his off side, something he has done at various points throughout his career.

“I played it quite a bit in college and kind of sporadically throughout my pro career a little bit,” said Reilly. “Obviously, there’s some adjustments made in the neutral zone and D-to-D passes. But I think there’s definitely some advantages to it, especially in the offensive zone as well.”

“I definitely think I can [embrace it]. If they need me to play the right side, I definitely am willing to do it. I’ve done it before a little bit. I just think with more repetitions and practice, it will just get better and better.”

Reilly will be taking the spot that was occupied by newcomer Josh Brown on Thursday night. Brown, who did participate in Saturday’s morning skate, left the game against the Devils with an upper-body injury in the second period. The 6-foot-5 blue liner fought Devils defenseman Mason Geertsen just 2:56 into the contest.

“He’s feeling better, skated today, so I suspect he’ll be available Monday or Tuesday,” said Cassidy. “When you have new people on board, you want to get them involved, otherwise you risk them feeling like an outsider. Brownie’s in that category. I want to play him.

“Whether he outplays a Reilly, Forbort, Clifton remains to be seen. It’s good to have competition. It’s like McLaughlin when he came in. We wanted to get him in a at some point.”

Jeremy Swayman will start between the pipes for the Bruins.

Video: Reilly meets with the media at WIA

Here’s everything else you need to know ahead of the 7 pm puck drop on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub:

Starting a New Streak

After eight straight games without a goal, Jake DeBrusk has scored in three consecutive contests (3-1-4), including what proved to be the winner in Boston’s 8-1 victory over New Jersey on Thursday night. The winger was a force against the Devils and in addition to his nifty first-period tally, made a strong feed to Brad Marchand on his first goal, before delivering a heavy hit on Devils defenseman Ty Smith on the forecheck ahead of Marchand’s second goal a few moments later.

“It’s big. That’s playoff hockey right there. Jake has found his game, it seems to be a weight lifted off his shoulders,” Marchand said of DeBrusk’s play since the trade deadline. “I think he’s just happy to be here and the stress of everything out of the way for right now. He’s been playing better and that is the type of hockey we’re gonna need going forward.

“When you look at the teams around the league that are in playoff positions, especially in the East, obviously teams that we’re gonna see first, they’re big, they’re heavy, the D are tough and they compete hard.

“We’re gonna have that every single night moving forward. It’s something that we have to establish every night.”

Video: NJD@BOS: DeBrusk cashes in Bergeron’s rebound

Opposing View

Sean Kuraly, who spent the first five seasons of his career with the Bruins, will play at TD Garden for the first time since joining his hometown Blue Jackets as a free agent over the summer. The 29-year-old has set career highs in goals (11) and points (24) in 68 games this season.

“I walked here and had trouble getting into the building. I didn’t want to come in the way you’d come in as a home player here. It was difficult to get in…I didn’t want to end up in the B’s locker room,” Kuraly, speaking with the reporters on Saturday morning at TD Garden, said with a chuckle. “I think I’m excited. I’ve got a lot of good memories on this ice with a few of the teammates that are still here.

“I really enjoyed this city…good memories. I’m excited for it, keeping in mind that it’s two points that we’re trying to get and there’s a job to be done – but realizing it’s there to be enjoyed.”

The Blue Jackets (32-31-5, 69 points) have lost five in a row and six of their last seven, dropping behind the Islanders by two points in Eastern Conference Wild Card standings and 15 points back of Washington for a playoff spot.

Elvis Merzlikins will get the start between the pipes for Columbus. Zach Werenski and Boone Jenner are both injured and will not play for the Blue Jackets, while head coach Brad Larsen will also miss the contest as he remains in the COVID-19 protocol.

Associate head coach Pascal Vincent will man the bench for Columbus.

Video: Bruins host CBJ, to honor Foligno before game

Honoring Foligno

Before the game, Foligno, the longtime captain of the Blue Jackets, will be honored for playing in his 1,000th NHL game last month when the Bruins visited the Chicago Blackhawks. Foligno played 599 of those games with Columbus, and while he has only suited up for 49 games in the Spoked-B, his impact – on and off the ice – has been significant.

“I came up about 900-some odd short of it,” said Cassidy. “I have a lot respect how hard it is to play in this league and play consistently and be effective consistently to stick around. Good for Nick. He’s a great guy. He’s new here but you can tell why he’s so popular in dressing rooms. Just a fantastic guy.

“Very happy for him, his dad…he should be proud of it and I think he is. He realizes, especially as you get older, how much work it’s taken to get there and obviously talent.”

Saturday’s Projected Lineup

FORWARDS

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jake DeBrusk

Taylor HallEric HaulaDavid Pastrnak

Trent FredericCharlie Coyle – Craig Smith

Nick FolignoTomas NosekCurtis Lazar

DEFENSEMEN

Hampus Lindholm – Charlie McAvoy

Matt GrzelcykBrandon Carlo

Derek Forbort – Mike Reilly

GOALIES

Jeremy Swayman

Linus Ullmark

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