Could two goals in the Bruins scrimmage spark David Pastrnak?

Could two goals in the Bruins scrimmage spark David Pastrnak?

BOSTON – Certainly an intra-squad scrimmage isn’t going to amount to much in the grand scheme of things once the Stanley Cup Final gets going at the start of next week.

But maybe, just maybe, Bruins right winger David Pastrnak can start catching fire offensively in the best-of-seven game series against the St. Louis Blues after scoring a couple of goals in Thursday night’s glorified practice. Pastrnak and David Backes both scored two goals apiece in the 5-3 final score in the intra-squad, and Pasta does have a solid seven goals and 15 points along with a plus-7 in 17 games during the playoffs.

“It was good. I’m going to give it to Jaro [Halak] a little bit,” said the Czech-born Pastrnak, who scored both of his goals against B’s backup Jaroslav Halak. “He’s Slovakian, so I love to score on him. I’ve never practiced so many days without a game before, so [the scrimmage] is going to be useful.”  

Certainly Pastrnak was being tongue-in-cheek about scoring on his own goalie, but the truth is that the 22-year-old hasn’t really enjoyed a truly dominant stretch in this postseason to this point aside from notching two-goal games against both Toronto and Columbus in the first couple of rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Certainly part of that is the tight-checking nature of the playoffs and the best teams’ top lines cancelling each other out in most games. But there’s also a sense that Pastrnak hasn’t been able to unleash his big shot on the power play with much regularity, and a legit curiosity factor as to whether or not he’s playing through some kind of injury.

As he said during the Columbus series when things were a little slow offensively, Pastrnak is doing the best he can and has certainly seen an uptick in his involvement since joining back up with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the Perfection Line.

“I think we’ve done just fine. We’re just playing as a team and every single night it’s somebody else’s turn to shine. That’s what the good teams do,” said Pastrnak. “It’s unbelievable how good every line has been in different games, and that’s what so much for us to enjoy in the room.

“I’m doing my best. Every game is different. Obviously there have been games where I’ve been better and there have been games where I’ve been worse, but this is not what I’m focusing on. I’m focusing on trying to help the team rather than whether I’m scoring or not.”

Still, Pastrnak only had six shots on net in the entire four-game conference final series against the Carolina Hurricanes, and he should be more of a consistent threat than that when he’s healthy and going well. So perhaps that scoring burst in the scrimmage can light the candle that ignites the flame on Pasta’s offense at a crucial time when a hot goal-scorer could carry his team to the Stanley Cup. 

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Bruins roster reset: Big decisions loom entering 2019-20 season

Bruins roster reset: Big decisions loom entering 2019-20 season

Even though the Boston Bruins made a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019, general manager Don Sweeney doesn't plan on simply running back the same roster for the 2019-20 campaign. 

"We have some RFA stuff that we have to take care, and then I go from there," Sweeney said Monday. "I think we have areas that we would like to continue to address, whether that’s internally or externally, not just through free agency but through trades. We’re going to be active in trying to address those." 

Whether those trades include trading an aging David Backes, selling high on star defenseman Torey Krug or aggressively pursuing a hard-nosed right wing to bolster either the first or second line, the Bruins have options.

However, retooling the roster could be complicated because many of Boston's under-contract players have either no-movement or some degree of no-trade clauses. (The difference between the two is that a player with a no-movement clause can't be waived or sent down to the minors without a player's consent). Modified no-trade clauses typically entail a limited list of teams a player would accept a trade to.

Among the restricted free agents Sweeney mentioned include key postseason contributors Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Boston will also have to make decisions on unrestricted free agents Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari. 

Below is a full breakdown of the Bruins' roster, via Spotrac

Under Contract: 
Patrice Bergeron (Modified no-trade clause)
David Backes (Modified no-trade clause)
Zdeno Chara
Connor Clifton
Charlie Coyle
Jake DeBrusk
Matt Grzelcyk
Jaroslav Halak
David Krejci (Full no-trade clause)
Torey Krug (modified no-trade clause)
Sean Kuraly
Karson Kuhlman
Brad Marchand (No-movement clause)
Kevan Miller
John Moore
Joakim Nordstrom
David Pastrnak
Tuukka Rask (modified no-trade clause)
Chris Wagner
Kyle Keyser

Restricted Free Agents: 
Brandon Carlo
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
Ryan Fitzgerald
Danton Heinen
Steve Kampfer
Charlie McAvoy
Gemel Smith
Zane McIntyre
Peter Cehlarik

Unrestricted Free Agents: 
Noel Acciari
Marcus Johansson
Mark McNeill
Lee Stempniak
Jordan Szwarz

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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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