BOSTON - Stringing together victories has been a struggle for the Bruins of late. They have won back-to-back games just once over the past six weeks, as injuries, a COVID pause, and a lack of consistent scoring has hampered their ability to get back to the level of play that saw them start the season 10-1-2.
The Black & Gold will be in search of that standard, once again, on Saturday afternoon when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins for the back end of a two-game set at TD Garden.
"We're trying to play better, better hockey. We're trying to find the answers within ourselves," said B's captain Patrice Bergeron. "I don't think anyone around the league is feeling sorry for the Boston Bruins right now. It's about how we can be better within this locker room and find ways to come together. That's it. Face that as a team."
Here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's 1 p.m. puck drop on NESNplus and 98.5 the Sports Hub:
Carlo Misses Practice
A night after exiting in the first period with an upper-body injury, Brandon Carlo was absent from Friday's practice at Warrior Ice Arena. He is considered day-to-day, per Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.
Kevan Miller did skate with the group but will not be ready to make his return on Saturday afternoon. "No, not that quick. But ask me again on Monday. He's getting closer," said Cassidy.
Jake DeBrusk, still on the COVID list as of Thursday night, skated before practice.
Rask Still Sidelined
Tuukka Rask did not practice on Friday as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury that has limited him to just one period of play since March 7. The netminder has been at the facility receiving treatment, but "hasn't responded as well as anybody" would like, according to Cassidy.
"Sometimes when you're given a definitive, 'Hey, this guy is out for X amount of time,' or he had surgery or this or that, it's easier to put behind you," said Cassidy. "But when it's kind of a day-to-day thing where players here are getting treatment, then you ask a little more. Similar to Kevan, he was doing his treatment skating and it wasn't a definitive timeline.
"But on the other hand, am I biting my fingernails off over it? No. [Daniel Vladar] is getting opportunities and has played well, I thought he held us in the game early [on Thursday]. Certainly has given us a chance to win every game he's played in, and has won two of them.
"Jaro is as advertised, to me. I think he's played well for the most part, couple of bad periods here or there over the stretch of the games he's played. I think that's very normal. So no, I'm not uncomfortable with whoever we put out there.
"There's some other areas of our game that I've been focusing on and we need to focus on. Goaltending overall has been solid."
Coyle Shifts to Wing
Sean Kuraly practiced in full on Friday and was the B's third-line center with Anders Bjork to his left and Charlie Coyle on his right. With the Bruins searching for more offense, Cassidy believes that shifting Coyle out of the middle could lead the 29-year-old to adapt more of an attack mentality in the offensive zone.
"We've always said around here, we feel we're at our best when all four of our centers that we've played with over the years here are at the top of their game - driving their line, playing their roles," said Cassidy. "Right now, Charlie, offensively, has gone to the net well, helped win some goals, scoring situations, but at the end at the top of the crease, he just hasn't generated off his stick as much as he would like, or we would like.
"Putting him to the wing, maybe he's getting pucks in different places. Maybe coming off a wing, you're usually in attack mode, especially if you have a step on the defense. You can be first on the forecheck a little more without as much in the back of your mind with defensive responsibilities, especially playing a guy like Sean, who likes to play down low.
"Hopefully it translates into a little more action at the net from him. You've got Bjork on the other side who's got good speed, just got to get heavier on pucks in his situations. You've got a line that can check well, skate well, they can all kill penalties. You've got two guys who can take draws. Should be able to play against anybody."
By the Numbers
- David Krejci is one assist shy of his 500th NHL helper.
- Patrice Bergeron is three points short of 900 for his career. He is one point from tying Rick Middleton for fourth place overall on the team's scoring list (898).
- The Bruins host the Penguins in the sixth of eight games between these teams this season and the fourth and final meeting at TD Garden. Overall, the Bruins and Penguins are meeting for the 216th time in their histories with the Bruins having a 119-67-21-8 record and 813-659 scoring advantage in those games.
- The Bruins are 3-2-0 in the first five games of this season's series vs. the Penguins with a 3-2 overtime win in Boston on Jan. 26, a 4-1 home victory on Jan. 28, a 4-1 road loss on March 15, a 2-1 road victory on March 16, and Thursday's 4-1 loss.
Friday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Anders Bjork - Sean Kuraly - Charlie Coyle
Trent Frederic - Jack Studnicka - Zach Senyshyn/Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy
Jeremy Lauzon - Kevan Miller
Jakub Zboril - Steven Kampfer
Jarred Tinordi - Connor Clifton