Bruins Coyle passes first test on second line – Lowell Sun
As he skated in his first exhibition game of the season, and first since offseason knee surgery, Charlie Coyle looked every bit the part of a second line center.
The Boston Bruins forward was calm, cool, and collected on the ice. But most importantly the East Weymouth native appeared healthy, which bodes well for the Black and Gold with opening night looming 10 days from now.
Coyle shined in the team’s final scrimmage, scoring a goal, and adding an assist, in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals, Oct. 6 at TD Garden.
“It’s still a work in progress,” said Coyle, 29. “I tried to do everything I can to have the strength, have the power in my stride with the limited time I’ve had. It’s still definitely a ways to go, but I’ll just keep working at it to get better.”
The 6-foot-4, 214-pound center appeared to be a nice foil for all-star sniper Taylor Hall, and fleet footed veteran Craig Smith. Hall’s powerful stride, coupled by Smith’s lightning-quick reflexes are something Coyle could get used to, after years on the checking line circuit.
“They’re two quick guys with different strides,” said Coyle. “Smitty is pretty quick and can stop on a dime. As far as acceleration. Hallsie just takes off. He has such a clean and powerful stride.”
So where does Coyle fall in that mix?
“I try to take bits and pieces from both of their strides and emulate it, but they’re two good guys to look up to in that aspect,” Coyle said. “I was just trying to keep up with those guys tonight. They pushed the pace pretty well, and that’s something that’s going to come with more practice time, more reps, but that was a start.”
According to Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy, he liked what he saw from his center and the second line overall.
“I thought Charlie was solid through the middle in terms of accelerating and kicking it out,” said Cassidy. “Playing north-south hockey I thought was good for them. They used their speed. Charlie was obviously able to keep up. There were some shifts where he was more fatigued than the other guys, for lack of game action, but I thought that was good for him.”
Normally a checking line player, Coyle has made the jump to the second line, following the departure of longtime center David Krejci. The Stanley Cup winning center returned to the Czech Republic following an illustrious 15-year career in Boston.
Those are big skates to fill, especially with rookie Jack Studnicka also rumored to be in the running for that coveted spot. But Coyle has always been up for those kinds of challenges.
His two-point night was a great mission statement in reasserting his presence in the lineup.
“You want to contribute, but I just wanted to make sure I was getting better, feeling better,” Coyle said. :”I obviously want to contribute more, but I want to be well-rounded as well in all three zones. That’s going to come with more practice time, and of course once we start playing real games, but that was huge to get that (goal) to get my mind right on everything and test the waters.”