BOSTON - The Bruins are no strangers to the injury bug. A season ago, their defense corps was decimated by injuries, forcing them to delve deep into the organization's defensive depth chart, at one point getting all the way down to its 12th blue liner.
This season, Boston's forwards are giving the back end a run for its money. Through 18 games, the Bruins have played 18 different forwards, and on Friday night in Toronto that total will reach 19.
Already without Jake DeBrusk, David Backes, Brett Ritchie, and Karson Kuhlman, the team announced on Thursday morning that promising young winger Zach Senyshyn will be sidelined for at least four weeks with a lower-body injury suffered on Tuesday night against Florida.
With Senyshyn out, the team recalled fellow first-round pick Trent Frederic to take his place. It will be Frederic's fourth stint with the Black & Gold, after suiting up for 15 games a season ago. That experience - and familiarity with his teammates and the B's system - will no doubt help him adjust to being at the NHL level for the first time this season.
"You know everyone," said Frederic, who had five assists through 15 games for Providence. "You feel - I don't know if comfortable is the word - but you definitely feel like you know the place, you know all the systems, you know all the guys, so it definitely makes it a lot easier. A lot less thinking."
Video: Frederic talks with media after first practice
One thing that will, for sure, take some getting used to is where he'll be in the lineup. Frederic, a natural centerman, will shift to the left wing alongside Par Lindholm and Danton Heinen on Boston's third line.
"It was nice today, you get to skate more, open up more," said Frederic. "I'm excited to get the opportunity here on the wing. I don't think too many [adjustments will be needed]. The way the system is, the first guy back you're low anyways…it's really not that big of an adjustment for me."
Playing Frederic on the left side means further adjustments to Boston's forward group, with Anders Bjork moving up to play with David Krejci and Charlie Coyle and Heinen bumping down to flip to the right wing.
"The hand we've been dealt right now is we have a lot of right wingers out," said Cassidy. "We've talked about Anders staying on the left side. We don't want to mess with that, he's played well there. We want to keep him on the left side. That means Danton has to move, whose played the right side.
"I've talked about it before, the other thing I like about [Heinen] is he can move around. He's got a good hockey IQ, he can figure out what a line needs and fit in. He's done it on every line on this team. That's the reasoning."
Shifting Heinen and Bjork around also allows Frederic to stay on his strong side.
"We'll see if that frees him up to go out and be physical and play more his style, just straight-line game instead of overthinking as a centerman," said Cassidy. "We're not gonna bring him up as a left shot and throw him on the right wing, I think that's a little unfair. We're already kind of moving him to begin with to see where he's at."
Video: Cassidy gives updates, talks with media
On the Shelf
None of Boston's injured players made the trip to Toronto, and only Ritchie, who skated in a maroon non-contact jersey on Thursday, has a chance to play on Saturday against Washington, per Cassidy.
Torey Krug (upper body), DeBrusk (lower body), and Backes (upper body) all missed practice again and do not appear particularly close to a return to game action.
John Moore (shoulder) also participated in Thursday's session donning a non-contact sweater.
Finding Their Game
The Bruins, who have dropped four straight games (0-2-2), still sit at the top of the Atlantic Division, but the cushion they built up with their 11-1-2 start is dwindling. As such, the Black & Gold know they must the right the ship quickly, though they aren't dwelling on what has been a bumpy stretch.
"It's hard to win in this league and when you do, sometimes it can mask some other things that are slipping into your game," said Coyle. "We've started to address it, but things happen. It's never a perfect year. I think it's good to go through some ups and downs - not that you want to, but I think it helps when you overcome that and come together as a team.
"You've got to go through that to get better. That's what we're kind of using it as, but we've got to get back on track here. It starts with our practice today. We had a good practice out there and that kind of gets our mind right and get ready to go tomorrow against a good team. It's a good opportunity for us to get back on track."
Video: Coyle talks with media about upcoming game with TOR
Thursday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork - David Krejci - Charlie Coyle
Trent Frederic - Par Lindholm - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk - Brandon Carlo
Urho Vaakanainen - Connor Clifton
John Moore - Steven Kampfer