MONTREAL — The chain reaction caused by the one-game suspension to Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic for tonight’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Montreal Canadiens is that Byron Bitz, a healthy scratch for the first two games, will dress, and Blake Wheeler will probably be bumped up a line.
Bitz took the morning skate today at Bell Centre and went through line drills with center Stephane Yelle and winger Shawn Thornton — two players he skated with for the bulk of his regular season. Wheeler skated on a line with center David Krejci and winger Michael Ryder.
“It’s not too bad. It’s a little different, I guess,” said Bitz when asked about his nerves on the day of his NHL playoff debut. “I’m sure around 7 o’clock tonight when I step out there it’s going to be a little different though. It’s just a matter of controlling that nervous energy and trying to use it in a good way.”
Bitz skated in the Bruins’ final seven regular-season games and 35 games total. Plugging onto a line he knows well should be a benefit.
“There’s definitely some familiarity there. We’ve played a lot of games together during the year and we have some cohesiveness,” Bitz said. “I like playing with those guys. Hopefully we can come be a factor tonight.”
Wheeler skated on the Yelle-Thornton line in Games 1 and 2. Now he’ll be back in a place that he had his most success during the season. Wheeler, Krejci and Ryder joined forces in late November and were probably the Bruins’ best line for the two months.
“I think we feed off each other well. We always play well together when we’re out there together,” said Wheeler, who is still looking for his first NHL playoff point. “So it should be exciting to get back out there with those two guys. They’re two really talented players and obviously it’s been great to play with them all year and hopefully we can carry that over into the playoffs.”