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  • Bruins notebook: Wilson fallout, Coyle exits COVID protocol, defensive depth faces another test

    Tim Rosenthal March 6, 2021

    The fallout from Tom Wilson’s cheap shot on Brandon Carlo Friday night continued less than 24 hours after Boston’s 5-1 win over Washington.

    Before the Bruins touched the ice for practice at Warrior Ice Arena, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced an in-person hearing for Wilson on Saturday evening. As part of the league’s CBA, Wilson will sit for at least five games as a result of his late and unnecessary hit on Carlo.

    As he spent time in a local hospital, the tight-knit Bruins came together for one of their defining wins of the 2021 campaign. Their sticktoitiveness paid dividends with Jared Tinordi and Trent Frederic dropping the gloves against Wilson and their second-period offensive onslaught.

    “It’s no surprise to me that we’re built that way,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said regarding his team’s resiliency. “We’ve talked about that on how the leadership group [set] the expectation. There’s a standard here from the top down. I was happy to see it.”

    The Bruins won one for their fallen teammate. As for Carlo, the fifth-year defenseman returned home following evaluations according to Cassidy. Boston’s fifth-year bench boss didn’t provide any further update on Carlo’s status going forward.

    Cassidy’s club has four more meetings scheduled with the Capitals in April. They’ll first face Wilson and company on April 8 during their four-game road swing in Washington and Philadelphia.

    Charlie Coyle returns from COVID-19 protocol

    The Bruins found out about Coyle’s status in their first meeting with the Capitals around midday Wednesday. Coyle’s stint turned out to be brief. He returned to the lineup on Friday in his usual third line spot, centering Frederic and Craig Smith.

    Coyle developed a false-positive COVID test on Wednesday. The league took him off the protocol following three negative tests. The Weymouth native became the first Bruin to experience the process, an experience he’d like to forget, to say the least.

    “You start thinking about everything you’ve done the last couple of days [prior to the positive test] and start questioning everything,” Coyle said. “It was kind of hard to believe that I’d be the only one to have it, so I kind of knew I was going to be okay. I had no symptoms or anything. But being away from the rink for two days — you can’t go on the ice — I wanted to be ready for last night’s game. So I just did workouts by myself at home…I’m at my apartment complex and I can’t go to the gym there or anything so I’m doing bodyweight stuff in my house and just trying to get ready to stay in shape.”

    The brief scare was just that. Everything worked out for Coyle following a couple of days at home.

    Thus the Bruins, who’ve seen a handful of their games rescheduled already, avoided an outbreak.

    “It worked out. It felt decent actually,” Coyle added. “But it could’ve been a lot worse.”

    Defensive depth faces another test

    The Bruins last fielded their opening night defensive lineup in January. The injuries have piled up since.

    Cassidy’s squad was down to five defensemen on Friday following Carlo’s injury. They only had four defensemen at their service for over five minutes in the second period after Tinordi’s bout with Wilson.

    But the defensive depth faces a stiff challenge with Carlo out of the lineup. The Colorado Springs native joins top left-shot pair Jeremy Lauzon and Kevan Miller — three of Boston’s heavy defenders and primary penalty killers — on the injured list entering Sunday’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.

    “We’ve lost some of our stiffness, our girth back there — or whatever you want to call it — guys who are hard to play against,” Cassidy said of the defensive adjustments. “They all kill penalties, so we’ve had to adjust on the penalty kill a little bit, be a little footspeed oriented and try to kill plays with quickness in defending entries, so that’s one adjustment.

    “We were working on some stuff today to protect the blue-line a little better so we’re not playing below our goal-line. That was an area of trouble for us in the past; where had trouble breaking pucks out at times below our goal-line where we lost some of our bigger bodies that can shield people, bump them off the puck and then we can outnumber people. I thought we did a real good job at the start of the year before they went down and we had to adjust.”

    Cassidy’s adjustments provided some interesting defensive pairs for Saturday’s practice. Matt Grzelcyk, fresh off returning from another lower-body ailment, reunited with fellow BU teammate Charlie McAvoy on the top pair. He used the offensively-minded Jakub Zboril and a gritty Connor Clifton on the second pair with Tinordi and 2017 first-rounder Urho Vaakaninen on the third unit and John Moore and Steven Kampfer serving as extras.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    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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