For the to start with time in nearly 5 months, the Bruins will be enjoying a hockey sport on Thursday night time.
Certainly, it is only an exhibition versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, and it will not make any difference in the least in the awarding of the Stanley Cup, presumably someday in October.
But thinking about it’s the one particular and only possibility for groups to kick off any rust and tinker with line combinations and protection pairings right before the games commence to make any difference on Sunday, this one will not be your ordinary exhibition.
The Bruins might have hit the pause as the NHL’s best team. They should really even now be among the the favorites to earn the Cup. But there are, shall we say, concerns.
At the best of that list?
Very well, it has to be with what’s likely on at right wing in the middle of the lineup. GM Don Sweeney experienced what was shaping up as his ideal trade deadline to date. He received what is hoped to be the extended-awaited second-line proper wing for David Krejci in Ondrej Kase as properly as an update in the brawn department in Nick Ritchie, who was past observed on the Warrior Ice Arena ice manning the third-line right wing with Charlie Coyle. The noteworthy prices have been a first-round pick, really practical — if a tad aggravating — forward Danton Heinen and David Backes, alongside with most of his big wage.
Now, thanks presumably to the coronavirus and/or its screening and protocols, they are without the need of both of those Kase and Ritchie. Kase has not been in a position to participate in a group apply given that March, did not vacation with the staff and will will need to quarantine for 4 days any time he does get there in Toronto. Ritchie did journey with the staff to Toronto, but skipped his sixth straight apply (seventh in all) on Wednesday and is quickly falling deeper and further into the capture-up hole.
In the meantime, Jack Studnicka is filling in for Kase and the newly re-signed Anders Bjork is manning the proper wing subsequent to Coyle.
Both are great young potential customers. Studnicka in specific is intriguing. In his to start with full professional season, the 2017 2nd-round draft select loved the sort of time commensurate with his top rated-prospect position though participating in middle, the essential posture for which he’s projected to enjoy in his profession.
Studnicka experienced also seemed incredibly good in his Phase 3 methods, solidifying — for now — his place on the line with Krejci. He’s also acquired some degree of cohesiveness and belief with Krejci, which can be a significant indicator of good results for any one who plays with the crafty Czech pivot.
Bjork, also, had a superior Stage 3, earning kudos from mentor Bruce Cassidy on the initial day. He invested most of the limited schooling camp on the top rated line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in the absent David Pastrnak’s suitable-wing location, but dropped down to the Coyle line upon Pastrnak’s return. He experienced played on his normal facet on the remaining for considerably of the season and that served him get back some of his footing following possessing his very first two pro seasons minimize limited for shoulder surgeries, but he performed significantly of his collegiate career on the correct aspect. Bjork, in a battle with fellow child corps member Karson Kuhlman for the place, looks buff and ready to take care of the actual physical rigors of NHL hockey.
So yes, it will be pleasurable to get a seem at these promising players. But if Bruins’ management assumed this lineup represented the club’s most effective likelihood at winning a Cup, they all would have been in the lineup at the time of the stoppage. They have been not.
Anything else to hold an eye on? Test the 3rd defense pair. The chemistry involving Matt Grzelcyk and Jeremy Lauzon may perhaps not be settled science however, but it’s getting there. Lauzon, a single of the 6 Bruin picks from the to start with two rounds of the 2015 draft, was promoted from Providence mid-season and has presented some a lot more size and jam on the back conclusion, as a result considerably holding off Connor Clifton and John Moore for the job.
My eyes and at any time-growing intestine are telling me that Lauzon will rise to the challenge of the playoffs. Competitiveness is just one of his most effective characteristics. Nevertheless, he’s received a full of 35 NHL game titles under his belt, and he does not have a playoff notch on that belt.
And lastly — but by no usually means, least — there is the goaltending enjoy. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak gained the Jennings Trophy for fewest targets permitted and Rask is a very deserving finalist for the Vezina Trophy. So how is goaltending a issue? Since it normally is. It is the playoffs, and a incredibly strange type of playoffs at that. In which is Rask’s match just after four-plus months off? And possibly a lot more importantly, will his head and concentration be the same in the sterile, vacuum environment of an vacant Scotiabank Arena as it was in the 2019 playoffs? People are variables that bear shut watching.
So the game starts off at 7 p.m. Delight in all the problems and gnashing of tooth about your Bruins and their chances at winning a Cup. All the authentic-lifetime worries will continue to be waiting for you when it is around, but it will be a pleasant respite.