BOSTON - It appears that the Bruins could use a bit of a spark.
After dropping two straight games to fall into a 2-1 series hole in this best-of-seven, second-round series with Tampa Bay, coach Bruce Cassidy hinted at potential lineup changes for Friday night's Game 4.
It was difficult, however, to decipher what any tweaks may look like during Thursday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk both missing the session for maintenance days.
"That's where it starts, guys that don't skate, we'll assess that in the morning. We'll probably tinker," said Cassidy, who also noted that he assumes both Marchand and DeBrusk will be fine to play in Game 4.
"I'm not going to tell you who's going in or who's going out now because we've got to get the healthy guys sorted out first and then go from there. Tuukka [Rask] will start, I'll give you that."
With Marchand and DeBrusk sitting out, the practice lines looked like this:
Danton Heinen - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Ryan Donato - David Krejci - Rick Nash
Tommy Wingels - Noel Acciari/Riley Nash - David Backes
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Brian Gionta
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Matt Grzelcyk/Nick Holden
Video: Cassidy spoke to media following Practice on Thursday
Regardless of who suits up for the pivotal Game 4 showdown, David Backes made sure to reinforce the need for each player throughout the lineup to bring their best effort.
"He's gonna make his decisions as a coach. We're the players, if we're in the lineup we've got to give everything we've got every time our name is called to get on the ice," said Backes. "If it's not called, we need to be supportive of our teammates. The character in this room is something I've never been concerned about. We have guys that when they're out there are working their butts off to try and stay ready if their name is called."
Backes pointed to Tommy Wingels as the prime example of a player taking advantage of his opportunity. Wingels had not played since Game 6 of the first round against Toronto, but stepped in for Tim Schaller on Wednesday night with energy and physicality, landing five hits - the second-highest total among all players - in just over 11 minutes of ice time.
"I think Tommy Wingels was probably our best bottom-six player last night and he was freshly inserted in the lineup," said Backes. "He kept himself ready and wants to do whatever he can to help his team win. That's the mindset everyone needs to have, including guys that have been in the lineup every game."
Video: Backes addresses media after Thursday's Practice
As Rick Nash put it on Thursday afternoon, Game 4 presents the Bruins with a "fresh start." A victory at TD Garden on Friday night and it's a new series once again.
"I think it's an opportunity to get our game back on track," said Backes. "We'll put a great effort out there where we give ourselves a great chance to win a game. And if we do that, we're gonna like the result.
"We've got to start from scratch, 0-0, and it does begin at the start, the drop of the puck we need to be ready, focused, in sync, engaged, urgent, to make sure that we're not giving anything for free."
Back to the Drawing Board
Cassidy conducted a short but productive practice at Warrior Ice Arena, focusing on a number of areas that need improvement, while also not overworking the group with an extended on-ice session.
"Today we revisited some areas where we think we can improve without being out there for an hour," said Cassidy. "When you lose a couple games you could probably use a few days but you don't have that luxury this time of year, so you want to make sure they get the appropriate rest.
"But the things you're trying to build in even though it's NHL elite players, I think walking through it or going through it is helpful, especially with our group, we do have some young guys."
Video: Bergeron addresses media after Thursday's Practice
Kept in Check
The Bruins - chiefly Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy - have done a terrific job shutting down Tampa's top line of J.T. Miller, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov, limiting them to just two points, both of which came on Stamkos' empty-net goal at the end of Game 3.
It has been the production of the Lightning's other three lines that has been an issue for the Bruins.
"We've kept one in check, but unfortunately not the other ones," said Cassidy. "Again, the guys that go over the boards, we were a good defensive team all year and it wasn't just Bergy's line to be honest with you…now we have to look at it if they can't get the job done, do we hard match to get the best possible advantage?"
Video: Rick Nash addresses media after practice on Thursday