Today’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena comes with a lot of news—some good, some bad.
Injuries have been piling up on the Bruins early on in the season. Right as someone comes back, someone else goes down. Today, it was Tuukka Rask who went down. The injury occurred during a collision with rookie Anders Bjork, and Rask had to be helped off the ice. Bruins reporter Matt Kalman described Rask as looking “whoozy” as he headed to the locker room. Keep your fingers crossed that this does not keep Rask out for significant time. The Bruins lack goaltending depth, especially after losing Malcolm Subban on waivers to the Golden Knights.
There was no update on Rask following the practice.
On a more positive note, both Patrice Bergeron and David Backes practiced for the second straight day. Bergeron was still wearing a non-contact jersey, which does not look good for his chances to return Thursday night. This Bergeron situation is getting frustrating; head coach Bruce Cassidy hints at a possible return each game, but the games are starting to really add up.
Injured Sunday in Vegas, Adam McQuaid returned to practice, while Ryan Spooner was the lone absentee.
With the team’s early struggles, multiple changes were made to the forward lines and defensive pairings, and Cassidy decided to add even more youth. Forwards Kenny Agostino and Peter Cehlarik were both recalled from Providence and skated on a line with Riley Nash.
Agostino (2 goals, 5 assists) and Cehlarik (2 goals, 3 assists) have been dominant in the P-Bruins’ first three games of the season, resulting in Agostino being named the AHL’s Player of the Week. They slotted into Matt Beleskey’s and Frank Vatrano’s spots on Wednesday. There is no room for players to underperform on this team. There are plenty of players in this organization chomping at the bit to make the leap into the NHL. A few bad games can result in a player losing his job to the next man up.
Here are the lines the team practiced with:
Having Bergeron and Backes back allows Cassidy to split up DeBrusk and Bjork, alleviating some of the pressure these rookies have faced so far. Backes was highly criticized for his play last season, but his strength, puck control and leadership should bring some stability to the revolving door of a third line that is yet to find its way.
Cassidy elected to try out three new defense pairings, with Charlie McAvoy moving up alongside Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo moving down to slot in with Torey Krug and the physical Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid making up the third pairing.
Last spring in the playoffs, McAvoy thrived in his first six NHL games while playing with Chara. The 19-year-old rookie should learn a lot while skating with the 20-year NHL veteran who doubles his age. Carlo spent his rookie season next to Chara, so playing with the smaller, speedier Krug will be a big change for him. The Miller-McQuaid pairing might not be the quickest duo in the league, but it’s going to take some brave opponents to go into the corners against it.
[Photo via NBC Sports]