David Pastrnak has already missed more time than he’d like.

David Pastrnak (upper-body) has been cleared to return to the lineup (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak (upper-body) has been cleared to return to the lineup (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports)

David Pastrnak has already missed more time than he’d like.

Limited to just 14 games this season — out for two because of a suspension for his illegal check to the head of the Rangers’ Dan Girardi late last month and absent from the last three games with an upper-body injury — the 20-year-old returned as a full participant in a Wednesday practice at Warrior Ice Arena and downplayed any frustration with the roadblocks in an incredibly successful season so far, with 10 goals and 14 points in 14 games played.

“It’s part of hockey and you have to get through it,” Pastrnak said of the missed time lodged in between hot streaks. “Every player’s going to be get suspended, every player’s going to be injured, but hopefully now I can keep playing well and keep playing now.”

Back in his usual spot on the Bruins’ first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Pastrnak will travel to Ottawa with the team for Thursday’s game against the Senators, though no there’s no official status put on No. 88 for that game like in the case of Zdeno Chara (who is out).

“He was cleared to have full practice today,” Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed. “Unless there’s a setback tomorrow, I would anticipate him to hopefully play. Again, there might be a setback, this was his first day of full practice here, so we’ll see.”

“I’m ready,” Pastrnak said. “And [we’ll] see if I’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.”

In five games without Pastrnak this season, the Bruins have scored just nine goals on 166 shots, including two on 41 shots on Jake Allen in last night’s defeat at the hands of the Blues, but the team’s leading goal scorer doesn’t feel any added pressure in his potential return to the lineup.

“Literally no pressure,” Pastrnak, who became the first Bruin to score 10 goals in the first 13 games of the season since Cam Neely accomplished the feat in 1994-95, said with a chuckle. “Every game you’re not gonna score five goals like as a team. Some games you’re going to win 1-0 and some games you’re gonna win 5-4, so we have to keep playing in our system.

“No matter if we win 1-0 or 6-4, and I’d rather win 1-0 anyways.”

Tomorrow will be the first of four head-to-heads between the Bruins and Senators this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

For the third straight season, a preview of Life Without Zdeno Chara has hit the Bruins.

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

For the third straight season, a preview of Life Without Zdeno Chara has hit the Bruins.

Injured in the second period of last night’s 4-2 loss to the Blues and absent from Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed via press release that Chara has suffered a lower-body injury that will keep him out of a Thanksgiving night tilt against the Senators.

It’s unclear how or where Chara sustained the injury (the best guess was a collision with the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz in the corner on his one, 52-second shift in the second period), but the Bruins will have to make do without their best defender for at least the Ottawa game, but perhaps the club’s signature Black Friday home game against Dougie Hamilton and the Flames also.

“He’s not coming on the road trip, obviously” B’s coach Claude Julien confirmed after practice. “From what I’ve been told, he’s day to day. Day to day to me I think it’s pretty doubtful for these next two games.

After that, we’ll see. So that’s where we are with him.”

The 39-year-old captain has been a rock on a top-pairing with 19-year-old rookie Brandon Carlo, with a team-leading 22:41 of time on ice per contest this season, and has chipped in with one goal and six points to go with his plus-12 rating. Chara also ranks 12th among defenseman with at least 300 minutes of five-on-five time on ice in Corsi-For%, at 53.0%, for a B’s club that’s currently leading the league in possession at five-on-five play. So his loss, even for a game, is noticeable.

“I think I’m going to answer it the same way the same way I answered it at the beginning of the year when you guys asked me about our d-corps,” Julien, whose team is allowing just 27.3 shots per game (the third-best mark in the league in that category), said of somebody else shouldering the load in Chara’s absence. “We’re going to have to do it by committee.”

Without Chara, the Bruins’ defensive committee reunited their training camp pairing with John-Michael Liles and Carlo, while the second pairing of Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid has become a de facto first pairing for the club. Joe Morrow remained on the left side of the team’s third pairing, and Kevan Miller, out for the first 19 games of the season with a fractured left hand that finished his preseason slate, has been cleared for action and skated to Morrow’s right.

This is not the first time the Bruins have to skate without their captain — Chara missed 19 games in 2014-15 and then the first two games of last season — but with a personnel group that’s changed drastically from 2014 to 2015, and even 2015 to now, Julien knows that there’s no quick-fix, plug-and-play option that’ll mask the loss of the club’s go-to shutdown talent.

“We just lost our best defender,” Julien admitted.

“There’s no individual that’s going to step up and do his job more than we’re going to have to do it as a group.”

The Bruins have gone 11-9-1 without Chara over the last two seasons, including an 0-2-0 mark last season.

 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins were riding high, with a 1-0 lead and feverish pace of play, early in the second period when the 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara made his way to the bench, down the runway, and did not return.

Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

The Bruins were riding high, with a 1-0 lead and feverish pace of play, early in the second period when the 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara made his way to the bench, down the runway, and did not return. And by the time the rest of Chara’s team followed their captain’s lead and returned to the locker room following the third period and 41-shot barrage on the Blues’ Jake Allen, the Bruins had dropped a 4-2 final.

In one, 52-second shift in the middle frame, Chara’s probable and likely only cause of a potential injury came on a big collision the corner with Blues forward Jaden Schwartz.

“No,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, as expected, after the game when asked for an update on the team’s No. 1 defenseman. “I’ve got nothing on him yet.”

With Chara gone, the Bruins rotated five defensemen, including makeshift top pairings with Torey Krug and John-Michael Liles in Chara’s spot opposite the 19-year-old Brandon Carlo.

The Blues exposed that, too, with two goals in 2:12 late in the second period, both with Carlo on the ice.

“It’s the first time he’s played without his partner,” Julien admitted of Carlo’s struggles with No. 33 off the ice.

“It just goes to show how important Z is to our hockey club and to Brandon.”

An extended Chara absence would likely thrust Colin Miller, a healthy scratch for the last four games, back into the lineup, as Kevan Miller (fractured left hand) is inching closer to a return, but is still not fully set to go.

The 39-year-old Chara has scored one goal and added five assists in 19 games this year, and is averaging a team-high 22:41 of time on ice per contest this season. Chara has missed 21 games — 19 of which because a knee injury sustained in a collision with the Islanders’ John Tavares in Oct. 2014 — since the start of the 2014-15 season.

The Bruins are back in game action Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

The Bruins were riding high, with a 1-0 lead and feverish pace of play, early in the second period when the 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara made his way to the bench, down the runway, and did not return. And by the time the rest of Chara’s team followed their captain’s lead and returned to the locker room following the third period and 41-shot barrage on the Blues’ Jake Allen, the Bruins had dropped a 4-2 final.

In one, 52-second shift in the middle frame, Chara’s probable and likely only cause of a potential injury came on a big collision the corner with Blues forward Jaden Schwartz.

“No,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, as expected, after the game when asked for an update on the team’s No. 1 defenseman. “I’ve got nothing on him yet.”

With Chara gone, the Bruins rotated five defensemen, including makeshift top pairings with Torey Krug and John-Michael Liles in Chara’s spot opposite the 19-year-old Brandon Carlo.

The Blues exposed that, too, with two goals in 2:12 late in the second period, both with Carlo on the ice.

“It’s the first time he’s played without his partner,” Julien admitted of Carlo’s struggles with No. 33 off the ice.

“It just goes to show how important Z is to our hockey club and to Brandon.”

An extended Chara absence would likely thrust Colin Miller, a healthy scratch for the last four games, back into the lineup, as Kevan Miller (fractured left hand) is inching closer to a return, but is still not fully set to go.

The 39-year-old Chara has scored one goal and added five assists in 19 games this year, and is averaging a team-high 22:41 of time on ice per contest this season. Chara has missed 21 games — 19 of which because a knee injury sustained in a collision with the Islanders’ John Tavares in Oct. 2014 — since the start of the 2014-15 season.

The Bruins are back in game action Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

At 39, 6-foot-9 captain Zdeno Chara is still every bit as important to the Bruins as he was when he first came to the team 10 years ago. Something the team learned — or better yet, were painfully reminded of — the hard way in a 3-2 Tuesday loss to the Blues at TD Garden.

David Backes scored his fourth goal of the season, and his first against his former team, Tuesday against the Blues. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

David Backes scored his fourth goal of the season, and his first against his former team, Tuesday against the Blues. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

At 39, 6-foot-9 captain Zdeno Chara is still every bit as important to the Bruins as he was when he first came to the team 10 years ago. Something the team learned — or better yet, were painfully reminded of — the hard way in a 4-2 Tuesday loss to the Blues at TD Garden.

Up by one through the opening frame behind David Backes’ fourth goal of the season — and his first in as many appearances against his former team — scored on the power play 7:44 into the first period, the Bruins jumped on the Blues in a 20-minute stretch that left the Blues frustrated and with just seven shots on goal.

But when Chara returned to the B’s locker room after just one shift in the second period, a 52-second shift in the opening minute plus, and did not return, the Blues simply exposed the Black and Gold’s massive loss on the backend.

Forward Jori Lehtera was the first to find the back of the net for St. Louis with a brilliant tip-in through Tuukka Rask, and although the Bruins countered with an equally pretty Dominic Moore shorthanded tally midway through the period, the loss of Big Z was exposed in just 2:12.

Robert Bortuzzo’s first goal of the season scored under a sprawling Brandon Carlo brought the Blues and Bruins even at 2-2, and just two shifts later, with Carlo paired with Torey Krug instead of his partner on the Bortuzzo goal (John-Michael Liles), the Blues once again attacked the 19-year-old’s side, with Paul Stastny keeping the puck out of his reach for his fifth goal of the year.

