Bruins

Grzelcyk skates at Bruins practice, hasn't been ruled out for Game 5 return

Grzelcyk skates at Bruins practice, hasn't been ruled out for Game 5 return

BOSTON – So the Bruins are saying there’s a chance.

Matt Grzelcyk is still technically under the concussion protocol for the Bruins after getting knocked out of Game 2 with a nasty hit from behind courtesy of Oskar Sundqvist, but he returned to the B’s practice ice on Wednesday morning at TD Garden. Grzelcyk was wearing a red no-contact sweater at practice, but hasn’t been ruled out of a return for Game 5 with a chance that he might be cleared to play ahead of the pivotal Cup Final home game vs. the Blues.

It’s been about a week since Grzelcyk suffered the concussion that got Sundqvist suspended for a game, and he missed each of the last two games in St. Louis while working out on his own back in Boston. He also worked in some power-play drills while skating with the team, which adds some optimism to the possibility he might be able to make a return on Thursday night.

“Grzelcyk skated today, red jersey. He’s still on the protocol,” said Cassidy. “If he gets cleared then he’ll be ready to go. Whether that’s by tomorrow or not I can’t tell you. That’s probably the best I can give you right now. The [injured] guys that are skating are obviously closer [to a return]. Seeing [Grzelcyk] out there today gives you confidence that he’s close.”

Grzelcyk also spoke with the media following Wednesday’s practice, which further raises the speculation that he might be ready to play for Game 5. That would spare the Bruins being forced to throw a young player like Urho Vaakanainen to the wolves or asking too much of a spare defenseman like Steve Kampfer.

“I’m feeling good. It was obviously nice to join back with the team,” said Grzelcyk. “It was nice to be out there and take some reps on the ice. The league handled the hit, so I’d rather not comment on that.”

The 25-year-old Grzelcyk has three goals and seven points along with a minus-2 rating in 19 playoff games and has averaged 16:22 of ice time as an efficient, puck-moving bottom pair defenseman in these playoffs. The numbers aren’t overwhelming, but his quick skating and accomplished puck-moving can be a big strength against a Blues team that’s relying on heavy hits, pressure and aggressiveness to slow down the Bruins attack.

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Patrice Bergeron set to return to Bruins lineup after missing seven games

Patrice Bergeron set to return to Bruins lineup after missing seven games

With the Bruins appearing a little out of focus in the last few games, they will get one of their important leaders back for Monday night’s road game with Patrice Bergeron returning against the Ottawa Senators.

Bergeron has missed the previous seven games while working back from a lower body injury that’s forced him to miss nine of the Bruins' last 11 games, and over the last week, he slowly ramped up to his return to his rightful place this morning centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Bergeron has eight goals and 24 points in 21 games this season while centering two of the top scorers in the league, and is obviously still one of the top two-way centers in the NHL at 34 years old. But amazingly the Bruins went an impressive 6-1-2 in the nine games that Bergeron has missed with injuries as of late, and they pulled off a number of third-period comebacks without their No. 1 center.

That being said, the Bruins have forced Bruce Cassidy to mix and match the lines as of late as Pastrnak’s offensive binge has slowed down and the offense has scored just 13 goals in the last six games while missing a key part of their top line and top power play unit.

Bergeron should help all of these things upon his return while allowing David Krejci and Charlie Coyle to slot into their normal spots in the lineup. But it will be interesting to watch how fully Bergeron has healed up his lower body injury, and whether or not it’s something that might continue to dog him like the chronic groin issues he’s battled over the last few years.

With Bergeron set to make his return, here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Ottawa Senators based on Monday’s morning skate:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
John Moore Matt Grzelcyk

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

With the return of John Moore to good health and a general lack of tight focus to the team recently, the confluence of events pushed the Bruins to make a move ahead of a four-game road trip next week.

The Bruins announced that they have waived veteran defenseman Steve Kampfer at noontime on Sunday for the purpose of sending him down to the AHL. It was clear the B’s were going to opt for the 31-year-old Kampfer rather than Connor Clifton, who just a couple of weeks ago passed the 60 NHL games played barrier that would also require waivers for him to be sent down to the AHL.

There’s a far greater chance that a team would put a claim in on the 24-year-old Clifton, who has two goals and a plus-5 rating in 24 games for the Black and Gold this season.

The final straw for Kampfer was the healthy return of Moore, who missed the first 28 games of the season coming back from shoulder surgery. But Moore has played in back-to-back games for the Bruins and collected an assist in Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Avalanche while showing that he’s all the way back from an injury suffered during last spring’s playoff run.

Kampfer has played in just four games for the Bruins this season as their seventh defenseman after putting up three goals and six points in 35 games as their spare D-man last season. While there’s a chance that a team could put a claim in on Kampfer, the likelihood given his age and experience level is that he’ll head to Providence to stay sharp for when another round of injuries inevitably hit the Bruins on the back end.

There’s also no question that a player being put on waivers that’s been with the Bruins for the last couple of seasons might be enough to also shake the complacency out of a B’s group that’s been sleepwalking against opponents over the last couple of weeks. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, of course, but they have needed a handful of third period comebacks after making slow starts the norm as of late.

There’s also the chance that the Bruins need the cap savings associated with Kampfer’s $800,000 cap hit after Moore’s $2.75 million cap figure was added back onto Boston’s books once he got healthy earlier this week.

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