BRIGHTON, Mass. — With a big home-and-home series against the Toronto Maple Leafs set for the next couple of days, the Bruins opted to give their veteran core group the day away from the ice on Friday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.
It was a maintenance day for Patrice Bergeron (lower body), Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak after scoring 14 of the last 17 goals for the Bruins over the last six games, and both Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug spent the day off the ice as well. Joakim Nordstrom (upper body) and David Krejci (upper body) were also missing from the Warrior Ice Arena sheet at Friday’s practice — and neither of those players will travel to Toronto for Saturday's game.
“We have Backes as an extra that sat out with Nordstrom being out,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, of the expected replacement in the lineup. “He could slot in there. We may decide to get somebody from Providence if we want a different look down there. [Anders] Bjork has been playing well down there, [Brendan] Gaunce has been playing well down there and [Peter] Cehlarik. Those are the names that I have heard amongst other, so those are potential guys.”
Bjork, of course, has been tearing it up since the start of the season with three goals and six points in five games after being one of the last cuts in Bruins training camp. The Bruins wanted to leave him in the AHL for a spell to regain his offensive mojo and it seems pretty clear that he's done that while deserving another NHL look.
The Bruins would prefer to keep him on the left side as they've done all season, and that would easy enough if they swung Heinen to the right side as he's done on multiple occasions over the last few seasons.
While the message wasn’t spelled out by Cassidy following practice, it felt pretty clear given who was on the ice working and who was given a day to rest and recuperate. The Bruins focused on net-drive drills and taking the puck hard to the paint in practice as a reminder for the forwards to simplify their games while looking to produce some much-needed secondary scoring.
Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based on Friday’s practice with Jaroslav Halak getting the start on Saturday night vs the Leafs:
|Brad Marchand||Patrice Bergeron||David Pastrnak|
|Jake DeBrusk||Charlie Coyle||Karson Kuhlman|
|Danton Heinen||Par Lindholm||Brett Ritchie|
|Chris Wagner||Sean Kuraly||David Backes|
|Zdeno Chara||Charlie McAvoy|
|Torey Krug||Brandon Carlo|
|Matt Grzelcyk||Connor Clifton|
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