The first two months have been up and down for the Boston Bruins, but the events in the last seven days take the cake for the worst point of the season. In this edition of Bruins Weekly, we’ll look back at the week that was, highlighted by a COVID-19 outbreak within the Bruins organization that caused the NHL to shut down team activities through the Christmas break, two prospects have an unusual week, and more.
COVID-19 Outbreak Pauses Bruins Season
Following the Bruins 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Dec. 11, it ended a very successful three-game, four-day road through Western Canada that saw the Black and Gold rack up five out of a possible six points on the trip. One day after the win over the Calgary Flames, the Flames announced that they put multiple players into COVID-19 protocols and each day that passed, the number of positive tests grew. On Dec. 14, things turned quickly for Boston.
Following the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, Brad Marchand joined Craig Smith in COVID-19 protocols, which forced them to miss the Bruins’ 4-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at the TD Garden that night. With each day that passed, the number of positive tests grew and on Saturday, the NHL did what was the right thing, they paused Boston’s season, along with the Nashville Predators, through the three-day Christmas break. They also shut down Warrior Ice Arena to the Bruins to hopefully slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Boston enters the break tied with the New York Islanders for the least amount of games played in the NHL with 26. No makeup dates have been announced of the four postponed games yet by the league, but it’s going to be a very busy remainder of the 2021-22 season for coach Bruce Cassidy’s crew once they hit the ice again on Dec. 27.
Bruins Lose Lone Game vs. Islanders
Boston traveled to Long Island for the first game of the season against the Islanders, who had their own COVID-19 outbreak and shutdown earlier this season. New York, who eliminated the Bruins in six games in last season’s playoffs, took advantage of a depleted Black and Gold roster, minus Marchand, Smith, and Patrice Bergeron among six players, to win 3-1.
Despite missing their two top scorers and their second-line right-wing, the Bruins still managed to outshoot the Islanders 41-28, but as he did in the playoffs, Semyon Varlamov frustrated Boston, only allowing a Mike Reilly goal in the final minute. It was another case of the Bruins outshooting their opponent, only to leave the ice with a loss this season. It’s becoming an all-too-common theme again.
Studnicka & Steen Have Wild Week
Think things were bad for the Bruins? It was, but prospects Oskar Steen and Jack Studnicka logged a lot of miles in three days between Boston and the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). Both players were recalled to Boston ahead of the game against the Golden Knights, only to be healthy scratches. Following the game they were returned to Providence, only to be recalled Thursday for the game at New York.
Along with Jesper Froden and Kyle Keyser, Studnicka and Steen were placed into the lineup against the Islanders, only to have Steen scratched 90 minutes before the game as he also entered COVID-19 protocols. Studnicka centered the second line with Froden on his right and Jake DeBrusk on his left. The trio combined for five of the Bruins 41 shots on Varlamov that night, but like their teammates, they went scoreless.
With the Bruins shut down until at least Dec. 27, Studnicka, Froden, and Keyser were sent back to Providence on Saturday, but don’t be surprised to see some, if not all of them, back this season in Boston.
The Week Ahead
- Monday: vs. Pittsburgh Pengins, 7 p.m.
- Wednesday: at Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m.
Yes, as of now, there are two Bruins games on the schedule in the next seven days, but that remains to be seen if they are going to be played. Expect some news shortly after Christmas as to where the team is at with the COVID-19 outbreak.
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.