BRIGHTON, Mass – It sure looked like banged up Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk will be ready to return this week after being a full participant at Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. Grzelcyk (lower body) missed last weekend’s win over the Flyers after he tumbled feet-first into the boards last week, but truth be told he was pretty beaten up after getting his upper body dinged up during an exchange against the Islanders last week as well.
Grzelcyk missed a few days on the ice but returned on Tuesday to take regular turns with defense partner Brandon Carlo while also practicing in his customary spot on the top power play unit. All signs pointed toward Grzelcyk potentially returning for Tuesday night against the Penguins, but Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy stopped short of pronouncing him ready to play.
“He’s going to go out for warm-up, and we’ll see where he’s at,” said Cassidy. “He felt good today, but not 100 percent. It’s his first time on the ice in a couple of days so maybe that’s to be expected. We’ll see and if not then [Connor Clifton] will go in. I suspect he’s very close. If he doesn’t play then I expect by Thursday [against the Penguins]. But if he feels good then he’ll go in.”
The 25-year-old Clifton was a plus-1 with 18:12 of solid ice time in last weekend’s win over the Flyers while largely playing his off-side in a pairing with Carlo.
The Boston Bruins are entering a stretch where they’re going to play 11 games in 18 games – including a couple of back-to-backs with travel – so one would expect they’ll err on the side of caution while not pushing Grzelcyk too hard. The same goes with other Bruins, particularly the veteran players, as Patrice Bergeron was given an extra day off the ice on Monday as well.
Bergeron was on the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate ahead of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the forward group looks pretty solid for the East Division showdown. Here are the projected Boston Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on Tuesday’s morning skate: