Puck moving D-man Matt Grzelcyk made a return to the Boston Bruins practice group this weekend, but that doesn’t mean he’s coming to the rescue amidst the current two-game losing streak.
The 27-year-old Grzelcyk practiced with the Bruins on Saturday at Madison Square Garden ahead of this afternoon’s matinee against the New York Rangers, but Bruce Cassidy termed the puck-moving defenseman “doubtful” for the final game of the three-game road swing through New York. Cassidy also confirmed that big-bodied Jarred Tinordi, acquired through waivers from the Nashville Predators on Saturday, won’t be eligible to play as the Bruins navigate the COVID-19 protocols with a player new to their organization.
That leaves the Bruins with the same defensive group that was outscored 13-3 in a pair of losses to the Islanders and Rangers over the last few days, and is showing some real flaws with Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) and Kevan Miller out of the lineup right now.
“I don’t think he’s going to play on Sunday. He and the medical staff will have to make that decision, but I’d say doubtful [against the Rangers]. I noticed things [in our game] slipping in New York the last time that we were here. Managing pucks, being hard in front of our net and being hard in front of their net. We went to Tahoe, got some goals and rectified some things. We got some goals,” said Bruce Cassidy of a Bruins team that’s lost four of their last five games, with just the outdoor win at Lake Tahoe as the bright spot. “We don’t feel like we’re completely out of it and everything is a mess. We just feel like our game has slid the last few weeks. Why? Some of it is injuries to guys we rely on within the back end. But other guys are here that can play in the NHL, so they just need to fill in and just stay within themselves. Be a little cleaner. I think what’s happened back there is they’re trying to force the issue and do a little too much.”
Grzelcyk has played in just six games this season while dealing with nagging lower body injuries and hasn’t suited for a game since Feb. 10, when he pretty clearly tried to return too early from his lower-body issue. Cassidy didn’t have much of an update on Miller, who is back in Boston and hasn’t been able to get back on the ice to skate while dealing with the same knee issues that forced him to sit out each of the last two full hockey seasons prior to returning this year.
With the Bruins off until Wednesday following Sunday’s game, it’s entirely possible that at least Grzelcyk could be ready to go when the B’s square off against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden next week. Here are the projected Boston Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on Saturday’s practice, with it looking like both Anders Bjork and Chris Wagner could be healthy scratches: