Bruins

First Bruins practice a step toward 'normalcy' for Patrice Bergeron

First Bruins practice a step toward 'normalcy' for Patrice Bergeron

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The first Bruins practice session in four months lasted for about 45 minutes and left everyone involved feeling pretty hopeful about the future for both the team and the NHL as the league embarks on a return to play plan over the next few months.

It’s going to take many things going right for the NHL to pull off the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs amidst a global pandemic. That much is obvious.

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But the Bruins went through a high-paced practice on Monday morning that felt, well, like old times as they ramp up for the next few weeks. Both David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing as they finish off the self-quarantine protocol after traveling back to Boston, but, aside from the coaches wearing masks and an empty building aside from a handful of media, things felt almost normal at Warrior Ice Arena in Monday’s first Phase 3 training camp practice.

“Really good [to be honest with you]. I thought our guys had excellent pace. The execution was pretty good for a first practice. I know a lot of guys have been working and skating, but as a group with a lot of bodies out there I thought the willingness to work was excellent,” said Bruce Cassidy. “The guys were in a good mood. It reminded me a lot of our practices during the year. Guys were working hard and taking care of business, but they are also having fun and chirping each other.

“So it was kind of like where we left off in terms of the mood. I thought the overall rating of it, I really liked it. And the guys in the other sense of it were really happy to be back together. They enjoy each other and obviously were looking forward to getting back to work.”

The players also mentioned “normalcy” as a key word once they get on the ice on Monday after spending the last month skating in smaller groups at voluntary practices. Now they are on the clock with their full team and they’ll be headed to Toronto in a couple of weeks to begin playing games once again.

Patrice Bergeron had a perma-smile on his face that never went away during a Zoom call with reporters, and the joy was obvious at getting back to what they love to do for even a single day.

“100 percent. It was great to be back out there. Mask, no mask in the locker room, it doesn’t matter. It was nice driving to the rink knowing that it’s going to be more than 12 guys at the rink and that the whole group is coming,” said Bergeron. “We have dates set now so it’s a lot easier when you know you're leaving on the 26th.

Normalcy is something we’re all seeking through this pandemic and it was hard for everyone. I’m talking about just life in general. It was hard for a lot of people and it affected a lot of people in different ways. It’s one step toward a little bit more normalcy, I guess.

It wasn't exactly the same for Bergeron as he skated with normal linemate Brad Marchand and Karson Kuhlman with Pastrnak missing from the proceedings for now.

But let’s all hope that normalcy continues as the Bruins keep practicing as they add the rest of their roster players while building toward playing games in just a couple of weeks.

 

Providence Bruins create award dedicated to memory of Colby Cave

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Providence Bruins create award dedicated to memory of Colby Cave

Four months after the tragic death of Colby Cave, the Providence Bruins are taking action to ensure his legacy will not be forgotten.

Cave was just 25 years old when he died in April after suffering a brain bleed.

But now the Providence Bruins have partnered with the Cave Family and the Boston Bruins Foundation to create the Colby Cave Memorial Award to honor his commitment to helping those in need. The award will be presented each season to a deserving Providence Bruins player for their dedication to the community and charitable organizations. 

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“The Colby Cave Memorial Award is a special way to honor and remember Colby for his leadership qualities and humanitarian efforts,” said Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney in a statement. “Driven and committed to be an NHL player, Colby was also uniquely unselfish with teammates and anyone that needed help! Emily, the Cave Family and the entire Hockey World lost a great person who was beloved by everyone that was fortunate enough to spend time with Colby Cave.”

"From the first day he stepped into the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to the day he left for the NHL, Colby Cave inspired each and every one of us with his diligence, selflessness and compassion,” added Providence head coach Jay Leach. “Always the first to help, both with his teammates, and throughout our community, Colby set the precedent that we aspire to uphold."

Cave signed with the Bruins as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and spent several years in Providence where he played alongside Bruins like Jake DeBrusk (also a teammate of Cave's in juniors), Sean Kuraly, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon and others. 

In 239 games with the P-Bruins, Cave often wore the 'A' as the team's assistant captain, racking up 43 goals and 115 points in parts of five seasons. He made his Boston debut in December 2017 and appeared in 23 games with the Bruins over two seasons, but when the team attempted to return him back to Providence in January 2019, he was claimed on waivers by the Oilers, with whom he played 44 games over the last two seasons.

Fans who would like to honor Colby’s memory can do so by donating at BostonBruins.com/Community/Foundation-Donations. The fund’s proceeds go toward community programs with an emphasis on mental health initiatives and providing access to sports for underprivileged children.

NHL Playoffs: Bruins make lineup changes for Game 1; David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask ready to go

NHL Playoffs: Bruins make lineup changes for Game 1; David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask ready to go

The Bruins will have a full, healthy group when they take the ice for Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at the Toronto bubble at Scotiabank Arena.

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask were both part of an optional morning skate on Tuesday and Rask will get the start against the Hurricanes after posting a gaudy .955 save percentage against them in the Eastern Conference Final a little over a year ago. Otherwise, it will be rugged rookie D-man Jeremy Lauzon getting the starting nod for the Bruins on the bottom pairing and Connor Clifton coming out of the lineup after he played well in last weekend’s round-robin finale vs. Washington.

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On Monday, the Bruins readied for the “real games” by watching a video that featured all of the coaches', players' and staff’s families wishing the Bruins well from back home, and sending the message that “we are all in it” from Boston. Now that the glorified exhibition games of the round robin are over with, Cassidy said there’s a tangible note of excitement in the group as they ready for the first round.

This is exactly what the Bruins have been waiting five months for while staying sharp and in shape during a global pandemic.

"I think guys right now are pretty focused on the job at hand. That's Game 1 against Carolina,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I think we've all been looking forward to this first playoff game. I think our guys are excited.

“It’s the way we played at the end of the year [with Lauzon] and we’re not burying that part of the season. Clifton played [a round robin game] and Johnny Moore one game, so we probably made that decision back in training camp with the way we allotted the ice time. At the end of the day if we need to make a switch in the lineup then we will, but we felt that gives us the best balance in our lineup of size and puck-moving ability.”

For the Carolina Hurricanes, they are expected to get Dougie Hamilton back after having not played for the last seven months following a broken leg suffered in the middle of January.

With Lauzon in the lineup and the Bruins settling into their middle-6 lines with Ondrej Kase and Anders Bjork on the right side, here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings set to go up against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night:

FORWARD LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie Charlie Coyle Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Jeremy Lauzon

GOALTENDER

Tuukka Rask