The Boston Bruins have their opening night lineup taking shape as training camp winds down, and their first regular season game vs. the New Jersey Devils is just a few days away.
The Bruins skated 22 regulars plus their two goalies during the early morning session at Sunday’s training camp practices at Warrior Ice Arena and then had the Providence Bruins and taxi squad-bound players take the ice in the afternoon. The Bruins will have some extra players on their NHL roster in a taxi-squad capacity due to potential roster difficulties posted by COVID-19 as some NHL teams are already experiencing this week.
Bruce Cassidy indicated that young defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was also “in the mix” despite skating in the later group after having a pretty good training camp week with the B’s, but for all intents and purposes the top-12 forwards and top-6 defensemen look to be the group ready to open things up in New Jersey.
“We wanted to get down to more of what our group would look like with four lines and eight defensemen, and we sprinkle in a couple more forwards because that’s typically what our roster will look like,” said Bruce Cassidy. “But I think Vaakanainen will be in that conversation based on the way he’s played, but I didn’t want to practice with nine ‘D’ so he was the odd man out.
“Certainly, [with] the forward group I don’t think there was anybody that was left off. [Greg] McKegg is a bit of an unknown to us because with no exhibition games it really hurts guys like that, who have come from a different organization. [Craig] Smith has obviously done that, but he’s a little more of a known commodity in this league. So, a couple of guys get hurt by no exhibition games. Tomorrow we’ll discuss some things as we’re getting close to roster finality, but we’re thinking of scrimmaging tomorrow to get a last look at some of those guys that weren’t in the first group.”
Brad Marchand (sports hernia surgery) had to leave the practice session early, was getting treatment this afternoon and was declared “a morning-time decision” by Cassidy when it comes to participating in the Monday morning scrimmage. Marchand played in Friday’s scrimmage and had Saturday off before leaving the practice session early on Sunday with just four days to go until the season opens.
Here are the Boston Bruins line combos and D-pairings from Sunday’s practice with the top four lines and three defensemen pairs likely to be playing against the Devils along with Tuukka Rask: