The Bruins are concluding their teambuilding activities today and will return to Boston. They will skate tomorrow morning at TD Garden, then travel to Washington to visit the Capitals tomorrow night.
They'll have one more tuneup on Wednesday before departing for Belfast. They are planning on taking approximately 26 or 27 players on the trip, meaning they will cut three or four bodies before departure.
While the upcoming games will affect the Bruins' personnel decisions, here's one guess at how the four lines shake out. We'll follow up with the defense and special teams.
* We'll kick things off with the locks at center: David Krejci (No. 1), Patrice Bergeron (No. 2), and Gregory Campbell (No. 4).
* Working backwards, let's fill in the fourth line around Campbell with Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. Last year, Paille saw spot duty higher up the depth chart because of his speed. He may very well get that opportunity again, but the Bruins have better offensive options than Paille currently. Thornton is in his usual spot on the right wing.
* Horton is the No. 1 right wing alongside Krejci. Good chemistry with Krejci in the 3-2 shootout loss to Florida. Milan Lucic also looked sharp on that line. But I'll go with Blake Wheeler alongside Krejci and Horton for now. Wheeler has played with Krejci before and can keep up with Horton. Also, Bergeron and Lucic have played together. Not much history between Bergeron and Wheeler. So we'll set a first line of Wheeler-Krejci-Horton, although Lucic-Krejci-Horton is a strong possibility.
* We'll put Lucic with Bergeron, then have Jordan Caron on the right side. Caron's been the most impressive rookie in camp. Had good chemistry with Bergeron in Montreal last week. He can play a two-way game. Caron is a natural right wing with no experience on the left side.
* As inconsistent as Michael Ryder was last year, there's no need to move him to be cap compliant before the start of the season. When he feels like skating like he did against Buffalo, Ryder can be valuable. Ryder locks down the right wing, moving Mark Recchi to the left side. Tyler Seguin is the most NHL-ready center and has the most potential among the group that includes Zach Hamill, Joe Colborne, Ryan Spooner, and Jamie Arniel. Seguin centers Recchi and Ryder, perhaps in reprisal of the Wheeler-Krejci-Ryder unit that had success two years ago against depth defensive pairings.
* Brian McGrattan stays as the 13th forward and spare muscle. Brad Marchand also a strong contender, but can be assigned to Providence without clearing waivers.