Cassidy: Bruins "don't have a regret" about pre-Final scrimmage despite Brad Marchand injury

Cassidy: Bruins "don't have a regret" about pre-Final scrimmage despite Brad Marchand injury

BOSTON – Amid the raft of injuries divulged by the Bruins a few days after losing the Stanley Cup Final was a sprained hand for Brad Marchand.

The Bruins left winger admitted that he re-aggravated a hand injury in the Thursday night scrimmage game at TD Garden ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. It was a play that happened in the first half of the scrimmage when Connor Clifton backed into Marchand and clearly caused him some discomfort in his left hand. Marchand returned to the scrimmage and didn’t miss any time due to the hand injury, but it also seemed like his usual Velcro handle on the puck wasn’t what it normally is while he was nursing the injured hand.  

Marchand struggled with just a couple of goals in the seven-game Stanley Cup Final series, and made a key mistake in the first period of Game 7 that ended up putting the decisive game out of reach for the Black and Gold. So it wasn’t a banner series for No. 63 perhaps in part due to the hand injury suffered by Marchand, and that naturally begs the question of whether the Bruins had second thoughts about holding that scrimmage their 10-day waiting period for the Stanley Cup Final to start.

Not so says head coach Bruce Cassidy.

“I thought [the scrimmage] would be a good one in some way shape or form. How it played out after that, to try to replicate getting back into game mode, getting to the rink, morning skate, video, whatever, rest in the afternoon and come to the rink. That’s a risk. I said it at the time that there’s always a risk involved. There’s a risk in practicing at 11:00 on, that was a Thursday, I believe, Thursday morning,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’re going to have some battle drills. I don’t think you can go 10 days without some level of battle. You’d hope the players are smart enough to keep the battle...avoid contact from behind, all of the things where guys get hurt.

“I don’t have a regret [about the scrimmage], to be honest with you. Our job was to be ready for Game One. I felt we were. We got to our game in the second period. We won the game. We wanted to make sure we didn’t get behind in the series, take us a couple games to catch up. I don’t know. Only Brad can tell you how much it bothered him. At the end of the day, I didn’t think that week had a big factor in the playoffs. Had we started slow or got out of the gate and got up two, three, nothing, you can point to either way. But, it’s 1-1 after two, so probably wasn’t a big factor what we did at all that week. It’s more what happened later in the series.”

It’s certainly true that the latter games of the series were where the Stanley Cup Final was won and lost, but through beginning to end in the series it never felt like Marchand was his normal self against the Blues. It’s true that he could have been just as easily hurt during a morning practice rather than an evening scrimmage, but that’s not how it played out for a Bruins team that came up a little bit short when it mattered most last week. 

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Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Bruins' Zdeno Chara spills the tea on Tuukka Rask's 'awful' farting issue

Zdeno Chara was probably not the Vegas favorite to give the funniest and most entertaining answer of an Atlantic Division Zoom conference call with NHL reporters, but that’s exactly what happened on Monday afternoon.

Chara, Dylan Larkin, John Tavares and Brady Tkachuk answered questions online for 30-plus minutes and the Bruins captain saved his best material when asked which teammate he’d least like to be quarantined with.

His choice was Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and the reasons behind it were pungently amazing.

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Apparently, Rask has an issue in the fart department and it’s chronic enough that his longtime Bruins teammate would not want to be anywhere near him for the stinky aftermath of his beloved chicken wings.

“I have to say Tuukka Rask. The way he farts? The smell is awful,” said Chara. “He likes his chicken wings. And after the chicken wings I’ve had to sit behind him on the bus. I’ve got to tell you. I’ve got to control myself sometimes.” 

How this farting issue remained a well-kept secret within the Bruins locker room over the years is nothing short of amazing. 

Rask has been a regular at Buff’s Pub in Newton over the years while living in the suburban city, so none of this should be surprising information when it comes to Boston’s No. 1 goaltender.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chara singled out Charlie Coyle and Kevan Miller as teammates he enjoys spending time with and guys he wouldn’t mind being quarantined with if he had his choice.

On a more serious note, Chara, who mentioned during the call that he drove to Florida a couple of weeks ago with his family to live in their gated community property, mentioned several times that hockey is secondary right now while the entire world is going through the “strange times” of a global coronavirus outbreak, and thanked the medical personnel, first responders and food delivery people who continue to do their duty under very dangerous, trying conditions. 

Bruins' David Pastrnak gets wistful in tweet about missing hockey

Bruins' David Pastrnak gets wistful in tweet about missing hockey

There’s no doubt it’s hurting hockey fans to not have the NHL as a welcome distraction from the global coronavirus pandemic currently ripping through North America.

But there’s also little question it pains those involved in the NHL even more to not have hockey at a time of year when teams are finishing up the regular season, and gearing up for the best time of year in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Bruins hotshot right wing David Pastrnak sent out a tweet over the weekend that was simple and short with its actual words, but truly conveyed exactly the kind of heartbroken emptiness that the 23-year-old is feeling while house-bound amidst what was the best season of his excellent NHL career.

“Haven’t done the thing for a while…” wrote a wistful Pastrnak without any need to elaborate that he was talking about playing hockey and scoring goals.

For young, single NHL players like the happy, go-lucky Pastrnak this period of time has to be particularly difficult with no immediate family to keep their minds off just how much they are missing hockey in their lives.

Pastrnak was approaching both 50 goals and 100 points for the first time in his NHL career (48 goals and 95 points in 70 games) and was destined to be a Hart Trophy finalist when the NHL regular season was suspended nearly three weeks ago. It feels like hoping for more regular season games is more fantasy than reality at this point, but hockey players like Pastrnak are still clinging to the hope that there will still be some kind of hockey playoffs when some sense of normalcy hopefully returns months from now.

The good news is that guys like Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk are doing something good with their downtime as they played on a Fortnite tournament over the weekend to raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Relief Fund for the WHO (World Health Organization).

NHL players are still currently in quarantine after a handful of them tested positive for the coronavirus over the last week, most notably in Colorado and Ottawa, but at least the league is beginning to host video conference calls between players and the media to make certain that fans can still keep an eye on what their favorite players are up to these days.