The Boston Bruins last touched the ice one week ago in Buffalo. Even then, they didn’t know if they’d get their scheduled tilt with the Sabres after Sean Kuraly and a member of Buffalo’s staff tested positive for COVID-19.
The Bruins and Sabres got their scheduled tilt in a week ago. They weren’t so fortunate a day later as the NHL postponed their second scheduled game of the season with Buffalo on Saturday along with Tuesday’s tilt against the East Division-leading New York Islanders.
Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith joined Kuraly on the NHL’s COVID protocol list last Friday. They all had to return home separately from Buffalo.
The Bruins reconvened Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena following extensive testing. Pastrnak, Krejci and Smith joined the group after the NHL released them from COVID protocol.
Bruce Cassidy’s squad received more positive developments on the injury front. Tuukka Rask, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Jeremy Lauzon, Jared Tinordi and Brandon Carlo (in a red non-contact sweater) all practiced during the on-ice session in Brighton on Wednesday evening.
The Bruins aren’t clear of the injury bug yet. Carlo and Lauzon remain out. But Rask will return Frederic and Tinordi could re-enter the lineup when the Bruins welcome fans to TD Garden for the first time in over a year — in a limited capacity — against the Islanders. Kuraly and DeBrusk also remained on the COVID protocol list as of Wednesday.
After a few days of uncertainty, the Bruins now face a grueling stretch of 28 games in 45 days. They may have a few more faces with the NHL trade deadline falling in the middle of that span. Yet, in this unusual season, they’re taking the one-day-at-a-time cliche to good use.
“The best news of the week is we get to play in front of our fans,” Bergeron said following Wednesday’s practice.
“It’s unfortunate that [postponements] happened But it’s the type of year and the type of environment that we’re in where you never know what’s going to happen. You have to roll with the punches I guess and try to move forward and do what you’re being told and respect that as much as possible. Now we’re happy that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“We’ve got some catching up to do, both in the standings and just playing hockey for our sake,” Cassidy added. “I think that’s our focus more than anything and that’s how we’re going to look at it.”
The Bruins, sitting third in the East, carry a two-game win streak into Thursday’s tilt with the division-leading Islanders. They have games in hand over everyone in the division and seven more meetings scheduled with the lowly Sabres.
Now they’ll have a small sense of normalcy with the TD Garden welcoming back the loyal Black and Gold supporters, albeit at 12 percent capacity. And perhaps they’ll find a lucky fan or two to toss some souvenirs into the socially distant crowd.
“We finally have someone to throw pucks to in warmups,” Pastrnak said.
Come puck drop, the Bruins, still searching for offensive constancy, hope to fire a few pucks into the Isles net. For now, here’s a look at their projected lineup:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak Nick Ritchie-David Krejci-Craig Smith Anders Bjork-Charlie Coyle-Karson Kuhlman Trent Frederic-Greg McKegg-Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy Jakub Zboril-Connor Clifton Jared Tinordi-Steven Kampfer
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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