|03.31.17 at 3:33 pm ET|
Confirmed as the starter following Friday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will play in his third game in five days come Saturday afternoon against the Panthers.
For a team that’s seemingly more mindful of Rask’s workload to close out the season, three games in five nights is not exactly the best recipe for success. But it’s one that makes sense for the Black and Gold.
When you look at this weekend’s slate (the Bruins pack up and immediately head to Chicago for a Sunday afternoon game with the Blackhawks following the conclusion of tomorrow’s game), and their need to win at least one of these two games, it’s clear that starting Rask on Saturday and leaving Sunday undetermined (for the time being) is the best route for B’s interim coach Bruce Cassidy to go.
It’s probably the closest they’d have to automatic.
|03.31.17 at 2:36 pm ET|
Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy has confirmed that the club will be short a few forwards for this weekend’s back-to-back slate.
With Tim Schaller and Frank Vatrano just two of four players missing from Friday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, the B’s boss has noted that both are expected to miss both Saturday’s home matinee against the Panthers and Sunday’s road day game tilt with the Blackhawks.
“They will not play this weekend, they’re still recovering,” Cassidy said.
The Bruins are likely being careful with Vatrano, who suffered the injury in practice on Wednesday before missing last night’s win over the Stars, which makes sense given Vatrano’s importance to the club as a secondary scorer come playoff time if the Bruins indeed make it.
Meanwhile, Schaller has missed the last nine games with a lower-body injury, and continues to get closer to a return, as he cleared for contact yesterday and was part of the club’s morning skate.
“I can tell you for sure he’s going to skate tomorrow,” Cassidy said of Schaller. “But he did get today off.”
The other two players missing from practice, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, were given maintenance days.
Adam McQuaid, who left last night’s game with a leg injury but later return, is also good to go according to Cassidy.
|03.31.17 at 1:56 pm ET|
Down a few bodies on Friday, the Bruins apparently made a call to their affiliate in Foxboro, as Patriots safety Patrick Chung joined them for the on-ice portion of their practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
“That was something said up ahead of time — he wanted to come out and skate with the some of the fellas,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Chung. “Hopefully he had a good time.
“He looked pretty good, he knew what he was doing. Not sure we’re gonna inject him into the lineup just yet, but he looked like he was having a good time and that’s half of it.”
One of the hardest hitting safeties in the league, and a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Patriots, the 29-year-old Chung’s presence at Bruins practice was a continuation of the unofficial partnership the teams in Boston seem to have with one another, and one that many on the Black and Gold seem to have an appreciate for as pro athletes.
“It’s cool to have that camaraderie between teams,” Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said. “It’s the same way — I know a few guys on the Sox, Celtics, and Pats — and it’s just cool to have that between teams.”
But if the Bruins could pick any Patriots player to suit up with them?
“Oh, that’s a tough one. There’s a few guys,” Miller said of the hypothetical. “[Nate] Solder would be a pretty good guy — get him on skates, he’s like what, 6-foot-8, 320, put him on skates and he can be the new [Zdeno] Chara. But Chung was looking pretty good out there, so maybe him. He’s got the speed and agility out there.”
Following practice, Chung, who is a big hockey fan and started skating upon his return to the Patriots, made his way through the B’s locker room with a Bruins jersey featuring No. 23 and his last name, and got his teammates for a day to sign his jersey.
And with five games left and in search of a playoff berth, the B’s bench boss hopes his players did their homework with Chung.
“Hopefully the fellas tapped into a few of those Patriots secrets,” Cassidy said.
|03.31.17 at 4:37 am ET|
The Bruins were just happy to snap their four-game losing streak with last weekend’s win in Brooklyn, and understandably so. They were just happy to get back to their winning ways on home ice in their second straight win this past Tuesday, a 4-1 final over the Predators, too.
But after the club’s third straight win, a 2-0 victory over the Stars on Thursday, the Black and Gold are showing signs of a legitimately good team and finding ways to actually criticize the quality of their wins.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think tonight was our best defensive effort,” Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said after the win. “We got a little bit away from what made us successful the past few games. But, sometimes, you need to win some like that. Tuukka did a great job in front of us and we had a pretty good third period, which was huge.”
Miller’s not totally wrong, of course.
|03.31.17 at 4:09 am ET|
Judging by their pregame press release, it would appear that the Bruins’ ticket offices are going to tempt fate for the third year in a row.
As the Bruins and Stars finished their warm-up of what finished as a 2-0 win for the Bruins, the club’s third victory in a row, the Bruins released a press release noting that first-round playoff tickets will be available for purchase beginning Monday, Apr. 3 at 1 p.m. EST.
Individual tickets will be available for purchase at the TD Garden Box Office, on the B’s official website and on their mobile app, and via phone by calling Ticketmaster. Single game suite rentals that accommodate from 18-60 people and the Garden Greats Suite, that provides fans the opportunity to watch the game alongside a Bruins alumni, will also be available for purchase starting on Monday.
The club did this in both 2015 and 2016 and ended up missing the postseason on the last day of the season both times. But, even with that in mind, this is something that any and every team with playoff hopes has to get ahead of for their fans.
There’s also the positives that come with the Bruins essentially controlling their own fate between now and next week’s finale.
“In the past, maybe we looked at the standings a lot. It’s more about, we’re just taking it day by day, game by game, and just making sure we show up every night,” B’s d-man Kevan Miller said. “We want to make sure we do our job and we should be fine.”
If the Bruins do indeed make the postseason, it would likely be against either the Senators in a matchup of the second and third seeds in the Atlantic Division bracket or against the Capitals or winner of the Metro Division as the East’s second wild card. Either finish would mean that the B’s would begin their series on the road before coming to the Garden for Games 3 and 4.
The Bruins have not qualified for postseason play since 2014.
|03.31.17 at 2:21 am ET|
What a difference a week makes.
It was on this night just seven days ago that Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said that the Bruins needed more from star goaltender Tuukka Rask after a 6-3 loss to the Lightning. Rask would then miss Friday’s practice and Saturday’s game, and put himself in a situation where he had to deliver more for the teammates and coach he let battle in Brooklyn in a must-win without him. And Rask has done just that in back-to-back games, too, after Thursday’s 27-save shutout over the Stars.
In a game that saw the Bruins hold the Stars to just about nothing from prime scoring areas, it looked as if the 30-year-old Rask was going to be on cruise control for the Black and Gold. But late pressure from the Stars — including a four-minute power play that Rask and the B’s snuffed out in the third period — forced Rask to again answer the bell.
|03.30.17 at 10:10 pm ET|
It almost goes without saying that the Stars are not a good hockey team. Not this year, anyways. But they still could have created trouble for the Bruins, which is something that the Black and Gold’s back-to-improving defense undoubtedly noticed and more than took care of in a 2-0 final over their visitors from Dallas on Thursday night.
For the Bruins, the two points were huge, especially on a night in which the Hurricanes, Lightning, and Maple Leafs all won or were winning when the B’s game went final, but it also came with the staple of Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy’s early success with the club, which was improving from an area of weakness from the last game.
Although the Bruins held the Predators to just 25 shots in Tuesday’s 4-1 win, there seemed to be some concern as to the chances that they did let up. The breakdowns between the circles against Tuukka Rask stood out for the Predators — although that’s a large part of their offensive gameplan, especially with elite defensive talents like Roman Josi and P.K. Subban on the points — but those same breakdowns were almost nowhere to be found in this game.