In this week’s edition of Bruins Weekly, five players enter the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, another rookie makes his NHL debut on defense, David Krejci reaches a milestone and more.
Five Players Enter COVID-19 Protocols
Earlier this season, the Bruins had two games with the Buffalo Sabres and one with the New Jersey Devils postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. Now, Boston is dealing with their own outbreak, which has forced the cancellation of their last two games against the Sabres and New York Islanders. Boston had Jake DeBrusk, Craig Smith, David Pastrnak, Krejci, and Sean Kuraly in protocols. Wednesday, the Bruins announced that Pastrnak, Smith, and Krejci came off the list, while DeBrusk and Kuraly remained on it.
As it stands now, the Bruins have played 28 games, which is the least amount of games in the league by any team. They have 45 days to play their remaining 28 games by the final day of the regular season, which is scheduled for May 8. There is some good news, if there is any to come out of this. The NHL has set May 9 and 10 for games to be made for some teams. It would not be surprising to see the Bruins season extend by a couple of days past the May 8 regular-season finale to make some games.
It is not ideal to be dealing with a shutdown at this point in the season, but that’s the card the Bruins have been dealt. Boston has not added any players in the last five days to the protocols list and with three coming off, they are allowed to reopen their facitilits and resume team acitivites. They were scheduled to hold a practice at their practice facility, Warrior Ice Arena, Wednesday night. The Bruins still have two players in the protocols, but the two-week shutdown that the Sabres and Devils faced earlier this season looks like it has been avoided.
Ahcan Makes NHL Debut
At the beginning of the season, it was clear the Bruins were going through a youth movement on defense following the departures of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara in free agency. Jeremy Lauzon and rookie Jakub Zboril made the roster out of training camp and if injuries occurred, the team knew that there were young blueliners in the minors that could fill voids if needed. Boston never thought that they would have to go as deep into their prospect pool on defense to test their depth as they have.
After Jarred Tinordi went down with an injury following a hit in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 16, coach Bruce Cassidy called on Jack Ahcan to make his NHL debut against the Buffalo Sabres two nights later. Ahcan was paired with veteran Steven Kampfer on the third pairing and finished the game with three shots on net and two blocks in just under 18 minutes of ice time.
Ahcan was signed as an undrafted free agent in March of 2020 out of St. Cloud State University. He impressed early in the season for the Providence Bruins in American Hockey League, which helped him get the call to Boston. It was just one game against the Sabres, but the 23-year-old Ahcan was steady all night.
Krejci Hits Milestone
Coming into the season, David Krejci was 14 points shy of 700 for his career. Things did not start out well for him this season as he struggled scoring goals, but if there’s one part of his game that the Bruins can expect from their second-line center, it’s his playmaking ability that has allowed him to rack up 494 assists over his 15-year career. On March 18 in Buffalo, Krejci collected his 700th career point in the Bruins 4-1 victory.
With the Bruins and Sabres tied 1-1 in the second period, Krejci assisted on Jake DeBrusk’s power play goal for the milestone point. Krejci finished the game with three assists and in the process, moved up to eighth on Boston’s all-time list for points in franchise history. Wayne Cashman is next on the list ahead of Krejci, who is in the final year of a contract that carries a $7.25 million cap hit, with 793 points. Brad Marchand is 22 points behind Krejci with 680.
Fans Back at the TD Garden
Boston is scheduled to kick off a seven-game homestand Thursday night against the New York Islanders and for the first time in over a year, fans will be in attendance at the TD Garden. In the next Massachusetts reopening phase that began Monday, the Bruins are allowed to have the Garden at 12-percent (%) capacity. It will be the first game since March 7, 2020, against the Tampa Bay Lightning that fans are allowed in the arena.
After spending much of the first half of the season on the road, the Bruins will play 17 of their 28 remaining games at home. So far this season, they are 7-3-1, with two of the three regulation losses coming to the Devils and the other was a shutout by the New York Rangers.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: vs. New York Islanders, 7 p.m.
- Saturday: vs. Buffalo Sabres, 1 p.m.
- Sunday: vs. New Jersey Devils, 5:30 p.m.
- Tuesday: vs. New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.