Bruins

Bruins' David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase might not practice until Thursday

Bruins' David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase might not practice until Thursday

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Another day passed without David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the ice at Bruins Return to Play camp, and now it looks like they may not skate with the full group until Thursday at the earliest.

Both players are in the midst of going through quarantine and COVID-19 testing before being cleared by the B’s medical advisors and staff to practice with the rest of the group, and it’s ending up taking more than the one or two days the B’s expected in the first place.

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Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t say for sure if Pastrnak and Kase would be on the ice with the smaller group on Wednesday, or if they might skate on their own at Warrior Ice Arena at some point during the day. The expectation is, however, that Pastrnak and Kase will be part of a full practice group on Thursday that should also include Trent Frederic, who skated on his own with Bruins skating coach Kim Brandvold at Warrior on Tuesday morning.

The expectation is that missing the first three days won’t be too detrimental for Pastrnak and Kase provided they are taking part by the end of the week.

“Let’s just assume they get back into the mix Thursday with the group. I don’t think they will be too far behind. I think some European players were in countries where they were free to skate earlier, so they might have had the benefit of skating while guys couldn’t here,” said Cassidy of Pastrnak, who was skating with Czech pros as of a few weeks ago before heading back to Boston. “But the rules were that when you come back you had to quarantine for ‘X’ amount of time, so I don’t hold it against them. Those were the rules in place and they were kind of fluid as we went along.

“Now if they came back the day before [camp started] and were told they needed to sit for 14 days, then that probably wouldn’t have been the wisest move. If they’re in with the group on Thursday and they look good, healthy and fit and [good] conditioning, then I think they’ll catch up in a hurry and we’ll be fine.”

Urho Vaakanainen, Anton Blidh and Daniel Vladar all joined the B’s camp group on Tuesday for the first time and Anders Bjork was bumped up to right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand after really popping in Day One of camp.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings for Day 2 of Return to Play camp with the Bruins going for more than an hour after a quick 45-minute practice on the first day:

Bruce Cassidy says Bruins will be making changes for Game 3; Is it Jack Studnicka time?

Bruce Cassidy says Bruins will be making changes for Game 3; Is it Jack Studnicka time?

The Bruins are expecting to make some lineup adjustments headed into Game 3 after the Hurricanes evened the series 1-1 apiece in Thursday night’s 3-2 loss in the Toronto bubble at Scotiabank Arena.

Bruce Cassidy said the B’s have some banged-up players that will also have to be factored in as well, but it sounded like he was looking to go a little smaller and faster with his group to counteract some of the speed and aggressive pressure that the Hurricanes are throwing at them.

“We’ve thought it through. There are always day-to-day bumps and bruises, but we’ll be making changes both at forward and at [defense]. Some of that is getting some energy in the lineup and changing the look of our forward group,” said Bruce Cassidy of his Game 3 lineup vs. the Hurricanes.

“Overall [Anders Bjork] did what he could with his skill set to help that line. Nobody is going to replace Pastrnak, but if guys can go in there and complement Bergeron and Marchand and help them create some offense, then they’ve done a good thing. [Bjork] may not go back there, but I don’t think that’s why we feel a goal short [in Game 2].”

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Cassidy said he “anticipates” that Rask will start Game 3 on Saturday at noontime and that David Pastrnak “could possibly play” as a game-time decision after he didn’t practice on Friday with small optional group.

Ideally, the B’s would like to have Pastrnak be able to test out the injury in practice ahead of trying to give it a go in a game, but they won’t get that chance with a noontime start on Saturday after the 24-year-old Pasta didn’t skate on Friday.

“There were some good goals and good saves, but in those one-goal games each goalie needs to make one more save along the way [if they hope to win],” said Cassidy of Rask, who has a “meh” .899 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average in two games vs. Carolina.

“We didn’t get it and they did, and the opposite was true the game before. I think [Rask’s] game can grow like all of our games. The goalie position is probably a tougher one to get up to speed with not a lot of room for error.

“All of the goalies coming back are all in that same position. Hopefully he’ll be better [in Game 3] and we’ll be better in front of him.”

