Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara highlight encouraging newsday
Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are the two most important players on the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins have fared okay without their former Norris Trophy winner and four-time Selke Award recipient, but there’s no question that they’re better off when their two leaders are healthy. They received good news on Thursday when Bergeron and Chara skated for roughly 50 minutes prior to the team’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
There’s no timetable yet for Bergeron (ribs) or Chara (knee) to return. They’ll need a practice or two with their teammates before skating in game action. But Thursday’s development indicates that Bruce Cassidy will have his two reliable cogs sooner rather than later.
“They’re skating and they’re getting closer to joining [the full team] practice,” Cassidy said about Bergeron and Chara. “Again, there’s no timeline on exactly when that will happen.”
The Bruins begin their first three-game-in-four-day pre-Christmas Day slate Friday night in Pittsburgh. A pair of tough Atlantic Division matchups against Buffalo and Montreal follows on Sunday (at TD Garden) and Monday (at Bell Centre). They’ll close out their pre-holiday workload against the Ducks, Predators and Hurricanes late next week.
Cassidy no doubt would love to have an early Christmas present with Bergeron and Chara returning during this stretch.
“I suspect we’ll see them at practice next week,” a cautious Cassidy said. “But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. So I won’t speak for them.”
The Bruins had another positive development on the injury front with Kevan Miller’s return to practice, albeit in a maroon no-contact jersey. The veteran blue-liner exited the Maple Leafs game on Nov. 26 in Toronto after taking a puck to the throat while blocking a shot.
The bearded Miller, who is scheduled to return in early-January, donned a turtleneck to cover his neck area.
“It was good to see him on the ice,” Cassidy said about Miller, who also missed 13 games this season with a broken hand. “He’s had some tough luck with injuries this year, but he’s doing well.”
Miller, Bergeron and Chara gave the Bruins some rare positive news on the injury front. But the team is still dealing with another tough loss in Jake DeBrusk.
Cassidy confirmed DeBrusk’s concussion symptoms during his post-practice press conference. But things are looking better for the second-year forward despite another on-ice absence.
“Jake is feeling better,” Cassidy said following days of speculation regarding DeBrusk’s injury. “He’s going through the normal concussion protocol. He had less symptoms today, so he’s going in the right direction, but he’s still not on the ice.”
Sean Kuraly also missed practice as he underwent a closed production procedure for his nose following his bout with Ottawa Senators defenseman Ben Harpur. Cassidy said the fourth liner is probable for Friday’s game against Pittsburgh.
Thursday’s practice went more smoothly from a news and on-ice production standpoint. But it didn’t come without another player developing a facial boo-boo.
Ryan Donato joined David Backes and Charlie McAvoy in the facial ailment department when — to paraphrase NBC’s Pierre McGuire — he bled profusely from the nose. This came two days after both Backes and McAvoy took nasty cuts following a skate to the face and a high-stick, respectively, during Tuesday’s Bruins-Coyotes tilt.
“It’s good company, but I also don’t want to be a part of that either,” said Donato, who lost a handful of teeth during his time in Providence last month. “Sometimes when you get to those dirty areas, those things can happen. And if that’s the price to pay, then I’m willing to do that.”
The Bruins are fortunate that their win-loss price tag isn’t as expensive with all the injuries. Perhaps they’ll finally get some good karma if Bergeron, Chara, Miller and/or DeBrusk return before the new year.