BRIGHTON, Mass – The Boston Bruins appeared to be approaching full health for their lineup when defenseman Matt Grzelcyk returned to practice on Wednesday and was “looking good” to play Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. But the former BU standout was missing from Thursday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after practice Grzelcyk was “feeling under the weather” and was out for Thursday night against the Blackhawks.
“He just woke up with a head cold or something to that effect and was not feeling 100 percent,” said Cassidy. “With his injury, it looked like he was ready to go yesterday.”
Instead rookie D-man Jack Ahcan will play his second straight game for the Bruins in a pairing with Brandon Carlo.
The 28-year-old Grzelcyk was held out of Monday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings with an upper body injury after logging 21:26 of ice time, his high-water mark for ice time on the six game road trip, in last weekend’s shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ahcan played in Grzelcyk’s place on Monday night and looked okay with one shot on net, one hit, one blocked shot and two giveaways in 14:17 of ice time against Los Angeles.
“[He] didn’t move his feet early on [and] got himself in trouble against a good forechecking team,” said Cassidy of Ahcan after Monday night’s loss. “Once he got into the game and the rhythm of it, he was better.
“He’s a puck handler, and with ice like tonight, it wasn’t going to be his best friend when you’re trying to make tight area plays. It’s probably a night for more direct plays. His ability to transition is one of his assets, and he was a little too static.”
In other Boston Bruins defensemen health news, Urho Vaakanainen (upper body) continues to wear a no-contact sweater at practice and hasn’t been in a game in almost three weeks having last played on Feb. 19 against the Ottawa Senators. Cassidy said at this point that Vaakanainen wouldn’t go directly back into the lineup when he is healthy enough to play based on the time he’s been out and the solid way that Connor Clifton has played as of late.
Jeremy Swayman will get the start against the Blackhawks on Thursday night and Taylor Hall will be in the lineup as well after missing Wednesday’s practice with a maintenance day. Here’s the projected Boston Bruins lineup against the Blackhawks based on Wednesday’s practice at Warrior ice Arena: