BOSTON - The Bruins will close out their three-game homestand on Sunday evening when they welcome the New Jersey Devils to TD Garden. Boston is 1-1-1 against the Devils this season, including a 3-2 setback during the teams' last meeting on Feb. 18 on Causeway Street.
"They work hard. They were playing a system in their own end that was structured to keep pucks away from the slot," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Devils, who have lost five in a row and eight of nine since the win in Boston. "I thought they got to the net on us too and I thought their goalie was very good against us. You get goaltending and you limit those high-danger chances, then you're in the game and that's what happened.
"Every game was close. The last one up here we really had to rally to make it close. Good for them. Hopefully we're better prepared mentally to understand they're a better team than they were a year ago and be ready to play our game and play it well."
Here's everything else you need to know ahead of Sunday's 5 p.m. puck drop on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub:
Carlo Returns Home
Per Cassidy, Brandon Carlo was released from the hospital early Saturday morning and is resting at home. The blue liner left Friday night's win after taking a high and heavy hit from Washington's Tom Wilson. While Wilson was not penalized on the ice, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced that he had been offered an in-person hearing via Zoom for boarding. Late Saturday night, Wilson was suspended for seven games.
"I was glad they looked at it and they did assess some discipline," Cassidy said on Sunday morning. "What I'm satisfied about is I texted Brandon this morning, he's feeling better. He's obviously gonna be out for a while, but he's feeling better."
With Carlo (likely week-to-week, per Cassidy) sidelined, Urho Vaakanainen will re-enter the lineup and the play the right side on Boston's third pair with Jarred Tinordi as his partner.
"We'll see how he does on the right side," said Cassidy. "He's played a bit on the right, so has [Jakub] Zboril, so you may see some pieces move around...we'll see how it best fits."
Also missing from Saturday's practice were Kevan Miller (knee), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jeremy Lauzon (hand), and Patrice Bergeron, who took a maintenance day.
Miller, meanwhile, is expected to begin skating again sometime this week and could join the team upon their return from Long Island.
"He will start on his own this week, whether that's Tuesday or Wednesday or tomorrow, I'm not 100 percent sure," said Cassidy.
Video: Cassidy answers questions before game against Devils
False Alarm for Coyle
Charlie Coyle confirmed on Saturday morning that his absence earlier the week was the result of a false positive rapid COVID-19 test. After missing Wednesday's loss to the Caps, the center subsequently tested negative three times, clearing him for a return on Friday night.
"Got my rapid test back, came right away after pregame skate when I got home and for some reason, I tested positive," Coyle explained. "I don't know how it really works but got a negative later that night and had to get two more negatives to come back. That's the way the league does it.
"It's unfortunate that I missed a game, but it could have been worse. I could have been doing 10 days [in quarantine], so glad it's over with and put it behind us and move on."
While Coyle was confident that there had been a blip in the testing, he still was forced to remain in his apartment, which meant getting creative in how he tried to stay physically active for the two days he away from the team.
"You start thinking about everything you've done over the last couple days, start questioning everything," Coyle said when asked of his initial reaction to the test results. What did I do? But I haven't really been doing anything.
"It was kind of hard to believe that I'd be the only one to have it. I kind of knew in my mind that I was gonna be OK. There were no symptoms or anything. But being away from the rink for two days, can't go on the ice. I wanted to be ready for [Friday] night's game, so just trying to do workouts at home by yourself.
"I'm at my apartment complex and I can't even go in the gym there and do anything so I was doing bodyweight stuff in my house and try to get ready, stay in shape so I could possibly play on Friday night."
Video: Coyle talks to media after Saturday skate at Warrior
Stout at the Top
Cassidy was not planning on pairing Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy together on Friday night, but after seeing how Washington lined up, he made a tweak. The two Boston University products would team up to do battle against the Caps' top unit of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Conor Sheary. It turned out to be quite the wise decision.
The duo was dominant in all three zones and was on the ice for three of Boston's five goals. McAvoy picked up two assists to go along with a plus-3 rating, while Grzelcyk also notched a nifty helper on Brad Marchand's second of the night to help pace the Bruins offensively.
"There's a school of thought that you separate puck movers and put them with defenders to balance things out," said Cassidy. "Sometimes, I feel having two puck movers together that read off each other well probably means you're gonna have some transition plays, some breakouts that you wouldn't ordinarily get.
"It's hard for the one guy to do it by himself. If he has another guy over there thinking like him, now you're getting almost 100 percent of the time guys that are thinking on the same page. That's the school of thought with those two.
"They're both good defenders as well in their own way. Charlie's more physical, Grizz more foot speed, stick, reading plays. They can play against everybody but they can complement an offensive line, like a Bergeron line that can get them pucks in good spots, easy transition plays that can make us more dangerous as an offensive team."
Video: Grzelcyk talks to media following Saturday skate
By The Numbers
- Tuukka Rask, who will make the start on Sunday evening, is one win shy of 300 for his career.
- The Bruins host the Devils tonight in the fourth of eight games between these teams this season and the second of four to be played at TD Garden this year.
- The Bruins and Devils are meeting for the 165th time in their histories (includes Devils as Kansas City & Colorado) with the Bruins having a 90-43-19-12 record and 540-428 scoring advantage in those games.
- The Bruins are 48-21-8-6 vs. the Devils all-time in Boston with a 290-230 scoring edge in those 83 contests.
- The Bruins are 5-1-2 in their last eight games vs. the Devils. Their 3-2 regulation loss on Feb. 18 was their first home regulation loss to New Jersey since Dec. 27, 2018, and they are 9-2-2 in their last 12 overall.
Sunday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie - David Krejci - Jake DeBrusk
Trent Frederic - Charlie Coyle - Craig Smith
Anders Bjork/Sean Kuraly - Jack Studnicka - Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy
Jakub Zboril - Connor Clifton
Jarred Tinordi - Urho Vaakanainen
John Moore - Steven Kampfer