On Thursday, the Bruins started the season without the likes of Patrice Bergeron (lower body), Torey Krug (jaw), Austin Czarnik (illness) and David Backes (out at least 3-4 weeks with diverticulitis).
Thanks to the impressive regular season debuts from Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork, the Bruins – who also lost Noel Acciari in the season opener to a finger injury (more on that in a bit) – and their up-tempo style of play got the best of the defending Western Conference champion Nashville Predators at TD Garden, 4-3.
To say that the injured guys aren’t eager to return and add to the speed and skill of the Bruins lineup is an understatement.
“Yeah, that’s the type of game that I’ve been playing since I came into the league and it only took five years for the team to get on the same page,” the 26-year-old Krug said with a laugh. “But no, it’s something that’s exciting and something to be a part of where everyone is aggressive and everyone is assertive. It’s a fun time to be a part of this group.”
“That’s huge for us,” Czarnik, 24, said about the fountain of youth displayed against the Predators. “It’s one thing that we want to play with this year is pace, so hopefully I have that pace going when called upon and just go forward with that.”
With their next game coming on Monday – a Columbus Day matinee versus the Colorado Avalanche – the Bruins have a chance to get some healthy bodies back in the lineup.
A pair of Bruins got one step closer to a return as Krug and Czarnik were full participants during Saturday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. Both Krug and Czarnik skated on their own prior to taking full contact for the first time since their respective preseason wounds.
Bergeron was not a full participant but skated prior to the team taking the ice.
Krug, Czarnik and Bergeron’s status is still up in the air for Monday as the Bruins hope to down the Avs on Causeway Street for the first time since October 14, 1998. They are 0-9-1 at home against Colorado in the 10 games since.
“I wouldn’t say doubtful yet,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said about Bergeron. “We’re going to reassess in the morning. Obviously, the more time he spends away from practice, the more doubtful he looks. But, we’ll see how he does tomorrow.”
“They were both cleared to practice and obviously they made it through there, and they’re feeling better” Cassidy added about Czarnik and Krug. “But that’s another one we’re going to look at tomorrow.”
Acciari out six weeks
Not only were the Bruins shorthanded coming into the season opener, but they had to finish the game with one less guy as well.
Noel Acciari, who left in the second period after taking a P.K. Subban shot to the hand during a Preds power play, will miss the next six weeks. The former Providence Friar had surgery on his right index finger on Friday during the Bruins’ off day.
Acciari earned his spot as a fourth line regular following a strong finish to his 2016-17 campaign. The latest setback couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“He gives us that flavor in the bottom of the lineup in terms of physicality,” Cassidy said about the loss of Acciari. “He had good chemistry with [Riley] Nash – they played a straight line game – and then [Tim] Schaller or [Sean] Kuraly or whoever we had in there was I thought a ‘hard to play against’ line with some ability to chip in offensively. He was starting to grow his game on the penalty kill as well – it’s something we wanted to build in. So, it’s a tough one.”
“He’s the one who put himself in harms notice with a little bit of bad luck again. But he’s a tough guy and he’ll be back, but he’ll be missed as well.
With a few exceptions, Cassidy’s lineup that ended Thursday’s game against the Predators pretty much stayed the same during Saturday’s skate. Here is a complete look at the forward and d-pairings.
Brad Marchand-Ryan Spooner-David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-Anders Bjork
Matt Beleskey-Czarnik-Frank Vatrano
Zdeno Chara-Brandon Carlo
Kevan Miller-Charlie McAvoy
(Matt Grzeclyk-Paul Postma)
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