Both Sean Kuraly and Jake DeBrusk exited the NHL’s COVID protocol list over the past few days. The former returned to the lineup in the Boston Bruins’ 7-5 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. The latter find himself on the third line for Monday’s pivotal matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.
As DeBrusk and Kuraly returned following their lengthy stints, another teammate will have to wait things out. With his positive test, Jaroslav Halak entered COVID protocol on Monday, prompting Jeremy Swayman’s callup from Providence.
Dan Vladar gets the scheduled start in the first game of Boston’s home-and-home with the Flyers. Swayman will serve as the backup.
“Jaro popped a positive test. We have to follow up with more testing for him,” Cassidy said of Halak. “He wasn’t able to go on the ice [Monday morning] because of protocol, so until we get more information on that, we’ll pass it on.”
The best-case scenario is a false-positive test for Halak. Whether he joins the team on their upcoming three-game road trip in Philadelphia (Tuesday and Saturday) and Washington (Thursday) is anyone’s guess.
With one-half of the stellar tandem out, the other half inches closer to returning. Tuukka Rask skated on his own before the pregame skate at Warrior Ice Arena. Boston’s all-time winningest netminder will travel with the team but won’t play in either of the next two games with the Flyers.
Like the Bruins, the Flyers encountered their share of ups and downs in 2021. They’ll have a healthier lineup compared to the last time these two teams met in Lake Tahoe. Amidst their defensive inadequacies — sporting the second-highest goals-against totals in the league (129) — Alain Vigneault’s squad sits four points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East Division.
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins lit the lamp nine times against an injury-plagued Bruins defensive core. The offensive output from Saturday’s win — with five of the seven tallies coming at 5v5 — helped the Bruins salvage an important split.
In an attempt to balance out his lineup, Cassidy moved David Pastrnak to the second line with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie. Craig Smith moved to Pastrnak’s usual spot on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The top-six accounted for all seven of Boston’s tallies, sparked by Marchand’s hat trick and Pastrnak breaking out of his slump with a two-goal outing. A returning DeBrusk — who found his scoring touch prior to the COVID diagnosis — provides a little more stability upfront.
With Kevan Miller potentially returning for Tuesday’s matchup in Philadelphia, a patchwork Boston D will have to persevere one more time against a Flyers squad sporting five double-digit goal scorers. Here’s a look at the likely forward trios and D-pairs for Monday.
Bruins projected lineup
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Craig Smith Nick Ritchie-David Krejci-David Pastrnak Jake DeBrusk-Charlie Coyle-Zach Senyshyn Trent Frederic-Sean Kuraly-Karson Kuhlman
Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy Jeremy Lauzon-Connor Clifton Jakub Zboril-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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