The Boston Bruins arrived to Philadelphia on Tuesday prepping for another two-game set with the Flyers. They enter Wednesday’s matchup carrying a six-game point streak following a thrilling come-from-behind win in Washington to nights prior.
Most of Wednesday’s media session, however — aside from a pair of well-asked questions on Charlie McAvoy from an aspiring sports reporter and Concord-Carlisle girls’ hockey captain Dallas Jackson, the scheduled starts for Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak and Anton Blidh making his season debut — didn’t involve the usual Q&A’s around personnel decisions and evaluations. Instead, they centered mostly on the recent COVID-19 outbreak with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Bruins were scheduled to face the Sabres for a two-game set beginning Saturday at TD Garden. On Tuesday, the NHL postponed all of Buffalo’s upcoming contests through Feb. 7.
The Sabres entered the week with a shootout win and a regulation loss to the New Jersey Devils in their two-game set in Buffalo. The Devils added 14 players to the COVID list following the series. The Sabres added Taylor Hall and Rasmus Ristolainen to COVID protocol shortly after.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad hasn’t encountered a COVID case so far. But the recent outbreak with the Devils and Sabres provided a reminder for his players to continue following the strict guidelines during the pandemic.
“The way you saw what happened in Jersey and knowing that they just played Buffalo, you knew something might be in the works there. So I’m certainly not surprised. Hopefully, this curtails it, and people get healthy in the East here, because there have been a few shutdowns now,” Cassidy said of the outbreak with the Devils and Sabres.
“Well, I think we’ve done a good job. Training camp, we had a couple of guys who had to miss some time. But since the year has started, I think everybody has done their best to adhere to the guidelines. I can’t tell you what the guys have done away from the rink. They have their own space on the road, and it seems like we’ve been following the protocols. We haven’t had any positive tests — knock on wood — as of yet here.”
The Bruins find themselves rolling through the first nine games of the season. They’ll have 11 games under their belt after Friday’s series finale with the Flyers.
Their upcoming break, however, should come at a good time. They’ll have a couple of extra days off now before hitting the road again for a three-game-in-four-night stretch against the Rangers (Feb. 10 and 12) and Islanders (Feb. 13).
Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk resumed skating activities in Boston after sustaining lower-body injuries. The time off should allow the pair to heal further and potentially rejoin their teammates early next week.
For the players returning home late Friday, they’ll have time to heal some aches and pains from a physical four-game road slate.
“I think the break…we can use it to our advantage,” Cassidy said. “Some guys have some bumps and bruises. We just a couple of tough [games] in Washington and I’m sure we’ll have two more physical ones in Philly. So, for the couple of guys who have been off, we won’t have to rush them back — like Gryz [Grzelcyk] and DeBrursk — and some of the other guys. So for us, you play the hand your dealt…so that’s how we’ll adjust accordingly.”
The schedule change during a conflicting time isn’t all that surprising to Walpole’s own Chris Wagner. Come Sunday, he’ll breathe a little easier when watching former Pats QB and current Bucs signal-caller Tom Brady make a run for his seventh Lombardi Trophy against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“My reaction was it’s nothing new,” Wagner said upon hearing the news. “Super Bowl Sunday may be a little more relaxed, but that’s about it.”
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.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.