Cassidy continues to look for right combos as Bruins' playoff opener nears

Cassidy continues to look for right combos as Bruins' playoff opener nears

OTTAWA -- The Bruins had no surprises Wednesday on the forward lines during morning skate at the Canadian Tire Center prior to Game 1 of their series with the Ottawa Senators, but they continue to jumble up the back end looking for the right combinations.


That meant David Krejci and Dominic Moore were out in their usual spots for morning skate, and Charlie McAvoy was paired with stay-at-home D-man Kevan Miller. 

Both Torey Krug (lower body) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) didn’t make the trip up with the Bruins to Ottawa, but could presumably rejoin the team if they’re ready with two off-days between Game 1 and Game 2. 

“They’re classified as day-to-day, and if they become available then we could get them out here," said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. 

Cassidy indicated that he could mix-and-match with the pairings once play begins on Wednesday night, and he sees how things look on the ice. 

“We’ve had to move some players around and it’s a bit out of necessity because we’ve lost some players,” said Cassidy. “So we’ve had to fit some people in and see how it best matches up, and I can’t even tell you if how we start is how we’re going to finish. There’s a bit of the unknown. We need to see how Ottawa’s lines look and who matches up best against their group, and who compliments our forward line. We’ve always factored that in: Not just who you’re playing against, but who you’re playing with on our team.”

What does all of that mean? It means you could see that Chara-McAvoy pairing before the night is out, and Cassidy is ready to keep moving pieces around until he likes what he sees. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings based on morning skate in Ottawa: 


Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

Banged-up Bruins lose two more -- Rick Nash, McQuaid

BOSTON – It’s another day and another injured player, or two, for the Boston Bruins.

Veteran right winger Rick Nash was a late scratch for the Bruins on Monday night against the Blue Jackets after getting banged up in last weekend’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had to exit due to injury in the third period of Monday night’s 5-4 overtime loss at TD Garden.  

“[Nash] got hit in Tampa, so we thought he was fine. He had an upper-body injury,” said Bruce Cassidy. “This morning, pregame skate, we thought he’d be fine, and it turned out after pregame skate, early afternoon, he wasn’t. So, you know, we had to make a call for Anton Blidh.”

The Nash absence forced the Bruins to recall Blidh from Providence on emergency recall and plug him into the lineup not using him in the last couple of road games in Florida, and it also pushed 21-year-old rookie Ryan Donato into a top-6 role alongside David Krejci in his NHL debut. Clearly things worked out for Donato with a 1-goal, 3-point performance in his first NHL game, and that along with some quality organizational depth is helping them withstand some of the injuries.

McQuaid was held to just 10:42 of ice time that was the fewest among all Bruins D-men on Monday night, but it was unclear exactly what befell him on the ice injury-wise.  

It is getting a little ridiculous for a Bruins team that’s missing Patrice Bergeron (fractured right foot), Zdeno Chara (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (sprained left MCL), David Backes (right leg laceration) and now may have to go without Nash (upper body) and McQuaid (undisclosed) as well. Clearly it’s something the Bruins will have to play through for the time being while simply hoping that it all conveniently clears up ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

“You know, you call a player up [from the AHL], right? We signed one out of college; that helped. So, that’s it. [The injuries] are uncontrollable to a certain extent. It’s kind of enough, now. I would agree. We’ve had our share, so let’s get these guys healthy and get ready to play,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know. You’ve got to play the game in front of you and you just hope the string of, kind of, tough luck, is over.

“That’s it. It’s a physical game. We’ve said all along, to have successful seasons, both regular and playoffs, you need a certain level of health. That’s what we’re hoping, that these guys come back, and that’s it. Until then, we plug the holes and play the game in front of you.”

Plugging those holes will continue to get more and more challenging if the Bruins keep losing players from their lineup on a nightly basis as they may have on Monday with both Nash and McQuaid now banged up as well.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Donato impresses in NHL debut

1:13 - Joe Haggerty joins from the TD Garden to discuss the non-call on Brad Marchand’s breakaway, Ryan Donato shining in his NHL debut, and when Patrice Bergeron could be returning.

6:16 - Gary Tanguay, Mike Giardi, and Trenni Kusnierek debate if the Patriots are starting to replace the talent they’ve lost this offseason as they have acquired Adrian Clayborn, Jeremy Hill, and Jason McCourty. 

11:01 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to talk about the Celtics continuing to struggle as the injuries have piled up.