BRIGHTON, Mass – The news continues to get encouraging for the Boston Bruins as they slowly bounce back from their COVID Protocol situation.
After getting Brad Marchand back into game action on Tuesday night, fourth line center Sean Kuraly returned to full practice with the group on Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena after missing five games over the last two weeks due to COVID Protocol. Rugged defenseman Kevan Miller also skated with the full group after missing the last six weeks with recurrent knee issues.
Kuraly was skating as one of the extra forwards along with Chris Wagner during Wednesday’s practice and the signs pointed toward him sitting for one more game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at TD Garden.
“There’s no timetable on [Kevan] Miller. Kuraly has now been cleared. He just hasn’t skated a lot so now we have to manage that,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’ll discuss it internally: Should he go in tomorrow or is he better off skating tomorrow, getting a good practice in on Friday and maybe go in on Saturday. That type of thing. But as far as the COVID Protocol goes, he’s officially available tomorrow.”
The 28-year-old Kuraly was in and out of the B’s lineup just prior to landing on the NHL’s COVID list and has just four points and a minus-7 in 25 games this year, so that may be playing into the Bruins holding him out a bit longer as well. The B’s are giving a few looks to a younger Anton Blidh/Trent Frederic/Karson Kuhlman combo as an energy line with limited results thus far.
Jake DeBrusk was likewise at the Warrior Ice facility on Wednesday as he enters the final few days of his run through the NHL’s COVID Protocol and could be looking at a return to the practice ice later this week. As usual with DeBrusk, he was in pretty good spirits despite the circumstances that have kept him out for the last few weeks.
“[DeBrusk] was in this morning and he was smiling…happy to be with the other guys,” said Cassidy. “He’s limited by the NHL’s protocols for what he can and can’t do, but he was three or four days behind Kuraly in the protocol. I don’t know if that means he’ll be out with the group tomorrow or Friday, but he’s closer. So that’s good.”
Here are the line combos and forward pairings from Wednesday’s practice as the Bruins gradually get back to their main group, and with rookie Dan Vladar getting the starting nod against the Penguins on Thursday:
Bjork – Coyle – Senyshyn
Blidh – Frederic – Kuhlman