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Charlie McAvoy expected to make pro debut tonight as P-Bruins visit Springfield

04.01.17 at 1:57 pm ET
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Charlie McAvoy is expected to play for the P-Bruins tonight. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

Charlie McAvoy is expected to play for the P-Bruins tonight. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

It might not be in Boston with the Bruins, but the organization’s top prospect, Charlie McAvoy, is officially going pro.

Signed to an amateur tryout by the P-Bruins this week, the 19-year-old McAvoy is expected to make his debut tonight when the club’s AHL affiliate ventures out to Springfield for a Saturday night matchup with the Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center.

McAvoy has had a few days of practice with the P-Bruins (and was even part of the team’s picture day, donning No. 43, a number previously worn by Matt Bartkowski), and will skate on a pairing with team captain Tommy Cross for tonight’s contest.

“Then we kind of all came to the conclusion that I think I’m ready for this step, and the Bruins agreed and they’re very excited,” McAvoy said in an interview with NESN on Friday. “I’m also really excited. I’m looking to just soak up as much information as I can and learn what it’s like to be a professional.”

Drafted with the 14th overall pick in 2016, McAvoy will jump to the pro ranks after two years with the Boston University Terriers, where he tallied eight goals and 51 points in 75 games. McAvoy also won Gold at the 2017 World Juniors Championships with Team USA, where he recorded two goals and six points in seven games as one of the club’s alternate captains.

It remains worth noting that McAvoy cannot play a game for the Bruins this year — regular season or playoffs — without signing his entry-level deal and burning off the first year of his three-year deal.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask will start Saturday, which makes all the sense in the world

03.31.17 at 3:33 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask will start Saturday against the Panthers. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask will start Saturday against the Panthers according to Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

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.

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Bruins forwards Tim Schaller, Frank Vatrano will miss both games this weekend

03.31.17 at 2:36 pm ET
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Frank Vatrano will miss the next two games because of an upper-body injury. (Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports)

Frank Vatrano will miss the next two games because of an upper-body injury. (Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports)

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.

Patriots safety Patrick Chung skates with Bruins at practice

03.31.17 at 1:56 pm ET
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Patriots safety Patrick Chung joined the Bruins for practice on Friday. (Ty Anderson/WEEI.com)

Patriots safety Patrick Chung joined the Bruins for practice on Friday. (Ty Anderson/WEEI.com)

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.

Bruins show they’re back to normal, criticize quality of win over Stars

03.31.17 at 4:37 am ET
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The Bruins were their harshest critics after Thursday's win over the Stars. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins were their harshest critics. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

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.

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Bruins announce first-round playoff ticket info

03.31.17 at 4:09 am ET
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Bruins playoff tickets will go on sale on Monday, Apr. 3. (Robert Mayer/USA Today Sports)

Bruins playoff tickets will go on sale on Monday, Apr. 3. (Robert Mayer/USA Today Sports)

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.

Bruce Cassidy lauds Tuukka Rask as Bruins’ best player in win over Stars

03.31.17 at 2:21 am ET
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Tuukka Rask stopped 27-of-27 shots in a 2-0 win over the Stars. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask stopped 27-of-27 shots in a 2-0 win over the Stars. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

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.

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