The bet here as far as the lineup changes go? One would expect that Nick Ritchie would be coming out after he was a non-factor in Game 2 with just 10:45 of ice time, and Jeremy Lauzon as well after playing just 13:16 of ice time and taking an early undisciplined penalty chasing after Carolina players after a clean hit laid on Karson Kuhlman.

If Pastrnak can’t play Game 3 and the speedy, responsible Kuhlman stays in the lineup that could open up a chance for rookie Jack Studnicka to play right wing on either the first or third line with Anders Bjork swinging over to his natural left wing side.

Studnicka is the only player the Bruins have among their current reserves that could really make a significant offensive impact with the kind of upside where the 21-year-old could be a difference-maker in a possible one-goal game. So it would make sense that the kid gets the call if the Bruins are looking for energy and a little offense with Pastrnak’s skill set potentially missing from the Game 3 lineup. 

Studnicka played in the first game of the round robin and didn't do much beyond some nice hustle plays on the back-check, but it's pretty clear he has top-6 skill and goal-scoring abilities. 

On defense, it might be time for Cliffy Hockey and Connor Clifton after he played a gritty, agitating game in the round-robin finale against the Washington Capitals. Clifton could play a role similar to the one that Haydn Fleury has played very well for the Hurricanes as a D-man that’s been unafraid to stir things up physically against the Bruins.

NHL Playoffs: David Pastrnak's absence exposed huge issue for Bruins

NHL Playoffs: David Pastrnak's absence exposed huge issue for Bruins

The Boston Bruins experienced something scary Thursday: They had to play a game without a star player. 

That sound you hear is absolutely nobody shedding any tears for the Bruins, especially around the NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning sure would like to have Steven Stamkos, but they're plugging along. 

Yet the Bruins being without David Pastrnak in Game 2 against the Hurricanes served as a reminder of a major problem with Boston's roster: Their depth on the wing is nonexistent. 

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In looking at what might sink the Bruins this postseason, my biggest guess was production from wingers outside of Brad Marchand and Pastrnak. Aside from the Bergeron line, there Boston doesn't have a single line with two set-it-and-forget-it wingers. Ondrej Kase has been OK so far with David Krejci, but he'll need to be better. Jake DeBrusk is a good player who has struggled to finish.

What should really illustrate the issue is that Nick Ritchie is not only in the lineup, but on Boston's third line. 

So when Pastrnak was deemed unfit to play in Game 2, there was a domino effect that Boston didn't really have the pieces to withstand in a 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes. Anders Bjork jumped up to Pastrnak's spot and Karson Kuhlman played on the third line. 

The Bergeron line was still good for Boston, the second line allowed a pair of goals and the third line rarely had the puck. There were other reasons for this -- most notably Carolina needing to come out and carry the play -- but all it took was one injury to significantly weaken the Bruins. 

That's where you just can't help but still dwell on how the Bruins approached the trade deadline. Last year, they needed help on the wing and Don Sweeney made a smart move for Marcus Johansson. This year, the focus at the deadline was creating cap space. They did this by paying the Anaheim Ducks a first-round pick and a prospect (Axel Andersson) to take 75 percent of David Backes' contract and throw in Kase. They then downgraded from Danton Heinen to Ritchie, which saved them over $1.3 million. 

Those moves would have been good if it meant they used all that money they saved to get a sure-thing forward they could play at the wing. New Jersey Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri, an annual 25-goal scorer, was available for the right price. Tyler Toffoli was rumored to be on the Bruins' radar, but went to the Vancoucver Canucks for a player, a prospect and picks. 

So while the cash-strapped Bruins managed to create space at the deadline, they opted against using that space to improve a team that was on its way to the Presidents' Trophy. Meanwhile, the Lightning were adding real pieces like Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman. 

Kase has been good so far. If he can continue to get better playing alongside Krejci, that checks a major box. Ritchie is what he is. The Bruins would have been better off keeping Heinen, as that trade just created another hole. 

The Bruins need more on the wing, and they don't really have it. If Pastrnak's injury is serious, Sweeney's trade deadline oversight could be even more costly.