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Billerica's Marc McLaughlin To Make Bruins, NHL Debut Vs. Devils

BOSTON (CBS) -- Thursday evening promises to be a significant moment for Marc McLaughlin.

The Billerica native will be making his NHL debut, and he'll be doing it with his hometown Boston Bruins.

McLaughlin will slot into the Bruins' lineup, due to an illness that will keep Craig Smith out of Thursday's game. That absence opens the door for McLaughlin to play his first NHL game at TD Garden, with the New Jersey Devils visiting Boston.

"Obviously a lot of different emotions. Definitely really excited, to say the least," McLaughlin said Thursday morning regarding his opportunity. "Obviously to get a chance to play in the NHL but to be wearing the Bruins sweater at the same time is really special."

McLaughlin said he wasn't sure exactly what the head count would be for his friends and family attending the game, but he estimated that number to be above 50.

McLaughlin will slide in to Smith's spot on the third line, along with center Charlie Coyle and left winger Trent Frederic. Head coach Bruce Cassidy offered a brief scouting report on the 22-year-old forward.

"In practice, very professional in his approach. Does everything hard. ready to go when it's his turn, and alert, focused. So that part's great," Cassidy said. "Shoots the puck very hard, and he passes the puck very hard. So he's got hard habits, for lack of a better term, which are gonna be required at this level. So let's see how he mixes in in a professional environment. We've asked him to just play his game. He had success in college for a reason, so stick with that and see how he kind of develops chemistry with his linemates and how his own individual game goes. He's played a lot of center, so he's going right wing, so the board work becomes an issue for those guys. But he's not the first guy to have to do that, and he has played wing, so it's not new to him. But his natural position is center, so at some point we may try to see how that looks as well."

McLaughlin scored 21 goals and had 10 assists in 33 games as Boston College's captain this past season. He signed with the Bruins earlier this month at the end of his college season.

Aside from McLaughlin playing in place of Smith, the Bruins will have more lineup changes. Anton Blidh will take Nick Foligno's spot on the fourth line, as Foligno deals with a lower-body injury. On the back end, Mike Reilly and the recently acquired Josh Brown will play as the team's third defensive pairing, with Connor Clifton and Derek Forbort being the healthy scratches. It will likewise be the Bruins debut for Brown.

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