It’s been a while since the NHL has held practices or games, so we’ll forgive you if you forgot where things stood for the Boston Bruins when the 2019-20 season paused.
But, after all, that’s why we’re here.
Now, many storylines from March at the time of the pause are moot now, not only because they’re about four months old at this point, but also because the NHL’s return to play format isn’t traditional (obviously), so spots in the standings and things of that nature have flown out the window.
That said though, here are a few things that were surrounding the Bruins at the time of the March pause that still are applicable on *checks notes* July 13.
Where do Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie fit in?
Remember these guys?
Kase and Ritchie were the B’s two additions at the trade deadline, and both were taking some time to find their footing in Boston. Similarly, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was trying to determine where they all fit. Should Kase and Ritchie play together on a line with David Krejci? Should Kase stay with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, with Ritchie joining Charlie Coyle on the third line?
Who knows, but you can bet that Cassidy has spent some time the last few months watching more film of the two in Boston and Anaheim, so he might have a couple of ideas up his sleeve. Maybe Kase goes to the top line to join Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while David Pastrnak rides with Krejci. What if Ritchie goes to the fourth line?
Regardless, this means the Bruins are loaded with depth. So expect Cassidy to get creative in the early stages of training camp to see where everyone best fits.
Is Jeremy Lauzon still a lineup mainstay?
You could argue no one on the Bruins was more adversely impacted by the pause than Lauzon. He had carved out a nice role for himself playing on the third defensive pairing with Matt Grzelcyk, and all signs were pointing toward him locking down that spot long term.
But as we’ve seen before, sometimes young players just breaking into the NHL take a while to get going at the start of a new season, and that effectively is what this is. Connor Clifton and John Moore were knocking on the door to bump out Lauzon at the time things paused, so Lauzon is walking a tightrope if he wants to stay in the lineup going forward.
Should Sean Kuraly play center or wing?
Kuraly had become such a quality option as the fourth-line center over the last few years that his run as a third-line left winger feels like just a blip on the radar.
But he was spending significant time alongside Charlie Coyle on the third unit leading up to the stoppage, and that might be a role he’s equipped for going forward. He does a fine job driving a line as a winger and hunting pucks while using his speed to create plays, and not having to center the line frees him up to be a bit more creative offensively.
Further, Par Lindholm had fit in well as the fourth-line pivot between Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner with Kuraly up, so it’s not as though moving Kuraly adversely impacted the fourth unit.
Where does Anders Bjork fit in?
Kuraly got his opportunity on the third line because Cassidy was, to be blunt, growing tired of Bjork playing too soft. Cassidy made clear that not playing strong enough would get him zipped up to the press box to spectate games in a New York (Toronto?) second in the postseason, and at this point Bjork should be considered an outsider looking to unseat someone from their spot in the lineup.
The skill is there, and Bjork has shown that he’s rounded out his game in both ends, but if the physicality isn’t present and he’s getting pushed around too much, Cassidy won’t let him sniff the lineup given the surplus of options the Bruins have.
When things halted, we were trying to figure out what Bjork’s path back into the lineup would be short of injuries. Months later, that question remains.