Bruins

David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase missing from Bruins' first practice

David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase missing from Bruins' first practice

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins got on the ice on Monday morning for their first day of Phase 3 training camp and, as predicted by GM Don Sweeney, they were missing a couple of players. One of them happened to be the guy who led the league in goals this season.

David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were both missing from the Warrior Ice Arena practice facility on Monday while the two international players are presumably serving out their self-quarantine period after traveling back from their native Czech Republic.

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Sweeney said there would be a couple of international players missing from the practice group at the outset of training camp, but the expectation is that they’ll be in the fold within a day or two.

“With Kase and [Pastrnak] because of when they got here [to Boston], they have to have enough [negative COVID-19] tests,” said Cassidy, of the self-quarantine criteria that needs to be met before players that travelled internationally can join the Phase 3 practice group. “There are some guys going out in a later group because of the numbers. I would expect a few more will join us tomorrow and then we’ll go from there on a daily basis to see where they’re at.”

With Pastrnak and Kase both missing from the top-6, the Bruins had Karson Kuhlman and Anders Bjork taking their place on the top two lines, with an interesting looking third line of Nick Ritchie, Charlie Coyle and Sean Kuraly that could be a muscle-bound handful in the playoffs for opponents. It was also good to see all of the Bruins coaching staff was masked up while practice was going on, a practice one would expect to keep throughout the Return to Play process.

Bruins reserve players Urho Vaakanainen, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh and Dan Vladar were also missing from the B’s practice ice this morning with three of the four presumably also serving out self-quarantine after coming back from Europe.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings that took the ice for the first Bruins practice session on Monday with the group expected to fill out over this week:  

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Karson Kuhlman
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Anders Bjork
Nick Ritchie Charlie Coyle Sean Kuraly
Joakim Nordstrom Par Lindholm Chris Wagner
Paul Carey Jack Studnicka Zach Senyshyn

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Jeremy Lauzon
John Moore Connor Clifton
Jakub Zboril  

GOALTENDERS

Tuukka Rask Jaroslav Halak Max Lagace

Bruins vs. Flyers overreactions: B's in danger of earning low seed from round robin?

Bruins vs. Flyers overreactions: B's in danger of earning low seed from round robin?

The Boston Bruins entered round robin play as the co-betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup, but they sure didn't look like a championship contender against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon. 

The Bruins were out-played in just about every facet of the game in a 4-1 loss to the Flyers in the Toronto bubble. Jaroslav Halak was called on to start in net for Boston after No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask (illness) was ruled out, and he allowed four goals on 29 shots.  

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Let's take a look at three instant overreactions from Bruins-Flyers and assess their merit (All advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick).

1. Bruins won't earn the No. 1 seed
Verdict: Overreaction

The Bruins have their work cut out for them after dropping their first round robin game, but they still have a chance to earn the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. For starters, they have to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday to give themselves a real chance. An overtime or shootout loss to Tampa Bay would put the B's in very real danger of earning the No. 3 or No. 4 seed after ending the regular season with the league's best record. Luckily for Boston, any ties in the round robin standings after three games will be decided by regular season points, and the Bruins would win those tiebreakers as the Presidents' Trophy winners.

So, while there's still a chance for the Bruins, their next two games will be pretty tough. The Lightning have already beaten the Bruins three times this season, and the Capitals have won 16 of the last 18 meetings with Boston dating back to 2014. Having a full, healthy lineup is most important for the Bruins, but seeding is vital as well, especially in this unique playoff setting where the league will re-seed after every round instead of using a traditional postseason bracket.

2. Anders Bjork belongs in the lineup
Verdict
: Not an overreaction

Bjork, who played primarily on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Karson Kuhlman, was among the few bright spots in Sunday's defeat. The B's enjoyed a 15-4 edge in shot attempts and a 9-4 scoring chance advantage when the 23-year-old forward was on the ice during 5-on-5 action. He also drew two penalties on offensive zone entries, although Boston was unable to score on either power play. Bjork played with the type of aggressiveness and confidence you don't often see from a young player with no previous playoff experience. It was a very encouraging performance from a player who the Bruins envision being a dependable second or third line player for the foreseeable future.

3. Lack of production from top players is concerning
Verdict
: Overreaction

The "Perfection Line" didn't live up to its name Sunday, but it's still way too early to worry about what's arguably the best trio in the league. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all failed to score a goal or tally an assist, and together they combined for just two scoring chances and zero high-danger shot attempts during 5-on-5 play. Four shots on goal in 8:19 of 5-on-5 ice time for the Bruins' best line isn't going to get the job done, either. The Flyers' top line, anchored by defensive stalwart and Selke Trophy finalist Sean Couturier, decisively won its matchup against the Bergeron line.

Boston's top trio totaled 47 percent of the team's goals during the regular season, and the Bruins' playoff run in the bubble won't last long if Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak aren't producing offensively. 

David Krejci also didn't play well. The veteran center was held scoreless, took one penalty and tallied three shots. He won only one of his nine faceoffs. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara failed to deliver as well. The B's captain was on the ice for only six of Boston's shot attempts and 20 of Philly's shot attempts at 5-on-5. His turnover in the neutral zone late in the second period paved the way for the Flyers' third goal, which came only eight seconds after the Bruins scored to trim the deficit to 2-1.

Boston's veteran core knows what it takes to win in the playoffs, and this group's wealth of experience will ensure it doesn't panic ahead of Wednesday night.

Bruins vs. Flyers Talking Points: Boston's top players absent in 4-1 loss

Bruins vs. Flyers Talking Points: Boston's top players absent in 4-1 loss

GOLD STAR: Philippe Myers was something special for the Flyers in his first postseason experience. Myers clinched the game for Philly when he scored a goal eight seconds after the Bruins had halved the Flyers lead to 2-1 in the second period. Myers rifled one past Jaroslav Halak from long range and that truly deflated the B’s when it looked like they were just working to get back into the contest. Myers was dominant beyond the screaming slap shot, however, and finished with a game-high five shots on net and nine shot attempts overall in his 17:51 of ice time to go along with a couple of hits, a blocked shot and a plus-3 rating. Several of Philly’s role players and young guys played well for them in this game, and Myers was definitely one of them.

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BLACK EYE: Where were Boston’s best players? The B’s Perfection Line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for just one shot on goal apiece until late into the game and were on the ice for a couple of goals against in a truly atrocious showing. Bergeron was active for the Bruins and was more of a factor at both ends of the ice throughout, but Pastrnak and Marchand both played passive, uninvolved games where it looked like they didn’t want to shoot the puck. As we’ve learned in the playoffs for the B’s over the last couple of seasons, Boston doesn’t have much chance at success when their top guys play that way against a good team. Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak finished a combined minus-8. Yikes.   

TURNING POINT: The Bruins got a blue collar fourth line goal from Chris Wagner after he banged home a shot off a skate in front of the Philly net and it looked like they were beginning to dig themselves out after falling behind by a 2-0 score. But then the B’s had a breakdown off the next face-off when Zdeno Chara turned a puck over and then fell down to the ice, and that opened up the ice for the Flyers counter-attack. Phillippe Myers skated to the open space and blew a slapshot top corner right on past Jaroslav Halak for a backbreaking goal that put the B’s back behind by a pair of scores. From that point on, the B’s did very little offensively and couldn’t get on the scoreboard.

HONORABLE MENTION: Probably the best player on the ice for the Bruins was Charlie Coyle, and he centered their best line with Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman. Coyle was fast, strong and physical with his play and had five shot attempts along with three hits in 21:34 of ice time. It’s along the same lines as Coyle’s efforts last postseason for Boston where he was consistently one of their best players with his speed/strength game really playing into the postseason. Bjork and Coyle had some of the best scoring chances for the Bruins and Bjork drew a couple of penalties while the third line was really humming, so it wasn’t Coyle all by himself. That being said, the Bruins are going to be in tough shape if their third line is their best line in most of these playoff games.  

BY THE NUMBERS: 76 – the number of consecutive playoff starts with the Bruins for Tuukka Rask that was snapped when he didn’t feel well and couldn’t play Sunday afternoon against the Flyers.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I’m thinking we need to make a better friggen’ play with the puck and that’s what I’m thinking. We need to make better plays with the puck.” –Bruce Cassidy, on what he was thinking of some of the plays that transpired in the loss to Philadelphia.