BOSTON - After sitting out the last two weeks due to COVID-19, Jake DeBrusk will be back in the lineup on Monday night when the Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET on NESN+ and 98.5 The Sports Hub). The winger landed on the COVID protocols list on March 19 and a few days later began to develop symptoms, including the loss of taste and smell.
"I had some symptoms, nothing too major. It kind of came in midway through," DeBrusk said following Monday's morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. "Obviously, it was unfortunate. I lost my taste and smell. That was a little bit of a weird experience.
"Couple of weird days but nothing too major. It hits everyone differently and I got out of it pretty quick. I was able to recover fairly fast, nothing that affected the lungs."
DeBrusk, who has missed the past six games, began skating at the end of last week and believes his conditioning is in a good spot to return. The 24-year-old said he has "so much energy" following the lengthy break and is looking forward to getting even more of a boost from playing in front of fans at TD Garden for the first time this season.
"You have so much energy, you're just excited to see other human beings, let alone be on the ice," said DeBrusk, who passed his quarantine by FaceTiming with friends and family and binge watching shows like Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Entourage. "I pushed myself. Wasn't necessarily the optimal amount of time [to ramp up] with our schedule. It's kind of hard to get in some practices and stuff like that. If there's anyone that can do it, I think it's me. I feel ready to go. It will be a little bit different with game pace and game level."
Following a slow start to this shortened campaign, DeBrusk seemed to be finding more a groove before his COVID diagnosis, having potted two goals in four games. He is aiming to pick up where he left off and use his return as a bit of a fresh start as he slots back into the lineup alongside Charlie Coyle and Zach Senyshyn on Boston's third line.
"It's not necessarily pissed off, it's just more focused," said DeBrusk, who also missed the B's game on March 13 due to a false positive. "That's obviously what my thoughts have been during this quarantine. It's one of those things where you try not to mentally get in your own head when you're just chilling.
"I didn't mind the way I was playing. Started finding my game. That's pretty much been the story of this year, it just gets delayed. At this point, I don't really look in the past all.
"It's a new beginning, it's the second half of the season...I usually come out pretty hot after breaks."
Video: DeBrusk talks to media before his return to game play
Halak Into Protocols
The Bruins went one day with a clean slate on the COVID protocols list but found out on Monday that Jaroslav Halak had tested positive and would require further testing, keeping him away from the team. Daniel Vladar, who was scheduled to play on Monday anyway, will get the start with Jeremy Swayman serving as the backup.
"Jaro popped a positive test. We've got to follow up with more testing for him. He wasn't able to go out on the ice per protocol," said Cassidy. "Vladar was scheduled to start tonight. He's gonna stay in there and we'll worry about [Tuesday] when we get more info."
Tuukka Rask (upper body) will not be ready to return for either of the upcoming games against the Flyers, but did hit the ice before morning skate and is expected to be with the team on the upcoming road trip to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
"He's getting better," said Cassidy. "He's not playing tonight, he's not playing [Tuesday]. He'll travel with us, get some work and see where it ends up."
Video: Cassidy addresses media ahead of game against Flyers
The Flyers (17-14-5, 39 points) have dropped two in a row and sit four points back of the Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. Boston has two games in hand entering the week, which features three of four games against the Flyers, including the home-and-home back-to-back beginning Monday night at TD Garden.
"We know we have a lot of games in a short period of time this week," said Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. "It's about making sure we use that as a nice little challenge and be ready every time we step on the ice. We know that you want to push teams that are behind you down. We have some games in hand that we're aware of and you want to make sure you make the most of those."
James van Riemsdyk paces the Flyers with 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 36 games, while former Boston University standout Joel Farabee leads the club with 14 goals.
Video: Bergeron talks to media ahead of Monday night's game
By the Numbers
- Patrice Bergeron is two points short of his 900th NHL point. He is now tied with Rick Middleton for fourth place overall on the team's scoring list (898) and will take sole possession with his next point.
- The Bruins host the Flyers tonight in the sixth of eight games between these teams this season and the fourth and final home game.
- The Bruins are concluding a seven-game homestand (3-2-1), which is tied for the longest homestand in club history.
- Boston is opening its fourth of eight sets of back-to-back games this season. The B's are currently 2-1-0 in the first game of those sets and 1-2-0 in the second games.
Wait, There's More
After Saturday's breakout offensive performance that saw significant contributions from the B's top two lines in the 7-5 win over Pittsburgh, Cassidy is sticking with his new-look trios. David Pastrnak will remain with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie, while Craig Smith bumps up to play with Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
"They're two guys with great speed on the sides…any player plays a different style, different game, positions himself differently," Bergeron said of the differences between Pastrnak and Smith. "But you have to adjust to that and talk. It all comes down to communicating. He's going down on the forecheck hard, he's creating a lot of turnovers. I really like his game. He's a very smart player, been around for a while, lots of experience. You can really tell. It's been an easy transition so far."
Kevan Miller (knee) skated with the group again on Monday morning and could make his return to game action on Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The blue liner has not played since Feb. 18.
"He's put some good work in," said Cassidy. "Today was maybe one of the final tune ups. Obviously back-to-backs are gonna be a challenge. We're gonna have to monitor that the way the year has gone. We're targeting [Tuesday]…that's the plan and from there we'll see how he reacts to it."
Jeremy Lauzon will be back in the lineup for Jarred Tinordi after sitting out Saturday's win as a healthy scratch. He'll play alongside Connor Clifton.
Monday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - Charlie Coyle - Zach Senyshyn
Trent Frederic - Sean Kuraly - Karson Kuhlman
Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy
Jakub Zboril - Steven Kampfer
Jeremy Lauzon - Connor Clifton