|03.20.17 at 4:13 pm ET|
A morning skate at the Air Canada Centre came with an unexpected absence for the Bruins. David Backes, part of the club’s rotating top six right side with David Pastrnak, was not in his semi-usual spot with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Replaced by Jimmy Hayes on the Bergeron, Backes’ absence was not how the Bruins drew up their Monday night plans when they traveled to Toronto yesterday afternoon, of course, but it doesn’t seem to be cause for alarm for B’s interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“He’ll be a gametime decision,” Cassidy said of Backes’ availability for tonight’s game against the Maple Leafs. “A little bit under the weather so we told him to stay home this morning, but I’ll expect he’ll play.”
It’s just another obstacle — though not as severe as those previously encountered — in Backes’ first year in Boston, which has been derailed by an elbow infection and a concussion earlier at different points, and almost by a knee injury last week in Calgary.
But given the importance of this game for the Bruins, who are winless in three prior head-to-heads with the Maple Leafs and holding a mere three-point advantage over the Leafs, it’s safe to assume that Backes will more than likely give it a go tonight.
The only other concern that comes with a sick player dressing though is the risk that there’s a flu going throughout the room.
But Cassidy was quick to shut that down before the start of a pivotal four games in six nights stretch for the club.
“Not really, no,” Cassidy said when asked if there was a bug going through the B’s dressing room right now. “Just David and I think our trainer had the sniffles yesterday, so other than that we’re pretty good.”
Backes has 15 goals and 34 points in 63 games this season.
|03.20.17 at 3:37 pm ET|
The accolades just keep coming for Bruins winger Brad Marchand.
Following a week that included five goals and nine points in just three games for the Bruins’ 5-foot-9 top-liner, the NHL recognized Marchand as the league’s First Star of the Week on Monday.
The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby was honored as the league’s second star and Calgary netminder Brian Elliott was named the third star.
Marchand’s big week began with a third period hat trick that propelled the Bruins to a 6-3 comeback win over the Canucks last Monday. Marchand also recorded an assist in that game. He followed that with a one-goal, two-point performance against the Flames on Wednesday, and added a goal and two assists in Thursday’s loss to the Oilers.
It’s become par for the course for Marchand, who leads all NHL skaters in points since Jan. 1, with 27 goals and 48 points in total.
Marchand has already tied his career-high in goals this season with 37, and has set a new career-high in points, too, with 79.
He enters today three goals behind Crosby for the most in the league, and just one point behind his league-leading 80 points.
|03.20.17 at 3:26 am ET|
Bruins winger Drew Stafford had a more than good enough excuse to miss Sunday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. Stafford, who came to Boston as the father of one, a two-year-old named Mason, is officially a father of three after his wife gave birth to twins over the weekend.
‘Officially’ is a weird tagline when you talk about pregnancies and childbirths, of course, but it completes the relatively unknown timeline that Stafford talked about in regards to his wife when he first arrived to Boston. David Backes, a fellow Minnesotan, revealed that Stafford’s wife was ‘very pregnant’ when he was moved to Boston from Winnipeg. So much so that when Stafford met with her at the airport before his connecting flight somewhere between Winnipeg and Boston, people were actually worried that she was there to catch a flight, which would have been a definite no-no given where she was in her pregnancy.
And as timing worked out, with the Bruins off on Friday and Saturday, Stafford was able to travel back home and be with his wife following the birth of their twins. That travel back to Minnesota obviously led to Stafford’s aforementioned absence on Sunday.
But it was an absence the Bruins can live with, as Bruce Cassidy noted that the newborns were ‘healthy’ and that the veteran Stafford would meet the Bruins in Toronto for Monday night’s game against the Maple Leafs.
The Bruins are prepared for any potential snag in the road back to the B’s that could come Stafford’s way, however, with forwards Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly recalled from the P-Bruins on an emergency basis.
