Bruins

Bergeron returns to B's practice, doesn't look like he'll play vs Avs

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Bergeron returns to B's practice, doesn't look like he'll play vs Avs

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins aren’t officially ruling out Patrice Bergeron for Monday afternoon’s matinee against the Colorado Avalanche, but it’s a good bet that No. 37 will miss his second straight game for the Black and Gold. 

Bergeron was wearing a maroon non-contact practice jersey while doing line rushes with his teammates on Sunday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, but the 32-year-old center didn’t finish practice with the Bruins after getting on the ice early to skate on his own. Bergeron and Ryan Spooner alternated shifts centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak during practice, and Cassidy said that he wouldn’t fully rule out Bergeron until Monday morning.

“He didn’t finish practice. He started it and took some line rushes, so he’s progressing,” said Cassidy. “How far he’s progressed is something we’ll determine in the morning. We’ll make a decision then as well. We’ve got three of [the game-time decisions], but Torey Krug and Austin Czarnik look a little closer [to playing] than Bergeron. But I wouldn’t rule any of them in or out until [Monday].”

Bergeron has now made it through just two partial practices in the last week while missing the season opener on Thursday night, and further compounds the difficult of him being in playing shape sooner rather than later. It’s pretty clear there is some frustration from the four-time Selke Winner at not being able to get off to a healthy start in each of the past two seasons, and watching when he’d much rather be competing.  

“I’m in the same spot. I’m day-to-day, but it was good to stay on the ice with the team. It’s definitely a step forward. I’m feeling good but we want to be cautious, so the status is the same I guess,” said Bergeron, who said he initially suffered the lower body injury in practice and then tweaked it when he attempted to skate in the middle of this week before exiting the ice early. “It is frustrating anytime. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning or any time during the year. You don’t want to miss games. It’s tough to watch. 

“I would definitely rather be on the ice. I’m more nervous watching than actually playing, so hopefully I’ll get back quickly. I’m not ruled out, but we’ll see what happens.”

With Bergeron expected out and both Krug and Czarnik looking like they may play on Monday afternoon vs. the Avs, here are the line combos and D-pairings from Sunday’s practice: 

 

Marchand-Spooner-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Bjork

Schaller-Nash-Kuraly

Beleskey-Czarnik-Vatrano

Bergeron

 

Chara-Carlo

Miller-McAvoy

Krug-McQuaid

Grzelcyk-Postma

 

Rask

Khudobin

Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

Bruins look for another turning point with rugged trip ahead

When the Bruins take the ice against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night deep in the outer reaches of Western Canada, there will be a couple of things at play. One will be the start of a long sprint to the end of the regular season with 27 games in a scant 52 days with no more long breaks to catch their collective breath.

The worst of the worst will be 16 games in March, which could be the thing that ultimately knocks the Black and Gold down a peg after they’ve managed to play through everything else this season.

Trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning by just a couple of points for the NHL’s top spot, the Bruins know the schedule itself will be one of their biggest challenges of the season.

“We’re certainly aware of our schedule the rest of the way, and we know that it’s going to be a challenge. There aren’t too many more days off and we’re pretty much playing every other day,” said Patrice Bergeron. “So some of it will be about getting the proper rest and making sure we’re doing everything to be ready to play. But this has also been a group that’s done a really good job of handling other things that have been thrown at us whether it’s injuries or something else. This is just another challenge to take on.”

But the other, smaller picture is of the five-game trip through Canada with a final stop in Buffalo next Sunday. The Bruins will play those five games in ten days in their longest trip of the regular season. They hope to conjure up some of the same mojo that kicked off their three-month winning binge way back in mid-November. It was then that the Bruins righted the ship on a trip through California and won games in Los Angeles and San Jose that kicked off a four-game winning streak that helped change the season.

The Bruins are much more comfortable now with a giant cushion for a playoff spot and a legitimate chance to overtake the Lightning, but Bruce Cassidy is hoping to see the same kind of hunger in this particular long stretch away from home.

“This is much more about what we are and what we look like, but having said that the [California trip] was the beginning of us [turning things around]. It had us gutting out some wins in typically tough places to play like L.A. and San Jose. [Anton] Khudobin was in net and we were relying on some call-up guys, but that was really when our D-corps really stiffened up,” said Cassidy. “It kind of got us back to our heads above water, and from there we kind of took off. But now this is a different group in a different position, and we’re pushing to be in a different position.

“I think you can say Tuukka [Rask] won us all these games or [Brad] Marchand or [Patrice] Bergeron. Our best players have been our best players, but our support players have been very good, especially on those nights when we’ve needed to lean on them a little more when they’ve able to shut down [the Bergeron Line]. I think our support players deserve a lot of credit for that.”

The Bruins clearly hope this mammoth trip can be another seasonal turning point that pushes them in a direction toward a strong, decisive finish to the marathon of a regular season.

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Report: Jake DeBrusk must be included in any deal for Ryan McDonagh

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Report: Jake DeBrusk must be included in any deal for Ryan McDonagh

While Bruins fans might have high hopes that their team is going to be able to land a veteran, proven No. 1 defenseman like Ryan McDonagh in exchange for a song, a bag pucks and a third round pick, that isn’t going to happen. 

The New York Rangers would want Bruins rookie left winger Jake DeBrusk included in any potential deal for McDonagh, according to Edmonton hockey insider Jim Matheson. The report flies in the face of speculation they might be willing to accept unproven prospects like Trent Frederic or Jack Studnicka. The expectation is that the Rangers would be looking for proven, young NHL assets if they were to part ways with a 28-year-old McDonagh, who is signed through next season. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility they’d be looking for DeBrusk, Brandon Carlo and a draft pick for a frontline D-man signed through next season. 

MORE ON BRUINS AHEAD OF TRADE DEADLINE:

The 21-year-old DeBrusk has 11 goals and 29 points in 51 games for the Bruins, and has done a really nice job as the hard-working, skilled left winger alongside David Krejci for the balance of his rookie season in the NHL. DeBrusk hasn’t exactly been brilliant in his first season, but he’s shown the kind of skills and leadership qualities to be a very good and productive player for the Bruins for a good, long time. 

Clearly McDonagh would be a good fit for the Bruins as a player that would fortify their top-4 on the back end and potentially form a great pairing with 20-year-old Charlie McAvoy. The veteran Blueshirts defenseman would also give the Bruins a high-caliber veteran ready to take over the head of Boston’s D-corps when 40-year-old Zdeno Chara eventually calls it a career. 

But the sense around McDonagh and the Rangers is that Jeff Gorton wouldn’t pull the trigger with him unless he gets an offer he can’t refuse from Boston, Tampa, or any other interested suitors. The Rangers are under no real pressure to move McDonagh right now, and could certainly get a similar, if slightly lesser, haul in June if they opted to trade the defenseman around NHL Draft weekend.

The bottom line for the Bruins remains the same: Don Sweeney should tread carefully when it comes to significantly altering the DNA of a Bruins hockey club that’s threatening for the President’s Trophy this season, and has been the best team in the NHL over the last three months. Removing multiple players like DeBrusk or Carlo from their current group could be the kind of alterations that change the Bruins chemistry for the worse, and that would be a shame after what the Bruins have built up over the course of this season. 

The bottom line is this: Sweeney and the Bruins are in a great spot right now with a high-performing team and a wealth of good prospects, but this is when the decisions start getting really difficult with the wrong moves coming with significant consequences. 

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