A battered and sick Boston Bruins squad boarded a charter flight to Vancouver a day late Tuesday as they embarked on a three-game road trip through Northwest Canada.
The Bruins will play the Canucks Wednesday and the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, with both puck-drops slated for 9 PM ET, and then finish the trip off in Calgary against the Flames at 10 PM ET.
While the status for multiple players is still up in the air, the Boston Bruins will get a much-needed boost when winger Brad Marchand returns from a three-game suspension for a slew foot on Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a 3-2 Bruins win on Nov. 28.
After a turbulent week that saw the Bruins deal with a Jake DeBrusk trade request, a COVID outbreak amongst the coaching staff, and a three-game suspension for winger Brad Marchand, the Boston Bruins postponed their flight west a day due to a non-COVID illness that was spreading like wildfire through the dressing room. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy was the first to get the bug and missed the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Then on Monday, Linus Ullmark, Charlie Coyle, Tomas Nosek, and Matt Grzelcyk were all missing from practice. McAvoy, Ullmark, along with forward Anton Blidh (upper-body) all skated Tuesday morning before the afternoon flight, but Coyle and Grzelcyk did not. All five will make the trip though and are listed as day-to-day. Forward Tomas Nosek, who was also sick, did not skate on Tuesday and will not make the trip.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron practiced with a face shield Tuesday after having his nose reset on Monday.
Defenseman Jakub Zboril, who suffered a lower-body injury last Thursday, did not practice or make the trip and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Due to Canadian COVID restrictions, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who has been in COVID protocol with minor symptoms for a week, will not travel with the team and assistant coach Joe Sacco will remain in his spot for the next three games.
After beating a spiraling and slumping Canucks team last month, the Boston Bruins will face a Canucks team that went through major changes this past Sunday night. The Canucks fired general manager and former Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning, head coach Travis Green, and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner. Bruce Boudreau took over for Green, Scoot Walker for Baumgartner, and senior advisor Stan Smyl, assistant GM Chris Gear, Daniel, and Henrik Sedin, and Abbotsford Canucks GM Ryan Johnson will for a hockey ops and management committee until the team officially replaces Benning.
A seemingly revitalized Canucks team beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 in Boudreau’s first game behind the Canucks bench on Monday night. As of Tuesday afternoon though, NHL betting odds at Fanduel still had the Bruins as -150 favorites on the money line and +165 on puck line (-1.5). The over/under was set at 6 with the over at -105 and the under at -115.