It was a good news/bad news week for the Boston Bruins. In this edition of Bruins Weekly, a former Bruins returns to the TD Garden for the first time since leaving in free agency, the defense is hit with more injuries, Bruce Cassidy reaches a coaching milestone, an upcoming rematch in Boston is on the horizon, and more.
Krug Makes TD Garden Return
After nine seasons in Boston, Torey Krug left in free agency following the 2019-20 season to join the St. Louis Blues, and the former Michigan State standout returned Tuesday with the Blues in a 4-2 St. Louis win. He tied the game in the second period with a power play goal, his ninth goal of the season on his 31st birthday. Krug had 67 goals and 270 assists wearing the Black and Gold, but he was the power play quarterback where the plays went through him. He also had 24 power play goals and 136 assists.
Tuesday’s game was the first for Krug since March 22 when he suffered an upper body in a game against the Washington Capitals. This season, he has 27 assists with his nine goals in 58 games, with three goals and 14 assists coming on the man-advantage. During the first TV timeout in the first period, the Bruins played a video tribute for Krug.
Injuries Piling up on Defense
On their recent four-game road trip, the Bruins suffered two injuries to key members of the defense. Newly acquired Hampus Lindholm was injured in the 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on April 5 and missed the final two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Capitals. Sunday in Washington, Matt Grzelcyk lasted just four shifts into the 4-2 loss after exiting with an upper-body injury. Tuesday night against the Blues, Brandon Carlo left the game with an injury.
Injuries are never good to deal with at any part of the season, but to have them occur in the final dozen games ahead of the playoffs is not good, especially with Mike Reilly and Derek Forbort struggling the way they have in recent games. Jack Ahcan practiced Tuesday morning with the Bruins and most likely find his way into the lineup Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators. One more injury and then things get really hairy for Boston as to who would next up.
Bruins Unable to Repeat January Sweep
In January, the Bruins had a road trip that ended with a trip against the Lightning and Capitals two days apart. They won both, 5-2, in Tampa Bay and then 7-3 in Washington. Last weekend, the Black and Gold faced the game two teams in a row, this time with a different result.
The Bruins beat the Lightning for the third time this season in four chances when Charlie Coyle scored in overtime for a 2-1 victory and Linus Ullmark made 28 saves. Sunday in Washington, Boston was not able to repeat the sweep of the two games like in January as the Capitals rallied for a 4-2 win for their third straight win.
Boston was able to win the season series over both teams, going 3-0-1 against the Lightning and 2-1 against the Capitals, which would give them confidence should they end up facing either team in the postseason.
Cassidy Reaches Coaching Milestone
In the Bruins’ loss to the Blues Tuesday night, Cassidy coached his 500th NHL game and his 390th in Boston in his sixth season. Cassidy coached 110 games over two years with the Capitals, going 47-47-9 in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.
In Boston, he has a 239-105-46 record since taking over for Claude Julien in the 2016-17 season and is 14 wins shy of 300 behind the bench in his career. During his tenure with the Bruins, he has never been one to hold back calling out players, making in-game adjustments, or sending a player to the press box for a game as a healthy scratch. Cassidy has an overall coaching record of 286-152-53.
Pittsburgh Returns to TD Garden
The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins were at the TD Garden was on Feb. 8, and they left with a 4-2 victory after scoring the final four goals of the game. More importantly, it was the game where Brad Marchand lost his cool at the end of the game, punching Penguins’ goalie Tristan Jarry in the face, then waving his stick in his face. The result was a six-game suspension for the Bruins’ first-line left wing. The two teams will battle Saturday afternoon on Causeway St.
Pittsburgh has lost four of its last six games and sitting in third place in the Metropolitan Division, just four points ahead of the fast-charging Capitals. Forward Evgeni Malkin will not play against the Bruins as he received a four-game suspension for cross-checking Matt Borowiecki of the Nashville Predators Sunday. This is the first of two meetings between the Bruins and Penguins as the two teams will play their third and final meeting of the season five days later in Pittsburgh. If Washington catches and passes the Penguins, these two games could very well provide key points in the wild card race.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: vs. Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m.
- Saturday: vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 12:30 p.m.
- Tuesday: at St. Louis Blues, 8 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.