The NHL’s pause, though it wasn’t under ideal circumstances, might’ve been necessary for David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
Over DeBrusk’s first two full-time NHL seasons, he formed a nice duo with Krejci, regardless of which winger was cycling through on the right side. But that came to a halt during the current campaign, to the point that head coach Bruce Cassidy called out their struggles and moved them away from each other, most often putting DeBrusk with Charlie Coyle.
But in two days of training camp ahead of the NHL’s season restart, DeBrusk has been skating with Krejci, while Karson Kuhlman and Anders Bjork have taken turns rounding out the line. Presumably, once Ondrej Kase is cleared to rejoin the team, that right wing job will be his to lose.
But in the interim, Cassidy is hoping that DeBrusk and Krejci can rekindle what they used to have.
“Sometime absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Cassidy said. “So maybe they’ll reconnect (after) a little time away. They’ve had good chemistry in the past, they’re not (Brad Marchand) and (Patrice Bergeron) simply because they haven’t had the reps or years of work and Jake isn’t in Marchy’s category when it comes to time in the league and resume, and certainly Krech and Bergy are very similar, so you’ve got to give that a little more time.
“So we’re going to go back to it, if we don’t like what we see through some of the round robin practices then Jake goes with Coyle and we probably try Ritchie or someone else (with Krejci). We’re going to give it a look and see where it’s at, again I still think it’s early, until we start getting into some good 5-on-5, even within our own group, to see how they play 5-on-5 against live as possible competition and see where it leads.
“We tried different things because we made deals at the deadline to try to get guys in the more comfortable position. We didn’t feel we were breaking up a real hot duo either, so it probably was as good a time as any to do it. My guess is that if the pause hadn’t happened we probably would’ve went back to Krech and DeBrusk at some point to see what it looked like from a little time apart, so we’re doing it now.”
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s practice:
— Urho Vaakanainen, Anton Blidh and Dan Vladar all took part in the morning practice, while Trent Frederic was spotted skating afterwards. That means the only players yet to show up at Warrior Ice Arena are David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase.
Bruce Cassidy shared the latest on the two wingers, including a timeline for when they might return. Cassidy indicated Monday and Tuesday that their absence doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an issue with injury or health. Both players went back to the Czech Republic during the pause, so they likely are in the quarantine protocol.
— There was a pretty funny moment at the end of practice, as Torey Krug and Connor Clifton decided to drop the gloves and fight.
It wasn’t a Zach Sanford-Robert Bortuzzo type of deal, rather two, um, heavyweights, deciding to go at it. It was all a joke, with Krug chasing down his fellow blueliner before the two engaged in a scrap.
— After being referred to as the best player on the ice in Monday’s session, Bjork was rewarded by getting bumped up from the second line right wing to the first.
As a result, Kuhlman went down to the second line. You can look at Tuesday’s lines and defensive pairings here.
— Krejci spent much of the NHL’s pause down in South Carolina, so he, like many others, wasn’t able to access ice for months.
However, he got back with enough time to skate a little bit before Phase 3 began
“I spent most of the time during this pandemic down in South Carolina, so I wasn’t able to skate there,” Krejci said Tuesday. “But I got here about three and a half weeks ago, back to Boston, and have been skating for almost two weeks now. Feeling better, I feel like conditioning is no problem, I’ve just got to get up to speed with my hands and put myself in a position where you have to react quick with your hands or feet or your brain as well. So those are the things I’m looking to improve over the next week or two.”
— Given the age of some Bruins, namely captain Zdeno Chara, there’s a little bit of outside concern around the 43-year-old’s ability to ramp up quickly and get into playoff games.
Pretty much everyone that’s spoken Monday and Tuesday has said the pace at practice has been good. The captain agrees, and in doing so acknowledged that physically he’s felt fine.
“I feel good. I think that most of us, we were active, we stayed in shape,” said Chara, who spent part of the pause in Florida. “I think we have a good, responsible group in here and I think everybody took it seriously, and I think it showed the first two days the tempo and the speed of those first two practices were pretty good.”
— Some video from Tuesday’s session.
Here are some highlights from Day 2 of Bruins training camp.
Video via the Bruins. pic.twitter.com/tZmP9pmCwB
— Logan Mullen (@ByLoganMullen) July 14, 2020
— The Bruins will practice again Wednesday, but it’s expected to be a pretty small group of guys, as Cassidy is giving a maintenance day to those who have been skating well prior to Monday.