ST. LOUIS – Coach Bruce Cassidy believes having rookie Karson Kuhlman in the lineup over veteran David Backes gives his Boston Bruins a better chance of avoiding elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues.
Cassidy says Kuhlman’s more offensive-minded style is a better fit on center David Krejci’s wing because he wants to keep Boston’s effective fourth line of Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari together. It’ll be the first game action for Kuhlman since skating under 14 minutes in Game 3 of the second round against Columbus on April 30.
It’s the second consecutive healthy scratch for Backes, who played 10 seasons with St. Louis and was a longtime captain there. Scratching Backes to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for precautionary reasons in Game 5 Thursday with Zdeno Chara playing through a broken jaw made more sense.
Despite his struggles, it could turn out to be an unpopular move in the locker room to sit him in this crucial game in the arena he called home for so long. The 35-year-old forward is only signed for two more seasons and is running out of opportunities to capture the Stanley Cup that has been elusive for him.
“We’re here to win,” Backes said. “If my part’s grabbing the pom-poms again, I’ll shake those things `til all the frills fall out of them.”
Of course, Kuhlman also could be a hero _ or at least help get Krejci going. The Czech center who’s one of five Bruins players left from their 2011 championship team doesn’t have a point in this series.