Without Chara, Carlo looked every bit the rookie, and struggled to find his footing — at least in the calming manner B’s fans had become accustomed to during his time with the perennial Norris candidate — and a veteran Blues team made the Bruins pay.

The Bruins found chances, but struggled to get another close to a real quality chance with the exception of a last-minute rebound blast from Ryan Spooner stopped by the Blues’ Jake Allen, and a Lehtera empty-net goal gave this one a 4-2 final.

Here are four other things we learned in the loss

Backes scores 20,000th goal in franchise history

In his first career head-to-head with the Blues, the team he captained for five years and skated for in the first 10 years of his NHL career, it was David Backes that opened up the game’s scoring with a power-play goal good for the organization’s 20,000th goal. With the goal, the Bruins joined the Montreal Canadiens as the only other NHL goal to reach such a milestone.

And Backes is now just a cool 541 goals away from tying Johnny Bucyk for the most in B’s history.

Krejci moves into tie for 15th-most points in team history

The Backes goal was more than just the 20,000th in the 92-year history over the Bruins. Credited with an assist on the goal, David Krejci recorded career point No. 484 and moved into a tie with Don Marcotte for 15th on the club’s all-time scoring list. Krejci, who has spent his entire career with the Bruins, accomplished the feat in just 642 games compared to Marcotte’s 868, and is now just 15 points away from tying Adam Oates for the 14th on the franchise leaderboard.

Torey Krug also picked up an assist on the Backes goal, giving him 100 career assists.

Bruins start strong but ultimately fade as Blues flip script

The Bruins were a straight-up juggernaut in the opening 20 minutes of this contest. With a furious pace that forced the Blues into two penalties against, including one less than a minute into the game, the Bruins frequently hemmed the visitors in their own zone, and intercepted just about every attempted breakout pass or clear out of their end. But when a sluggish second period gave the Blues life and a lead through 40 minutes of play, it was Ken Hitchcock’s team that pressed the Bruins with significant pushback and forced the Bruins into careless own-zone errors.

Spooner moved back to center on all-center third line

After what’s been a few encouraging-but-rather-listless weeks on the wing, Bruins coach Claude Julien demoted Ryan Spooner down to the fourth line in the third period of Saturday’s victory over the Jets. Spooner manned the third-line center spot in an 11-skater practice the next day, and actually stay there for tonight’s head-to-head with the Blues. In between Tim Schaller and Austin Czarnik in a line of all pivots, Spooner put forth another Just OK night and was really outdone by Czarnik in terms of creating opportunities and chances through the middle of the attacking zone.

This has been a year to forget to Spooner, and even a return to a familiar spot, one he recorded 13 goals and 49 points in a season ago, did not come with the results he’s longed for.

The Bruins are back at it with a Thanksgiving night road game against the Ottawa Senators.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson
David Backes will play against the St. Louis Blues for the first time in his career tonight. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

David Backes will play against the St. Louis Blues for the first time in his career tonight. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

A decade into his NHL career, Bruins forward David Backes will do a first tonight at TD Garden, and that’s play against the St. Louis Blues.

That’s because this is his first meeting against the city and team he called his own for 10 seasons — including seven with a letter on his jersey and five as the team’s captain — since coming to the Black and Gold on a five-year, $30 million contract on July 1.

“I have a lot of mixed emotions,” Backes admitted ahead of his first head-to-head with his former team following the team’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “You’re going to see a lot of familiar faces. [I] just want to stay in the moment and do what I can to help our team.

“Lot of good people over there, lot of good friends, but we’re wearing different jerseys tonight.”

In a B’s jersey and on a second line with David Krejci (and now Matt Beleskey on the left instead of Ryan Spooner), the 32-year-old Backes has been as advertised for the Bruins group that really wanted — and needed — another voice in their locker room.

“I think there’s a lot in his personality that makes him a natural leader,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of Backes’ impact. “His demeanor has been a great addition to our room. We’ve lost some guys like Chris Kelly, who was really good in the room, Shawn Thornton was another guy. You always look for people that are going to be able to do both. Off the ice he’s been a great addition to our group, and at the same time, he’s a leader on the ice as far as making his linemates and others accountable.”

What’s made Backes such a key addition to the Bruins beyond the numbers (he’s recorded three goals and seven points in 13 games this year) has been his wealth of experience and knowledge in almost every possible situation. But this situation is new.

“You relish the opportunity playing your old team, but at the same time it’s unfamiliar territory,” Backes said of tonight’s tilt. “There’s not a ton of stuff I haven’t experienced in this league, but this is one of them.”

But No. 42 is not going to let him shy away from playing his brand of hockey.

“I think they’re well aware and I’m well aware that we’re going after two points tonight,” Backes continued.

“And as long as I’m shooting on the right net, I think we’ll be just fine.”

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson