On Tuesday, the Boston Bruins held their first official team practice since the regular season ended. A few noteworthy items presented themselves before Game One against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
“It’s Toronto now…”
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy made it clear during his press conference Tuesday afternoon that what happened in the regular season is in the past, and the Boston Bruins are now completely focused on the task at hand. That task? Beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Cassidy went on to speak about how a sense of rejuvenation was in the air, and that he could definitely tell things had been taken up a notch as puck drop looms in the coming days. Boston has their work cut out for them, Toronto went 3-1-0 against the Bruins this season following up on going 4-0 in 2016-17.
The team had Monday off, which was well deserved after a grueling March and April schedule came to a finish with 9 games in 15 days.
Patrice Bergeron spoke about the gauntlet to end the regular season, and getting a breather on Monday:
"It was nice to get the day and be back at work today, looking forward to a tough but good series. The rest is always good and I’ve been out for four weeks but my wingers weren’t, for them I think it was good. That being said, I think we’re looking forward, not thinking too much about that. We’re here for game one, for Thursday, that’s the only thing we can concentrate on right now."
The Bruins as a whole will look to show that going 5-3-2 over the last ten games is in the rear view mirror and that the struggles, such as allowing the first goal in each of the last seven games were just a matter of fatigue as the regular season ended.
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Cassidy said multiple times Tuesday how the “Second Season” starts now. With six rookies on the roster, four of whom haven’t seen postseason action (Charlie McAvoy and Sean Kuraly both played in the playoffs last year), it will be important for the experience veterans like Bergeron, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, and even newcomer Rick Nash to set a good example if the team is to make a deep run into the spring.
The Good and The Bad on the Injury Front
Rick Nash (Concussion) and Sean Kuraly (Upper Body) both were full goes at practice Tuesday, slotting back into their normal spots on the Second and Fourth line respectively.
Riley Nash (Ear) however did not participate after skating on Monday, Cassidy stated that it doesn’t make it any more probable that Nash suits up Thursday, but he wouldn’t rule it out.
Noel Acciari missed with a maintenance day, he should be good to go for game one.
With Rick Nash and Kuraly back in the mix, it forced the lines back to what they were for the majority of the season, for the most part. The noticeable difference was Brian Gionta skating as the Third Line Center, (Riley Nash’s usual spot) which made Ryan Donato the odd man out. It appears the rookie will be watching Game One from the ninth floor at the TD Garden.
The other spot in question before the series begin is the sixth defenseman. Adam McQuaid and Nick Holden rotated throughout practice, pairing with Matt Gryzleck, who will be in the lineup Thursday. My guess is that Adam McQuaid will get first crack at the job.
Cassidy stated that what the lineup looks like in Game One could change by the time Game Two comes on Saturday. It’s the playoffs, things can change in a heartbeat.
Tuesday’s Practice Lines
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Rick Nash
Heinen – Gionta – Backes
Schaller – Kuraly – Wingels
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Miller
Grzelcyk – McQuaid/Holden