The Boston Bruins will be without another forward Friday when they play the Detroit Red Wings for the first time this season at Little Caesar’s Arena. Winger Jake DeBrusk – who has two goals in his last three games – suffered a lower-body injury in the Bruins’ 5-4 loss to the Canadiens Tuesday, did not practice Thursday and will not make the trip to Detroit. He’s listed as day-to-day. DeBrusk has been finding his game lately and head coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t trying to hide what a big loss this is and could be if this injury turns out to be longterm.
“DeBrusk is the big one. He played through the game [on Tuesday] with a lower-body injury and woke up yesterday not feeling great. So he had it checked out and he’s continuing to get it checked out,” said Bruce Cassidy of DeBrusk, who had scored in each of his two previous games leading into Tuesday night’s showdown with the Habs at the Bell Centre. “He will not travel with us, so we’ll probably have a much better idea when we got a report [on Friday]. [His availability for] Sunday, I have no idea.”
Joakim Nordstrom (infection), Par Lindholm (upper body), and Kevan Miller (knee) all practiced Thursday but were in the non-contact merlot jerseys. David Backes, who it’s believed suffered a concussion in that horrific collision with Ottawa Senators forward Scott Sabourin, remains out and did not practice. Cassidy did, however, say that Backes is “doing better”.
Miller Almost There, Moore Trending Up
Miller, who hasn’t played a game since April 4 of last season is getting closer to making his season debut.
“Wouldn’t be Tuesday [against Florida]…I wouldn’t rule out [next weekend], but I think it’s more likely the following week [of November 18],” said Cassidy.
Fellow rearguard John Moore (shoulder) is progressing and skated again before practice and then intermittently during line drills Thursday but isn’t as close as Miller yet.
“He’s able to join the group a little bit now on some of the line drills,” said Cassidy. “We just had eight D out there…he’s not ready for contact.”
Will Cassidy’s Blue Line Shuffle Spark McAvoy?
Last season the Bruins had 151 points from the blue line and then 50 more in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games as they fell one game short of raising Lord Stanley. Through 15 games this season, the B’s have 30 points from the back end. As he did last season with 53 points and then 18 during the Bruins’ run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, Torey Krug is leading the way again with two goals and ten assists for 12 points.
Fellow defenseman Charlie McAvoy hasn’t been bad by any means, but the hope coming into this season was that he would build off an abbreviated but solid 2018-19 regular season when he lit the lamp seven times and had 21 helpers. McAvoy then had two goals and six assists in 23 playoff games and after signing a three-year bridge deal worth $14.7 million this past September the hope was that a month deep into the season, McAvoy would have more than just four points, all assists. On Thursday, Cassidy decided to switch things up on the blue line in an effort to maybe let McAvoy use more of his offensive creativity as McAvoy was no longer paired with captain Zdeno Chara and reunited with his college defensive-partner at Boston University, Matt Grzelcyk. Meanwhile, Chara was with Connor Clifton.
“Grizz and Charlie have had a good relationship from BU, they play well together. Not worried about that. ‘Zee’ and Clifton, we haven’t seen much of, so we’ll see,” Cassidy said. “We see it as being more equitable if Clifton goes with ‘Zee’. We’re gonna give it a go. It matches the size factor a little better. We always thought ‘Grizz’ and Clifton was two good players, but are they an ideal pair? This allows Charlie to free up a bit on the offensive side of things, maybe not get the heavy matchup every time over the boards.”
McAvoy seemed to have no issues with the switch and was looking forward to reuniting with his fellow Terrier.
“I’ve had obviously, some experience playing with ‘Grizz’ in the past so I’m very comfortable playing with him,” McAvoy said. “Whatever it takes for us to show up and just play the right way and play well and get wins, I’m fine with whatever the D-partners are. I’m really excited for tomorrow’s game.”
Bruins Recall Peter Cehlarik and Zach Senyshyn
With the DeBrusk injury, as well as Lindholm and Nordstrom remaining unable to play, the Bruins recalled forwards Peter Cehlarik and Zach Senyshyn. Senyshyn got two helpers in just his second NHL game Tuesday at Montreal and Cassidy was impressed.
“Great environment in Montreal. Good for [Senyshyn],” the Bruins bench boss said. “He gets to experience that, especially with the rivalry. But at the end of the day, it’s the National Hockey League. It’s gonna be a good team he’s playing [Friday] night. I thought he handled it very well. He gave us about 11 solid minutes. He’s on the puck. Him and Bjorkie did a real good job getting on pucks, turning pucks over to give us a chance to get on the attack.”
Here’s what the lineup could look like on Friday night in Detroit:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork – Charlie Coyle – Zach Senyshyn
Chris Wagner – Sean Kuraly – Brett Ritchie
Zdeno Chara – Connor Clifton
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy