BostonBruins.com - We have waited one hundred forty-three days, and we will wait one more, as the return of Bruins hockey makes its glorious arrival. The B's 2019-2020 campaign officially resumes on Sunday afternoon, coincidentally, right where it left off - in a matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.
For those who need a refresher: Tuukka Rask faced thirty-six shots and made thirty-six saves as the Bruins left Wells Fargo Center on March 10th with a 2-0 victory. The boys, now isolated in a bubble north of the border, work to continue writing that same successful narrative.
After a hard-fought loss on Thursday night against Columbus, the Black & Gold shift their attention to the next game on the calendar, and this time it counts.
"Our guys, I expect to play a lot harder than they did against Columbus on Thursday night," said coach Bruce Cassidy after Saturday's practice in Toronto. "To what degree Philly plays, I can't predict how they'll do, but I expect us to be a lot more competitive than we were the other night."
Without the usual dosage of fans in the seats at Scotiabank Arena, the players are looking for other avenues to amplify their energy. Coach Bruce Cassidy believes one way the guys can do that is by elevating their communication.
"We do need a little more chatter to get us going…[Patrice Bergeron] will talk, but he plays a lot of minutes, [Zdeno Chara] is in the same boat," Cassidy said. "You need sometimes, the guys like [Joakim Nordstrom] and [Charlie Coyle], they're more quiet by nature…even [Chris Wagner], who is an energy guy on the ice, you sort of need everyone to bring that chattiness."
"The team's that are able to manufacture that energy." Cassidy added. "Especially when your down a goal, when you need that big hit, and a little bit of that going on, that's where coaches and assistant coaches are going to have to encourage the guys and a little bit more than they would when there is a packed house."
Defenseman Charlie McAvoy was confident that the team can adapt to the unusual playing environment and feed off of the squad's strong leadership.
"You're going to have to manufacture your own energy and our leaders, they do a great job of always being vocal and they always seem to step up at the right time."
McAvoy continued his thoughts on the team's leadership by saying, "I know that [our leaders] have the right things to say and we lean on them and they come through for us in that regard. Personally, I have my voice and I like to use it when it feels appropriate, I think that's one of the best parts about our team. It doesn't matter where you are, how many years you've played, or whatever your age is - we all lean on each other for energy. Sometimes it's other guys who are bringing it, especially now in this atmosphere, I think having guys step up and be vocal, leading with actions, is going to be big for us."
McAvoy didn't believe that sweating the small stuff would help advance the team in any way ahead of Sunday's matinee.
"I don't think anyone expects that tomorrow is going to be a perfect game. That's the situation that we're in right now, but it's about playing to the best of our abilities…I think now, more than ever, leaning on each other, supporting each other, knowing that mistakes are going to happen."
Video: McAvoy talks team leadership after Saturday practice
Bruce Cassidy provided an update on Rask's absence from Saturday's practice lineup.
"No, [Tuukka Rask] wasn't feeling well, unfit to participate today, which as an afternoon game at three o'clock, I'm sure the follow up question is 'will he start'? I'll have to talk to Tuukka later, see where he's at. If not, [Jaroslav Halak] will be ready to go."
Bruce Cassidy also provided an update on Brad Marchand, who left Thursday's scrimmage early in the third period.
"I would say the reason he left the other day won't preclude him from playing tomorrow. He looked fine…His minutes will be determined probably more about how he's playing. Obviously if there's a lingering issue with an injury then we'll keep an eye on it, but I think he's going to be one-hundred percent, ready to go and play whatever is asked of him.
Cassidy's press conference included an update on both Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase, who were seen skating on Saturday's practice ice.
"[Ondrej Kase] didn't have to quarantine here, he did that in New England…He arrived yesterday and he was on the ice this morning with the extra players. We had two groups go, so he skated. He'll be out tomorrow, certainly won't play tomorrow. "
Cassidy finished with an update on forward Nick Ritchie.
"Ritchie skated with that group as well and with us, so he did double work today. But he won't be available tomorrow either. But they're both back out on the ice and we'll make a decision on Wednesday as we get closer to that game, so how they do with us on Monday and Tuesday's practices."
Video: Cassidy talks to media after Saturday skate
Saturday's Practice Lineup (1)
Marchand - Bergeron - Pastrnak
DeBrusk - Krejci - Studnicka/Ritchie
Kuhlman/Kuraly - Coyle - Bjork
Nordstrom - Lindholm - Wagner
Chara - McAvoy
Krug - Carlo
Grzelcyk - Lauzon
Moore - Clifton
Saturday's Practice Lineup (2)