BRIGHTON, Mass – The Boston Bruins have yet to play their first game of the regular season, but they’ve already suffered their first significant injury.
Curtis Lazar was missing from Friday’s practice, injured his upper body crashing into the net in Wednesday’s preseason finale against the Washington Capitals and is considered “week-to-week” at this point by the Bruins. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said they won’t know the true extent of the injury until the swelling subsides enough for Lazar to get a scan of the injured area, which indicates the fourth line forward is indeed going to miss some time.
“He has an upper body that’s going to require a little more time because of the inflammation to get an exact diagnosis,” said Cassidy of Lazar, who finished with seven goals and 13 points in 50 games for the Sabres and Bruins last season. “But he’s out and we’re going to list him as week-to-week, and hopefully it’s on the short end of that. We’ll give him a few days and we’ll have a better idea.”
There’s no doubt the Boston Bruins will miss Lazar’s skill level on the fourth line where he had the most offensive wiggle of the three players expected to start the season there.
The Lazar injury will certainly open up another forward spot on the NHL roster for a fourth line hopeful like Karson Kuhlman or Anton Blidh. While one might think it could create an opening for Jack Studnicka to crack the NHL roster after a very impressive training camp, Cassidy dashed that by intimating that the 22-year-old probably isn’t a great fit for an energy line role.
Studnicka would arguably benefit more from a start in Providence where he can play big minutes in all situations rather than shoehorning him into a fourth line energy role on the wing that wouldn’t be a natural fit.
“We like our top-9 right now. We really do. There’s no complaints on where they are. We weren’t sure on Coyle coming into camp health-wise, but he goes out and plays well the other night and gets through it completely healthy and ready to go. So now you look at the bottom of the lineup and ask ‘Is that the right spot for Jack?” said Cassidy. “Is that going to be the best for his development and is that going to be best for the team? And we’re answer those questions internally.
“That’s what he’s up against. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. He’s played a strong game on his forehand, hasn’t turned the puck over as much and his details away from the puck [are better]. He’s put the emphasis on the other things [in his game] rather than putting the emphasis on ‘Well, I’ve got to score if I’m going to make this team.’ Eventually if that’s your role then you ought to, but if you can do the other things well then at least you get on the ice and get a chance to score. That’s how you build trust with your coaches and your teammates.”
Both Kuhlman and Blidh are still with the team, as is Studnicka, so one would expect that one of those three players will end up sticking around if Lazar does end up on the injured list with his upper body injury.