With the Bruins just days away from heading up to Toronto for Phase 4 of the NHL’s “Return to Play” plan, here are three observations from Friday’s penultimate practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
Bruins are hoping for a full traveling party up to Toronto:
As far as attendance goes, Friday’s on-ice session was once again headlined by the absence of both David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase — with the Czech wingers only appearing on the ice at Boston’s Brighton facility once since Phase 3 opened up on July 13.
Nick Ritchie was also MIA for the second straight practice, while Paul Carey also did not participate.
At this point, it seems like a bit of a lost cause when it comes to expecting Pastrnak and Kase to get back on the sheet Saturday morning for Boston’s final Phase 3 practice.
But Bruce Cassidy did note that the greater fear — in which both skaters aren’t cleared for the team’s charter to Toronto — might not actually come to fruition.
Offering a sliver of optimism when asked about the likelihood of a departing Boston with a full travel party, Cassidy believes that all players and staff should be accounted for by the time the club goes wheels up to Ontario on Sunday.
"It's been indicated to me and of course that could change. But that's the plan right now,” Cassidy said. “I mean, you've seen it, day-to-day, you get guys that, for whatever reason, are not able to participate. Today was no different with Paul Carey. We hope that everyone is cleared to go at 5:30 on Sunday, unless we hear differently."
This falls in line with Cam Neely’s comments on Wednesday, in which he expected both Pastrnak and Kase would not be available for on-ice work until the club had already made it up to Toronto.
Granted, having a full roster make the trip up to Canada is still great news for this Bruins club, given what has been a tumultuous Phase 3. But still, even with a full complement of skaters available, both Pastrnak and Kase are going to be behind the eight ball when it comes to getting back up to speed — especially with an exhibition matchup against the Blue Jackets scheduled for Thursday.
Here’s the lineup that Boston rolled with on Friday afternoon:
Marchand – Bergeron – Bjork
DeBrusk – Krejci – Studnicka
Kuraly – Coyle – Kuhlman
Nordstrom – Lindholm – Wagner
Blidh – Frederic – Senyshyn
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Lauzon
Moore – Clifton
Vaakanainen – Zboril
There’s a pretty legitimate shot we could see either Bjork or Studnicka in a top-six spot through the round-robin: