BOSTON - With each passing day, the Bruins are inching closer to a return to full health. But there is still some work to be done.
Brad Marchand and Torey Krug skated with the team on Tuesday, but will not travel to New Jersey and have been ruled out for the game against the Devils on Wednesday night. Ryan Spooner, meanwhile, appears close to a return from the torn adductor that has sidelined him for the last five-plus weeks.
"It was a long 5 ½ weeks," said Spooner, who took his normal reps with the first power-play unit during Tuesday's session. "Not sure if I'm gonna play yet, but I'm gonna go with the team, skate in the morning, and go from there. I felt good, first practice I've had and felt fine, so that's good."
Marchand started practice in his usual white sweater, but ditched it for a burgundy non-contact jersey roughly halfway through the session. Krug - who left practice early - and David Backes also donned the non-contact jerseys.
For Marchand, it was the first step in his return from an undisclosed injury that has caused him to miss the last three games.
"Good to be back out with the guys and feel like part of the team again," said Marchand. "It's frustrating any time you have to miss games and time away from the team. It's disappointing. The guys had a great road trip and are playing well, so it's fun to watch. It would be nice to be back in the lineup and be part of the team again, but it will come."
Boston's No. 1 left winger has missed five of the team's last seven games. After sitting out two games with an upper-body injury, Marchand returned for the back-to-back against Toronto some 10 days ago and was nicked up again on the second night in Boston.
"I'm feeling a little better and progressing," said Marchand. "Today was really the first day I skated high-intensity. We'll just keep going day by day."
Though disappointed to be out of the lineup, Marchand was impressed with the team's play on the West Coast during his absence and had particularly high praise for Boston's youth.
"I think the younger guys did a really good job stepping up, Jake DeBrusk had a great game [against San Jose]," said Marchand. "Throughout the lineup guys are playing with more confidence and stepping up their game. That's what we need, guys stepping up at different times. We're getting that."
Video: Marchand, Krug ruled out for New Jersey
Grzelcyk Back Up
With Krug still out, the Bruins recalled Matt Grzelcyk from Providence. It's the Charlestown native's second stint with Boston this season, having played in the B's season opener against Nashville.
The 5-foot-9, 174-pound blue liner had four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games with Providence this season and is often compared to Krug in both stature and skill set.
"Puck mover, he's quick, he gets up the ice, supports the rush, good distributor, a lot of similarities to Torey. And naturally it's always, 'Well, because of their similar makeup…' But they are similar," said Cassidy. "Torey at this level, and even at the AHL level his first year, is a more dynamic offensive player. We're still looking for that from Grizz. Whether it's in him or not, time will tell. We believe it is, we've just got to get it out of him."
No Goalie Decision
Cassidy has yet to decide which goalie will get the nod against the Devils, saying he will make the call on Wednesday morning. Anton Khudobin has started the last two games, allowing just two goals over the course of victories against Los Angeles and San Jose.
New Jersey, tied with Columbus for the lead in the Metropolitan Division (27 points), snapped a two-game losing streak with an overtime win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.
Taylor Hall paces the Devils with 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists), while rookies Will Butcher (16 points) and Nico Hischier (15 points) sit second and third, respectively. Former Bruins Drew Stafford (5-3-8) and Jimmy Hayes (3-3-6) have each had regular roles with New Jersey this season.
The Devils are seventh in the league in scoring (3.25 goals per game) and 12th in goals against (3.10). New Jersey has the ninth-ranked power play (22.2%) and is 19th on the penalty kill (79.2%).
"They've changed their approach a little bit from what you typically think of the Devils historically," said Cassidy. "It has a lot to do with Ray Shero, their GM, he came from Pittsburgh. I think they're playing like Pittsburgh plays now. They want skill, they want speed, they want to attack.
"Before, you thought of the Devils as more of a clog it up, defend, defend some more. It will be completely different than what we saw out west, so our guys are gonna need their skating legs"
Tuesday's Practice Lineup
Danton Heinen - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Peter Cehlarik
Frank Vatrano - Ryan Spooner - Riley Nash/Jordan Szwarz
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
Matt Beleskey - Brad Marchand - David Backes
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Rob O'Gara/Paul Postma - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller