The hockey gods seemingly rarely give the Boston Bruins a break in the injury department.
Bruce Cassidy consistently shuffled his lineup ever since taking over for Claude Julien in Feb. 2017. At times he looked for a shakeup to get the Bruins out of a rut. But he mostly had to makeshift his four forward trios and three defensive pairs because of the dreaded injury bug.
The Bruins dressed 20 forwards in the first quarter of the 2019-20 campaign. They were without their top center (Patrice Bergeron) and their top offensive defenseman (Torey Krug) — among others — in Saturday’s shootout loss to the league-leading Washington Capitals.
Monday’s practice brought a glimmer of hope as Jake DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie returned to practice. The two forwards, skating on a line with Par Lindholm during the on-ice training session at Warrior Ice Arena, missed the last five games with respective lower and upper body injuries.
Injuries never come at a good time for anyone. DeBrusk proved that theory true after sustaining his lower-body injury in Montreal on Nov. 5. The third-year forward, who tallied in points in three of his previous four games leading up to the Habs tilt, had to sit and watch from the press box with a good handful as his teammates as the Bruins embarked on their worst stretch of the young season.
“It was kind of a freak [injury] to be honest,” DeBrusk said about this injury. “It was kind of a weird play. I think it was the second shift of the game in Montreal. I tried to make a move — I think it was [Jeff] Petry — and I kind of hyperextended my leg in a way. But I didn’t believe I was injured — I never had a leg injury before — but I finished the game and I had it looked at the next day by the trainers because something was going on. I didn’t know if it was lingering, but in saying that, something happened and I got treatment right after that.”
DeBrusk doesn’t have to worry about returning soon. The 2015 first round selection, along with Ritchie and Bergeron, are all game-time decisions for Tuesday’s with the New Jersey Devils in Newark.
The Bruins will still be missing some key contributors against the lowly Devils, including Krug. Cassidy didn’t rule out a potential return later this week for Krug, but he’ll work with what they have in Game 21 of the long-82 game season.
“You have to do that all year long regardless of who’s in or out,” forward Brad Marchand said about the short-term approach. “You start looking ahead in a season — it’s really long — you’ll lose focus and start losing. We have to keep that mentality regardless of the opponent.”
Here’s a look at the lines from Monday’s practice in Brighton.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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