The 31-year-old Stafford, acquired from the Jets for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2018, has recorded two goals and five points in seven games with the Bruins, and six goals and 18 points in 47 games between the B’s and Jets.
|03.20.17 at 2:54 am ET|
This is one big, massive, gigantic week for the Bruins. And it starts with a back-to-back beginning with Monday against the Maple Leafs up in Toronto and then Tuesday night against the Senators in Boston.
The Leafs are just three points back of the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division, have a in game in hand over the Black and Gold, and are 3-0-0 against the Bruins this season. The Sens are ahead of the B’s by four points for second place in the division, and have beat the Bruins in both of their prior meetings this season.
These are the games that the Bruins need Tuukka Rask to show up and stand on his head as he’s done so many times this season.
On back-to-back nights.
A challenge that the 30-year-old would be ready for if given the call.
|03.19.17 at 12:26 pm ET|
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was nowhere to be found on the ice at practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday morning.
But fear not: it was a mere maintenance day for the do-it-all Bergeron according to B’s interim head coach Bruce Cassidy. And it has since been confirmed that Bergeron will travel with the team to Toronto in anticipation of Monday’s pivotal head-to-head with the Maple Leafs.
“I’m expecting him to play,” Cassidy, who gave the team both Friday and Saturday off, said after practice when asked of Bergeron’s official status for tomorrow. “But we’ll know more in a couple of hours.”
In preparation for the unknown, the Bruins have recalled forwards Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly from Providence on an emergency basis.
And with the Leafs behind the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division by just three points and with a game in hand, the Bruins will undoubtedly need Bergeron against a Toronto team that’s smacked them around in the season series so far, with the Maple Leafs outscoring the Bruins 14-to-7 and having won all three prior showdowns.
The 31-year-old Bergeron is on a four-game point streak, with five assists over that stretch, and has totaled 17 goals and 48 points in 68 games this season, including one goal and three points in two games against the Leafs.
|03.19.17 at 10:41 am ET|
After two days of rest away from the rink following their three-game road swing, the Bruins returned to the ice for a Sunday practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and with two reinforcements from Providence.
Down forwards Patrice Bergeron, Drew Stafford, and Tim Schaller (lower-body injury), both Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly have been recalled from the P-Bruins on an emergency basis.
The 25-year-old Acciari has appeared in 19 games with the Big B’s this season, with two assists and four penalty minutes along with 52 hits. Acciari has recorded six goals and eight assists with 11 penalty minutes and a plus-8 rating in 30 games with the P-Bruins this season.
Kuraly has skated in five games with Boston this year, and made his NHL debut on Nov. 3. The 24-year-old forward has appeared in 50 games with Providence, and has scored 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points and 31 penalty minutes and a plus-8 rating.
Both Acciari and Kuraly skated on the fourth line with B’s center Dominic Moore.
The Bruins are in action Monday night against the Leafs.
|03.17.17 at 5:31 am ET|
The Bruins lost — and lost badly — for just the fourth time in their last 16 games on Thursday night. So naturally, there had to be a scapegoat.
No, this couldn’t just be a tired team losing on the second leg of a traveling back-to-back. The Bruins played in Calgary and ended the Flames’ 10-game win streak on Wednesday while the Oilers have been in Edmonton since Mar. 1 and were playing in just their sixth game in the last 16 days. Irrelevant. We need a scapegoat, dammit. This couldn’t be giving the Oilers’ man advantage — which came into action ranked as the 7th-best power play in the NHL with a 21.3 percent success rate — six power-play opportunities, including four in the first 32 minutes of action. I’ve told you already, a scapegoat must be found!
So as it almost always does when this team loses, the ire of B’s fans landed on their goaltender, Tuukka Rask, who allowed five goals on 17 shots and was given the early hook from Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy in what finished as a 7-4 loss for the Black and Gold.
But let’s be real: This loss does not fall on the 30-year-old Rask.
Not if you have a clue as to what you watched happen in front of him on Thursday, anyways.