Without Brad Marchand, Bruins shuffle lines for Winter Classic

Brad Marchand apologized to his team and the fans after getting suspended for a hit on Mark Borowiecki. The three-game suspension will cause him to miss the Winter Classic.

Foxborough, MA. — For most of the Boston Bruins, playing in the 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic will be a completely new experience.

Only captain Zdeno Chara, assistant captain Patrice Bergeron and forward Max Talbot played in the 2010 Classic between the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. Talbot was on Philadelphia’s side for that game.

Friday’s Classic will be the fourth one Talbot has appeared in. He’ll be centring the third line with Boston natives Jimmy Hayes and Frank Vatrano on his flanks.

But in the wake of forward Brad Marchand’s three-game suspension, it was the changes to Boston’s top line that made waves at Gillette Stadium Thursday.


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Loui Eriksson, who in the past has played on the right wing of centre Patrice Bergeron, will now play on the left. Seth Griffith (11 points in 31 NHL games) will play on the right after he was called up from the Providence Bruins two games ago following an upper-body injury to Boston’s leading point-getter, David Krejci.

“Bergeron is arguably the best two-way forward in the game and Loui’s a great two-way forward and a smart offensive guy,” said Griffith. “It’s always great when you get an opportunity to play with guys like that.”

Another player getting an opportunity in Marchand’s and Krejci’s absence is forward Alex Khokhlachev.

The Russian native has been a standout player in the AHL, scoring 128 points in 159 games for Providence since the 2012-13 season.

But Khokhlachev, who was drafted 40th overall in 2011 by the Bruins, has only appeared in eight NHL games and failed to register a point in any of them.

“I think I’ve started to feel better every game that I’ve played in the NHL,” said Khokhlachev. “I just have to keep going, I’ve got my chance. Show my best every game I play here.”

In order to bring Khokhlachev up, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney elected to send down the only player on his roster who wouldn’t have to pass through waivers, defenceman Colin Miller.

“Right now we’ve brought someone else in,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “I’m going to play the guys I have and our team needs to be a team.”

In net, Tuukka Rask, who is 4-14-3 against the Canadiens over his career, will start.

Rask carried the Bruins to a 3-1 win over Montreal in their last meeting on Dec. 9. It was their first regular-season win over the Canadiens in eight attempts.

“We knew we had our share of disappointments with this team,” said Chara. “So it was a big win for us, big two points. But, again, it’s a new game tomorrow, and we’ve got to bring what we brought there last time we played them and even more.”

Chara will anchor the blueline with veteran Dennis Seidenberg to his right. Torrey Krug and Adam McQuaid will make up Boston’s second pair and Joe Morrow and Kevan Miller will be on the third pair.

The Bruins are coming off a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Tuesday. A win in regulation in the Classic would put them one point ahead of Montreal in the Atlantic Division.

“We have to make sure that we, I guess, simplify our game,” said Julien. “Don’t complicate it. Try to minimize mistakes and understand that concept. We’ve seen a lot of outdoor games so far. We’ve seen different conditions, and no matter who you talk to, it’s always been the same thing. You try not to get too fancy out there, but you try to be efficient.”