BOSTON - The Bruins have not had much time to relax in recent months. A shortened offseason following their trip to the Stanley Cup Final meant a quick turnaround as they turned the page to the 2019-20 season.
But now, already nine games into a new campaign, Boston is getting a bit of a chance to catch its breath. Following Tuesday night's victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs that pushed the Bruins record to 6-1-2, the Black & Gold have three days off before Saturday's Cup Final rematch with the St. Louis Blues.
As such, the Bruins went through a light practice on Wednesday afternoon, focusing on skill work under the direction of skating and skills coach Kim Brandvold. The Black & Gold will stay away from the rink on Thursday, before returning to Warrior Ice Arena on Friday to prepare for the Blues.
"Typically, we'd have a day off after a game but then you've got Thursday-Friday, then we've got three in four," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Talking to the medical staff, talking to our strength and conditioning guys, even the players, we thought we'd be better [skating]. I like to go on the day after a game typically, loosen up, as long as it's not a heavy workday.
"I think guys kind of get what they have out of their system and their legs, recover quicker. Kind of a quick skate. That's what they're doing today and they'll be off tomorrow. The day off is built in, it's just in between."
Video: Cassidy provides injury updates, talks Anders Bjork
Things will pick up again quickly, however, as Saturday's tilt with the Blues kicks off a stretch of three games in four days - before another three-day stretch without games late next week. With St. Louis set to visit TD Garden for the first time since Game 7, it was suggested that some time away from the rink during the lead up could be good for the Bruins, though Cassidy dismissed the idea that his team would suffer from any distractions.
"We would have stuck to this schedule no matter who we played, to be honest with you," said Cassidy. "I'm sure come Saturday morning there will be conversation, questions about St. Louis being back here. But I don't think anyone is concerned about it today."
Right now, all the Bruins are concerned about is continuing their strong start to the season. Despite outside concerns about a Stanley Cup Final hangover, Boston has lost just once in regulation, collecting points in eight of nine games thus far.
"I didn't think there was any doubt that we'd be ready to go," said Cassidy. "We've got a very competitive group, so it was gonna be a matter of everybody staying healthy…did the guys get enough reps coming out of training camp, which we saw in Dallas and Arizona. We were rusty on the offensive side of things, but we found a way to win because I think our dressing room is good at that. Goaltending was sharp, timely scoring, penalty kill was solid. We did enough things well early on to scratch out wins. Now you're seeing guys get more into the flow of it offensively."
Krejci Hits the Ice
After missing the last three games with an upper-body injury, David Krejci was back on the ice before practice on Wednesday morning with Kevan Miller and John Moore, though his status for this weekend's back-to-back set against St. Louis and the New York Rangers remains in question.
"He's back skating, which is obviously step one," said Cassidy. "We're off tomorrow, so Friday we'll see where he's at…he'd certainly have to get through a contact practice. It's a day off, but there's injured guys, he may skate tomorrow. That's up to the medical team. Friday, if he gets through an injured practice then we'd have to make a decision, yes."
Given the upcoming stretch of three games in four days, Cassidy did acknowledge that the Bruins may have to exercise some caution with Krejci, who has played in just five games this season.
"Typically, he wouldn't come right back in in a situation where it's three in four," said Cassidy. "He's been out a little bit with a couple of lingering injuries. We would probably err on the side of caution there, make sure he's close to 100 percent and not force him in at 80 or something like that."
Joakim Nordstrom practiced in full on Wednesday and appears to be progressing toward a return on Saturday after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury. The Bruins announced on Tuesday night that fellow winger Karson Kuhlman will be out for at least four weeks with a non-displaced fracture of his right tibia, which he suffered when he was struck with a Jake DeBrusk shot on Saturday in Toronto.
The Bruins assigned Anders Bjork to Providence on Wednesday morning, though Cassidy would not rule out that the winger could be back before Saturday's game with St. Louis. Cassidy was quite pleased with the 23-year-old's season debut on Tuesday night, during which Bjork landed four shots on goal and rang one off the post with a strong drive to the net in 13:17 of ice time.
"He played well, earned the right to come back," said Cassidy. "Krech was back out on the injured ice. Nordy full participation today. A little bit of it is living in the salary cap world. Think he did enough to certainly get another look. I can't guarantee it will be Saturday, but that's what we're looking at now."
Video: Bjork Talks After 4-2 Win Over TOR