Bruins

Charlie McAvoy 'disappointed' he won't be playing in Game 1 of ECF

Charlie McAvoy 'disappointed' he won't be playing in Game 1 of ECF

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Charlie McAvoy is understandably bummed he won’t be playing in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final after being suspended one game for his illegal check to the head of Josh Anderson in the series-clinching Game 6 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But the 22-year-old D-man is bound and determined to use the down time as a positive in the middle of a Stanley Cup run that’s approaching a month-plus grind of intense, every-other-day hockey.

“I’m disappointed that I won’t be playing in Game 1. I’d love to be out there. But I have complete faith in this team to go out and play our game in Game 1,” said McAvoy, while serving the first suspension of his NHL career. “I respect the process and I respect their decision. It was tough. I was just trying to make a hockey play and it was unfortunate that it happened that way.

“I have to serve it. I’m looking forward to using this extra time to put myself in the best position to go for Game 2. It’s an opportunity for me to rest some bumps and bruises, and mentally reset to get ready. Once Game 2 comes around, I’m going to do whatever it takes to be ready to go.”

It will obviously be a big loss for the Black and Gold considering that McAvoy is the leading workhorse on Boston's back end while averaging 24:46 of ice time, and posting a goal, six points and a plus-8 in 13 playoff games thus far. 

The Bruins look like they’ll be going with Steve Kampfer added to their D-corps, and surprisingly Connor Clifton was taking some turns with Zdeno Chara on the top defense pairing during Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings for Game 1 vs. the Carolina Hurricanes based on the off-day practice:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

 

Chara-Clifton

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Kampfer

 

Rask 

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Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy: Poor second periods are 'going to bite us in the ass'

Bruins HC Bruce Cassidy: Poor second periods are 'going to bite us in the ass'

BRIGHTON, Mass. — Bruce Cassidy is obviously pleased that the Bruins have jumped out to a 5-1-0 start this season, but the B’s head coach also knows the team is playing with fire when it comes to their lackluster second periods.

Sure, the Bruins are outscoring opponents by a 4-3 margin in second periods this season, so it doesn’t appear to be a big deal statistically. But the B’s have also scored first in five of their six games thus far this season, and that plays into a bit of the middle 20-minute malaise that has been one of Boston’s weak spots in an otherwise encouraging start to the season.

Cassidy went so far as to call the second period effort “exceptionally poor” in Monday’s win over the Ducks as they were outshot 16-6, and admitted after Wednesday’s practice that they’ve been able to get away with the lollygagging as of late against less dangerous teams like the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks. Certainly the superior play of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak in the early going has saved them as well, but that isn’t going to be sustainable against a higher caliber of competition.

In fact that’s going to change with Atlantic Division rivals in the Lightning and the Maple Leafs on the docket over the next week.  

“We could probably fall behind [on the scoreboard] and then we’d see a better second [period]. I don’t want to go down that road if we can help it because we pride ourselves on starting on time. [It’s about] the details of the game and getting their attention,” said Cassidy. “This might happen [against Tampa Bay] or on Saturday. We may start seeing teams that aren’t as offensively challenged as the last few that we’ve had to let them off the hook.

“We might learn just because of the competition that we’re playing. I don’t think it’s anything that they’re not aware of. They lose their focus, they lose their details, the line changes are slower and the puck management is softer. Some of these things they kind of lose their way a little bit. Some of it is on us to get their attention, but some of it is on them that it’s part of their responsibility as well when they step on the ice. I’m not losing my mind over it, but I know it’s something that’s going to bite us in the ass at some point.”

Will the Bruins tighten up their second period issues, or will it be the fatal flaw that sinks them in some ultra-important games against Tampa Bay and Toronto over the next few days? We’ll soon find out as the real regular season begins to get going with Boston’s traditional rivals that can expose weaknesses that have been masked over the first few weeks of the regular season.

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David Krejci leaves Bruins practice early, hasn't been ruled out vs. Lightning

David Krejci leaves Bruins practice early, hasn't been ruled out vs. Lightning

BRIGHTON, Mass. — There’s still plenty of question whether David Krejci is going to play on Thursday night after he exited practice early on Wednesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.

Krejci left Monday afternoon’s win over the Ducks in the second period with an upper body injury that limited him to just seven minutes on the ice, but he did appear at Wednesday’s practice cleared for contact while wearing a normal white practice sweater.

Krejci did leave halfway through the practice session, though, and it was Charlie Coyle centering Jake DeBrusk and Brett Ritchie in a makeshift second line that could be what we see Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bruce Cassidy called things “day-to-day” with Krejci at this point, but didn’t rule him out from playing against Tampa.

“He’s nursing an upper body injury, so he skated half of practice. Tomorrow we’ll see how he is. We’ll rule him as day-to-day and I’m not going to rule him out [against the Lightning] and I won’t say he’s definitely in,” said Cassidy, who also added that defenseman Kevan Miller (fractured kneecap) has begun skating on his own ahead of Bruins practice as well.

The 33-year-old Krejci already missed time at the beginning of the season with a lower body injury suffered during the preseason and will have already missed more games with injuries this season (two) than he did all of last year if he can’t suit up against the divisional rival Lightning. That’s a bit of a warning sign for a player in Krejci who’s had injury issues in his recent past and is an aging player coming off a heavy workload last season with the extra 24 games played during the postseason.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Wednesday’s Bruins practice:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk Charlie Coyle Brett Ritchie
Danton Heinen/David Backes Par Lindholm Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk/Connor Clifton Steven Kampfer

GOALIES

Tuukka Rask Jaroslav Halak

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