BOSTON - The Bruins held an optional skate on Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena, as they prepare for their final two games of the regular season.
The group could breathe easy on Wednesday morning, knowing a spot awaits them in the 2017 postseason.
Still, there is work to do, with games 81 and 82 on tap, first against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night and then against the Washington Capitals to close out the season on Saturday afternoon. Both games will be at TD Garden.
For a full preview of the Bruins-Senators matchup, check out this "Need to Know" rundown.
As Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins get set for the Senators, the lineup is not yet set.
Brad Marchand could be unavailable for the game. The NHL Department of Player Safety announced on Wednesday that Marchand will have a hearing on Thursday morning for spearing Tampa Bay's Dotchin during Tuesday night's game. Marchand was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for the incident.
"I don't know how it will play out tomorrow, I'll be perfectly honest," Cassidy said on Wednesday. "That's outside of my paygrade here, but we'll see how our injured guys are progressing and then we'll go from there. We'll adjust accordingly. Hopefully it goes well for him, but again, that's just speculation and nothing I can control."
The Bruins killed the five-minute major to Marchand, and went on to shut out the Lightning 4-0 to clinch their postseason berth.
"For me, it looked like an undisciplined play - he got called for it, and, you know, we had to kill the penalty and move on and play with 11 forwards, move people around, and, you know, make up for the loss of a very good player," Cassidy had said following Tuesday night's game.
"We lost a good player, a very good player for our team, and guys love Marchy, so they knew that it would take a little more to get the job done," Cassidy said. "Listen, you saw it, right? You saw what happened out there. It just shows how much they care about, you know, their teammates, and Marchy in particular. It's great. Listen, it's tough to win without a close-knit room, or to have any level of success, and we've got a good room."
Marchand spoke with media following Tuesday's game about the situation.
"It was an undisciplined penalty, there's no question about that, and it could have cost the team a very important game," said Marchand. "But the guys did a great job of rallying and having a huge game."
"It was obviously extremely nerve-wracking watching, and I'm just so proud of the guys,
the way they stepped up and took care of business," said Marchand.
On Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena, Marchand's teammates were preparing for Thursday's game hoping they would have No. 63 in the lineup, but not focusing on what they can't control.
"If it does happen [that we're without Brad], I think it's about doing what we did last night when we lost him," said Patrice Bergeron. "It's everyone stepping up and I thought everyone did a good job of staying with it and being positive and doing our job, so that's how we have to approach it."
"I don't know what all factors into those decisions, but hoping that something that comes down from it, it's minimal and we can have a great competitor, great player, great teammate on the ice as soon as we can for our team," said David Backes.
Lineup in Limbo
Once the Bruins know Marchand's status for Thursday night's action against Ottawa, Cassidy and the staff can put the lineup together.
Aside from Marchand, other players' statuses are in question.
Frank Vatrano (upper body), Tim Schaller (lower-body), and Jimmy Hayes (lower-body) all skated during Wednesday's optional practice.
"When we wake up [Thursday], we'll have a much better idea," Cassidy said Wednesday, on the trio of forwards. "They're skating today, let's see how they get through the day and get their treatment and I'll have a better answer for you tomorrow morning."
When those forwards are cleared to play, Cassidy will have options up front.
"That's a good problem to have," he said. "The more depth you have, the only problem becomes when I have to tell a player when he's healthy that he's not in the lineup. That's difficult. They want to get in there and play and I hate that part about the job, but that's part of it, so it is a good problem to have when we're healthy."
Another forward who could be available to play is Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, who now has two practices with the team under his belt after signing an entry-level deal that begins with the 2016-17 season.
"JFK, he's here practicing with us. He's got some immigration issues that have to get cleared up, and once they're cleared up, then again I'd be speculating, but once that happens, then he could go into the lineup," Cassidy said.
Cassidy was also asked about Charlie McAvoy's status down in Providence. McAvoy is signed to an ATO with Providence. To suit up in an NHL game, he would need to be signed to an NHL contract with Boston, which would cause him to burn a year (like Forsbacka Karlsson, the contract would then start in 2016-17, instead of 2017-18).
"I'm trying to coach the guys who are here, and I can't speculate on that," said Cassidy. "I don't expect to see him [Thursday] night. Saturday's a whole new ball game and I think we'd deal with it Friday."
The Bruins are set to hit the ice for a pregame skate at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. ET. The best lineup indications will come at that time. Live updates will be available on the Bruins' official Twitter account @NHLBruins.
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