Bruins

Miller (upper body) a question mark for showdown with Maple Leafs

Miller (upper body) a question mark for showdown with Maple Leafs

The Bruins continue to fight the injury bug coming out of the NHL All-Star break with rugged D-man Kevan Miller now a question mark for Saturday night’s game vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper body injury. 

Miller exited Thursday night’s thumping, physical 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues with an upper body injury after just 12:33 of ice time prior to the third period, and he wasn’t on the ice Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena for a very optional Bruins skate. Bruce Cassidy said he wasn’t sure about Miller’s availability against Toronto on Saturday, and also has 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy’s status up in the air after skating again for a second straight day. 

“Kevan is [an] upper body and did not skate today,” said Cassidy. “That will be something we will look at [against Toronto] obviously with Charlie ready. Hopefully one of them will be ready to play for us. If not Paul [Postma] has been sitting and waiting for his chance. So we will have a good [defense] corps for tomorrow. I just can’t tell you right now who it is going to be, unfortunately.”

As Cassidy said following practice, McAvoy has been cleared for all hockey activity less than two weeks after undergoing a procedure for an irregular heart rhythm. The rookie D-man hasn’t been ruled out for Saturday’s divisional showdown with the Maple Leafs, but McAvoy also hasn’t undergone a full team practice with contact since returning to the ice. 

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So it may be that they wait until next week when they can get McAvoy into a full team practice on Monday ahead of back-to-back games on the road against the Red Wings and the Rangers. Either way they’re going to miss Miller’s size and strength in the D-zone and his penalty killing against the high-powered Maple Leafs if he can’t overcome his upper body issue against Toronto.

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Morning Skate: Team USA's medal dreams dashed

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Morning Skate: Team USA's medal dreams dashed

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while disappointed at the whimper that Team USA went out with during a shootout loss to the Czech Republic.

*Here’s the aforementioned rundown on the Team USA loss just ahead of the medal round with the Americans going 0-for-5 in the shootout after battling to a 2-2 tie. Team USA had their chances and Ryan Donato scored another goal, but it’s clear they weren’t one of the more talented teams in the tournament with no current NHL representation.

*Marc Savard is back with another one of his DIY stick-taping videos where, this time, you can learn how to do a candy cane-style tape job just like Phil Kessel on your hockey stick.

*Down Goes Brown has the most annoying things that NHL GMs will say or do around the NHL trade deadline.

*Brad Treliving insists that it was just a coincidence that the Flames’ trip to Las Vegas coincided with the players’ mothers visiting for a road trip.

*Ryan Suter might be getting up there in terms of age and games played, but he is still every bit the workhorse he’s always been while in Minnesota.

*Braden Holtby is going through a tough stretch for the Washington Capitals as the losses are stringing together against him.

*For something completely different: MC Hammer has still got it after all these years.

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After Holden trade, what do Bruins do next?

After Holden trade, what do Bruins do next?

The Bruins made a preemptive move to shore up their defensemen depth nearly a week ahead of the NHL trade deadline, but Don Sweeney isn’t done dealing yet. The B’s are still in the market for a big, experienced winger capable of potentially filling a top-six role and somebody who can also bring more of a size/strength dimension to a group of wingers that are pretty young and pretty undersized outside of David Backes.

The Bruins have expressed interest in Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon and New York’s Rick Nash, and it’s expected that Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner are on their radar as well before the Feb. 26 deadline. While the Bruins might have to give up a decent prospect for a premier rental in Nash, it's not expected that the others will cost the Bruins either an "A" prospect or a top draft pick.  

It’s also expected that the Bruins aren’t going to be very active in potential trade markets for D-men Ryan McDonagh or Nik Hjalmarsson over the next week after shipping Rob O’Gara and a 2018 third-round pick to the New York Rangers for 30-year-old defenseman Nick Holden.

Sweeney wasn’t tipping his hand much after the Holden deal, but indicated that the Bruins are still burning up the phone lines looking for the right moves to support Boston’s playoff run.  

"We’re going to continue to look at the marketplace and see where guys may fit in, who’s available, continue the calls that happen a lot more frequently this time of year and see where it goes,” Sweeney said to reporters in Edmonton. “Our club has played well, but we’ve got a long way to go."

One other thing that the Bruins are clearly trying to do: Move the Matt Beleskey contract if at all possible after burying him in the AHL earlier this season. Hockey sources have indicated to NBCSportsBoston.com that the Bruins talked with the San Jose Sharks about Beleskey and that presumably it would have been in a deal where the B’s would have taken on the rest of Paul Martin’s similarly cap-unfriendly contract.

With the Bruins doing the Holden deal, that should eliminate Martin as a potential player of interest for the Black and Gold.

The Athletic’s Craig Custance reported on Tuesday that the Bruins and Red Wings had preliminary talks about Detroit energy forward Darren Helm. Those discussions are also believed to have been about trying to move Beleskey for a similar contract around the NHL. While there is very clearly a robust market of big, experienced top-six wingers for the Bruins to choose from, it’s going to be a much stiffer challenge for Sweeney to find somebody, anybody willing to take on a Beleskey contract that still has two years at a shade under $4 million per season left on it.   

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