BOSTON - The Bruins were back at it on Tuesday for a second straight day of practice as the team gets set for the NHL's return to play later this month. It was another spirited, 45-minute session as the Black & Gold appear to be in fine form despite a four-month layoff.
"The first two days were good," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "We had good practices, high tempo. We went through the usual drills that we go back to from the time we were in the season. I thought that the practices had good speed, good tempo, good quality. I think that all of us are gonna approach this phase not quite as a training camp but more as a return to play.
"I think every day we're gonna manage the workload and I think the coaches and trainers are doing a great job communicating and going back and forth about what's best for the group. Based on that, they will make the best decision."
Video: Chara talks to media after Tuesday practice
More notes and observations from Day 2 of Training Camp:
David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase remained absent on Tuesday, though it does sound like the wingers are nearing a return to the full group, according to coach Bruce Cassidy, who also noted that a number of players will be given a maintenance day on Wednesday and stay away from the rink.
"Some of that has to do with the timing of testing, returning from Europe, etcetera," Cassidy explained. "It's not necessarily an injury or a positive test in a lot of these cases. [On Wednesday], I'm anticipating they'll skate.
"We're gonna give a lot of the guys that have been skating a lot a maintenance day, so we'll have more of a full group on Thursday. I would anticipate more players will be joining that group."
Cassidy does not believe that missing the first two days of team practices will have much of a detrimental effect on Pastrnak or Kase, though he went on to say that an extended absence could make it more difficult to catch up to the rest of the group.
"I think missing them early, if you've been doing some off-ice work or skating wherever you've been, you can catch up," said Cassidy. "If you were to miss a full week when return to play practices are only gonna be two weeks, now you're talking about 50 percent of the time off. It will affect you. Some guys can certainly make up the ground quicker than others, that's just the way some guys are wired.
"I think once we get to Toronto and you start missing time, it becomes more paramount because now it's the details of the team getting ready."
Young centerman Trent Frederic was also missing from the main skate, though he did take the ice on his own with skating and skills instructor Kim Brandvold following practice.
Video: Cassidy talks to media after morning skate
Bjork Gets A Bump
A day after Cassidy called him the best player on the ice, Anders Bjork got the bump up to Boston's first line to skate alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. It has been a solid start to camp for the 23-year-old winger, whose goal is to solidify a spot in Boston's postseason lineup after an up-and-down regular season that saw him head to the press box following the acquisitions of Kase and Nick Ritchie at the trade deadline.
"There's competition now to get in," said Cassidy. "We like Anders in the lineup, we like Anders as a person, we like him as a player, but we're gonna play our best guys however they fit in the lineup. He's certainly in that mix. Is he automatic? No.
"For him, this return to play, these practice sessions, are more important than some of the other guys because you don't have a lot of games to prove yourself. That's something we'll be looking for with him and a handful of other guys."
Krug Knows the Deal
Torey Krug is well versed in the National Hockey League's new collective bargaining agreement. As the Bruins' NHLPA representative, the blue liner was on every call between the two sides as they negotiated a new deal - along with the Return to Play agreement - over the last few months. Naturally, Krug had a vested interest in the discussions, but as an unrestricted free agent at season's end, the details of the deal had even more significance for the 29-year-old.
"It was a good deal for us to get something to protect ourselves in the short term in order to have long-term success as a league," Krug said of the deal that will guarantee labor peace through the 2025-26 season. "I'm happy that both sides ratified it so we can move on here."
One of the biggest items in the newly ratified CBA was the salary cap, which will remain flat for at least two years due to the economic fallout surrounding the COVID-19 shutdown. With the cap remaining at $81.5 million, it could hamper teams' - including the Bruins - abilities to re-sign some of their key free agents.
"I don't really know what's gonna happen," said Krug, who has spent his entire nine-year NHL career with the Black & Gold. "Just trying to take it day by day and worry about the playoffs right now. I'll probably have to prepare for free agency, and we'll see what happens there. In terms of what's going on with the Bruins, that's probably a question for someone else."
It's likely that Krug is in line for a lengthy, lucrative contract that will provide him with a significant raise on his current annual cap hit of $5.25 million. With so much at stake, Krug acknowledged the risks that come with returning to play this summer.
"I'd be lying to you if I said it's not [a risk], having three, four months off and then going right into the most intense hockey you could possibly play at any level - there's always risk for injury no matter when you play," said Krug. "But certainly, in this moment, you don't have the normal training that you do and preparation and work to make sure your body feels good and you can go in there without any worries."
A return to the ice also means tremendous sacrifice, especially for Krug, whose life has changed greatly in recent years. The Michigan native's priorities have shifted as he's become a husband and father, which will make being away from wife, Melanie, and one-year-old daughter, Saylor, for an extended period of time a significant challenge.
"[Saylor's] already been changing so much by the day that I can't imagine what it's gonna be like no being there for two months, let alone the health concerns and everything that goes along with COVID and everything we've been going through, the family aspect for sure," said Krug. "It's been important to every single guy, specifically on our team, to have the families involved and included…family is so important to the team and each player."
Ultimately, Krug knows that he has a job to do and is prepared to do whatever it takes to bring a Stanley Cup back to Boston this fall.
"At the end of the day, competing and being part of the core leadership group has been important to me and trying to build something and be a part of something special," said Krug. "Any time you get a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, I think you'd take it every time you get it. Hopefully we can do that as a group and enjoy each other's company in the bubble up there and hopefully come home with something we can hang our hat on."
Video: Krug Speaks to Media After Bruins First Day of Camp
The Bruins always rely heavily on their championship core to pull them through, but now more than ever the Black & Gold's veteran leadership will be crucial to making sure that the team remains focused and on track during such unique circumstances. That brain trust was on full display following Tuesday's skate, as Bergeron, Chara, Krejci, Marchand, and Krug met for an extended discussion at center ice.
"I'm not sure it's every day that we're drilling it into them," Cassidy said of his directive to the veterans, "but to carry that message and make sure players understand what's at stake because you guys have been through it a little more and know the sacrifices together to win a Stanley Cup. And our players listen to them."
Quote of the Day
"Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder, too. Maybe they'll reconnect after a little time away. They've had good chemistry in the past." - Cassidy on pairing Krejci and Jake DeBrusk back together during camp
Tuesday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Anders Bjork
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Nick Ritchie - Charlie Coyle - Sean Kuraly
Joakim Nordstrom - Par Lindholm - Chris Wagner
Paul Carey - Jack Studnicka - Zach Senyshyn
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Jeremy Lauzon
John Moore - Connor Clifton
Urho Vaakanainen - Jakub Zboril
Video: Krejci talks to media after second day of camp