The Boston Bruins were missing forwards Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci at practice Friday as well as goalie Jaro Halak. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy termed their status ‘unfit to participate’ but have no fear Bruins fans, Cassidy expects to have that veteran trio back tomorrow and maybe, just maybe, his full roster at his disposal for the first time since the NHL Return began.
“We anticipate [Saturday] that we’ll have our full group,” Cassidy said in a Zoom call with the media early Friday evening.
No More Mish-Mash Lineup For Bruins
After a tumultuous training camp and round-robin round when it comes to the Bruins’ health, Cassidy acknowledged that it would be nice to finally get a grasp on what he has when his entire team has the green light o play.
“We anticipate [on Saturday] we’ll have our full group, but until we’ll just keep trying to make it work,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Obviously this whole training camp we haven’t had lines together consistently for different reasons. Will it affect us in the postseason? Time will tell.
I’d like to see our group together to see what it looks like…all together. But until that happens we’re going to fit people in together for practices and games where they can best help us and then go from there.”
Kase Makes Full Practice Debut
Bruins winger Ondrej Kase made his practice (with regulars) debut Friday after skating with the extras just three times since Phase 3 and training camp began on July 13. Unfortunately Krejci – who is expected to center a line with Kase and Jake DeBrusk – wasn’t available but Kase at least got to practice with DeBrusk and his teammates. That line is expected to be intact Sunday when the Bruins play their final round-robin game against the Washington Capitals.
Cassidy expects some rust from Kase but it’s part of the process they need him to accelerate before the postseason begins next week.
“He looks good. He’s making some plays. He’s got some jump,” the Bruins bench boss said. “I think the first three days were tough on him for obvious reasons and now he’s been at it for a full week. You can see he’s a little more natural with everything he does. He’s got quick hands.
My anticipation is he’ll have lots of energy and he’ll fight the puck like a lot of our guys early on in their first game back because of the speed. I anticipate he’ll get some shots because he’s been shot-first in practice and we could use a little more of that. We need him to play. Hopefully, he can pick it up quick because he’s missed some time. We have every intention of using him in Game 1 [next week], we just have to see where he’s at [against the Capitals]. Hopefully, he’s ready to go.”
Bruins Hoping For A Win But Focused On Playoffs
The Bruins are yet to win a game in the round-robin so far, losing their first game 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers last Sunday and then 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. Cassidy acknowledged it would be nice for the Bruins to get one W under their collective belts Sunday but the focus still remains on having their game where they need it when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin next week.
“It’d be nice to win a hockey game,” the two-time Jack Adams Award finalist said. “Yes, there is something at stake…Their main focus is on Game 1 of our first postseason game.”
Pastrnak Hoping To Contain Wilson’s Scoring Prowess
Capitals bruising winger Tom Wilson isn’t exactly known as a sniper or elite goal scorer and that’s why it caught everyone’s attention last week when Bruins winger David Pastrnak tweeted that Wilson is the best goal scorer in the NHL. Considering Pastrnak tied Wilson’s teammate and captain Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals with 48 lamplighters apiece this season and that Wilson has never scored more than 22 goals in a season, it was especially confusing. Both Pastrnak and Wilson confirmed that Pastrnak’s Twitter account wasn’t hacked for a funny prank and that Pastrnak had lost a bet to Wilson.
On Friday, Pastrnak was asked how he and the Bruins hoped to contain ‘the league’s best goal scorer’.
“I hope I won’t be matched up against … It will be really tough defending him,” Pastrnak jokingly replied.
All kidding aside, it’s good to know that Wilson likes Pastrnak because maybe he won’t lay one of his trademark and borderline hits on the Bruins superstar.
Tom Wilson steamrolls Ivan Provorov from behind off the faceoff. Sees nothing but numbers but doesn't let up. Given a minor penalty for boarding. Provorov stays in game pic.twitter.com/4ZlWOqmARC
— NHL Player Safety Watch (@NHLSafetyWatch) August 6, 2020
Clifton Drawing In?
Cassidy said that he will likely throw defenseman Connor Clifton in on the Bruins blue line on Sunday to give him some much-needed “live-action’. After a successful NHL debut in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Clifton has been frequently injured and has also found himself a healthy scratch more often than he’d have liked. His last game action was in the Bruins final game before the NHL Pause back on March 10. Prior to that, he had not played since December 29. Clifton had two goals and no assists in 31 games this season.
If all are healthy, here’s a guesstimate of what the Bruins roster will look like Sunday when they play really amounts to their final tuneup before the real thing: