Monday morning practice at Warrior Arena a picture of fragmented pieces on the ice.
It ended with Bruce Cassidy’s press conference and a final question about what Wednesday’s lineup might look like in Anaheim. After 10 minutes about patchwork lineups, he said with necessary humor: “Ryan Spooner is out!”
The upcoming four-game sweep across southern California for three games in four nights, and ending in New Jersey, will be major tests for the resiliency of the Black and Gold, let alone wins and losses.
Such is the current life of the Bruins coach, the consummate juggler trying to survive each day with more question marks than pucks in his practice bucket.
“What we’re going to do is try to see what we have on Wednesday,” Cassidy said. “I would like to have all six and sort it out. That would be a nice problem to have.”
While Spooner – still recovering from a broken hand – did practice, the six also included Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork among the missing, nicked up from heavy-duty checks in last week’s games. Noel Acciari, in Michigan for funeral services of ex-PC Friar teammate and friend Drew Brown (cancer), expecting to join the team Wednesday. Jake DeBrusk exiled, but at practice.
David Backes (colon surgery) and Adam McQuaid (broken fibula) on the long-term mend.
“’Hey, watch the game from up top.’” Cassidy told DeBrusk last week. “There’s some areas of your game we like and you need to bring every night.”
No. 6? “Good to be back on the ice and feeling pretty good,” David Krejci said after wearing the non-contact jersey Monday morning, “so that’s a good sign. Going to go on the trip with the guys and hope tomorrow I don’t need the non-contact.”
“We’ll have a good practice tomorrow,” Bruce Cassidy said about his No. 2 pivot, “and see if he can go Wednesday.”
Not to add more burdens to Cassidy’s woes, an emerging concern the heavy minutes carried by Patrice Bergeron.
“We gotta be careful with it,” Cassidy said about Bergeron’s workload. “You want to win games, but not overtax him, How do you juggle that. That’s what’s in front of us. Riley Nash has to step up. Sean Kuraly has done a nice job. We rely on those guys. That’s the hand we’ve been dealt. Can we do this to him 82 times a year, I don’t think so. It will catch up to him.”
The elephant in the room Monday that looming stat about Thanksgiving and the playoffs.
At 6-6-4 and only 3 of 12 points against Eastern Conference teams, Cassidy spoke forthrightly about teams out of the playoffs on Thanksgiving.
“We’re aware of the stats and the data, but it can’t run the show. We gotta stick with the process,” Cassidy said. “If you trust the process and play the right way, then we believe we’ll get enough points. It may not be by November 24. Given the amount of adversity we’ve dealt with I don’t think it’s fair to use that benchmark. It matters but the process matters equally.
“The message going forward is to play hard and control what you can control. The effort has been good; the execution has come and gone. It’s hurt us. That’s all they have to worry about.”
The Bruins return to TD Garden the day after Thanksgiving. Hopefully with fewer worries for Cassidy and beyond.