The Boston Bruins are almost back to full strength as left winger Taylor Hall returned to the practice ice on Monday at Warrior Ice Arena. That leaves only Charlie Coyle and Brandon Carlo missing due to the league’s COVID protocols and Carlo is expected back later this week leaving only their No. 2 center missing from a regular group that battled a COVID outbreak over the last few weeks.
“We’ve obviously got some things to cover. We get an opportunity to run almost like a mini training camp, and most of our guys are out here, right? So, we’re fortunate in that regard,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Knock on wood we don’t lose anybody else. It’s only Charlie Coyle and then Brandon for half the week. We should get to see him later in the week. So in that regard, we can get some good work done with the full group.”
Oskar Steen was also cleared off the COVID protocol list as well and was sent back to the Providence Bruins on Monday as the B’s mull the options for the NHL’s newly formulated taxi squad group.
Certainly, there are areas to work on in a week of practice leading up to Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Buffalo Sabres: Driving the net, tightening things up defensively around the net and generating offense beyond the Perfection Line should be chief among them along with knocking off a week’s worth of rust.
With 56 games still to go in the regular season and some busy, busy months ahead in March and April along with finding dates for six makeup games, the Boston Bruins simply want to make the most out of their idle time with no choice in the matter.
“I think we have to make the best of it,” said Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, who said he had a bit of fatigue during his bout with COVID. “Resting and making sure we recharge the batteries and be ready for the rest of the year [is a key]. It’s going to be a lot of games and not many days, as we all know. Right now, [it’s important] being able to use that to our advantage if we can.
“Obviously some guys got hit with COVID and some felt a little bit more than others. But that being said, I think we were able to rest and spend some time at home and find ways to recharge the batteries mentally and also physically and be ready for the next stretch, which will be a pretty big one.”
The Boston Bruins are actually in a decent spot all things considered trailing the Detroit Red Wings for the last playoff spot by a mere three points with five games in hand, and with a feeling they haven’t truly played their best hockey yet this season. The COVID outbreak was just the latest in a long line of adversity that’s challenged a Black and Gold group still trying to figure out who they are after significant roster turnover in each of the last two seasons.
Here’s the line combos and D-pairings for the Bruins as they skated for the second straight day on Monday: