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Cassidy Expects a Balancing Act

Will juggle rest vs. seeding over final weekend

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

SUNRISE, Fla. - Bruce Cassidy had a decision to make on Wednesday.

Fresh off a 4-0 beat down from the Tampa Bay Lightning - which capped a stretch of three games in four days - and with three games in four days to cap off the regular season on the horizon, Boston's bench boss wrestled with the idea of trading practice time for a bit of rest.

Neither was a bad option, but in the end Cassidy opted to get his squad right back to work.

"Here's the problem today…we thought about a day off vs. practicing," Cassidy explained following the session at BB&T Center. "[Zdeno Chara] and [Charlie McAvoy] haven't practiced much. I thought the young kids, some of them, needed to get back on the ice after last night - refocused. The goaltenders haven't had a lot of live practice; they get a goalie practice here.

"You've got about half a group that probably needs to practice. We've got half a group that's played a lot of hockey - [Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug - they could probably have the day off. I'm not a big fan of half the group practicing and half not…you don't have enough bodies.

"That's my feeling on it. We went back and forth and made the decision to practice and have an optional [morning skate] tomorrow."

Video: Cassidy speaks to media after Practice in Florida

That balancing act is one that Cassidy will have to wrestle with through the final regular season game against the Panthers on Sunday night at TD Garden. The Bruins are still trying to get their group healthy, with the likes of Rick Nash, Riley Nash, and Sean Kuraly working their way back from injury.

But Boston is also in prime position to capture the top seed in the Eastern Conference. After Tuesday night's loss, the Bruins are tied with Tampa Bay at 110 points, but have one game in hand.

"I feel good, I want to play a full season…don't want to talk about [rest]," said David Pastrnak, one of two Bruins along with Tim Schaller to have skated in every game this season. "We have three game left, we want to win all of them and see how we end. It would be nice [to get the top speed]. It's what we work the whole season for, get ourselves a good spot.

"We don't think about it, we think about the next game and get back on track tomorrow night."

Depending on what the implications are on the standings, Cassidy will have to decide whether or not to dole out rest or play everyone through the year's closing weekend.

"We're gonna try to beat Florida tomorrow, to be honest with you," said Cassidy. "We said this before, we're going to decide on the rest accordingly. We'll talk to players individually. Some of the guys that have played a lot of hockey are out, one permanently [in Brandon Carlo]. [Riley] Nash and Kuraly played a lot, so they're getting their rest now, for lack of a better term. Zee and Charlie got some time off, Bergy, [David] Backes.

"You've got some guys like Schaller, Marchand, [David Pastrnak] that have played a lot of hockey - Marchy had a bit of a break - Krug, [Matt Grzelcyk], [Kevan] Miller. We'll monitor that going forward. We've tried to limit practice time."

Backes believes that any rest the team might require can come from within with a bit of teamwork.

"Some of it might be physical, but some of it might be mental, staying with it, staying on that edge," said Backes, who has suited up for 54 games this season.
"The rest of us that have maybe not played all the games, it's up to us to grab that rein and say, 'Hey maybe I can do a little bit more if the work tonight.' Not necessarily give other guys breaks, but let them use their brain and maybe hold back."

Video: Pastrnak, Backes and Marchand speak after practice

One place where Cassidy has given serious consideration to providing some rest is between the pipes. Right now, Tuukka Rask is scheduled to start on Thursday against the Panthers, but could sit out both games this weekend to prepare for the postseason.

"I figured [Anton Khudobin] would play at least one of them," said Cassidy. "But obviously if there is situational [consideration], where we are in the standings, how important is that vs. Tuukka's rest? We've said that all along. That's something we're going to stick with. He could get an extra game.

"I think we've handled his workload throughout the course of the year fairly well, in terms of not overplaying him. That's one if he feels, and we feel, he should play then he will. If not we'll stick to what we originally planned and just play him tomorrow and get ready for next week."

Daily Injury Rundown

Here is your obligatory Boston Bruins injury update:

Rick Nash (upper-body) - skated back in Boston for second straight day

"He skated. That's good," said Cassidy. "A day closer when you're skating….now that he's skating - not speaking out of turn - there would be a chance [he plays this weekend]. I'm not saying he will or won't, but he's obviously closer than three days ago when he wasn't skating."

Riley Nash (ear) - has not resumed skating

"I think he's still got discomfort up there," said Cassidy. "Whether it's more than that, I don't know. Until he gets through that, he's out."

Sean Kuraly (upper-body) - has not resumed skating

"If you're not skating - today's Wednesday - you'd have to be on the ice fairly soon for [Riley Nash] and Kuraly if they would expect to get in the lineup [before the end of the regular season]," said Cassidy.

Tommy Wingels (hand) - skated with the team on Wednesday, game-time decision for Thursday at Florida

Wednesday's Practice Lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Ryan Donato
Danton Heinen - David Backes - Brian Gionta
Tim Schaller - Noel Acciari - Tommy Wingels
Colby Cave

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid
Matt Grzelcyk/Nick Holden - Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask
Anton Khudobin

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