The Boston Bruins are entering a mad dash to Christmas, and their challenge just got much, much bigger.
Craig Smith on Tuesday morning was added to the COVID-19 protocol. Brad Marchand, after participating in morning skate, was added to the protocol Tuesday afternoon. Because players have to quarantine for 10 days, the Bruins will be without Marchand and Smith for their six games between Tuesday and Dec. 23.
While improving of late, the Bruins have struggled to generate secondary scoring consistently, and that’s not about to get any easier to rectify with Marchand, and to a lesser degree, Smith, out.
The biggest byproduct of this is that the Bruins need Jake DeBrusk to really step up. During morning skate, before Marchand was placed on the COVID-19 protocols, the Bruins had DeBrusk playing in Smith’s spot on the second line right wing. He has two goals in his last six games, and the Bruins could really benefit from him providing offense the way he did earlier in his career. While he has asked for a trade from the Bruins, he has been asked to continue to play hard and be committed, and by all accounts he’s done that.
Presumably, Taylor Hall will move up to the first line and take over Marchand’s spot. The Bruins could add either Nick Foligno or Erik Haula to the second line with DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle, with the other staying on the third line with Tomas Nosek and, most likely, Karson Kuhlman.
A move from Providence seems likely, with Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, Chris Wagner and Jesper Froden all representing potential options. It’s worth noting that the Bruins have two games scheduled in Canada during the upcoming stretch, and are supposed to leave for Montreal on Thursday night. The Carolina Hurricanes currently have players stuck quarantining in Vancouver, and the last thing the Bruins want to run into a similar situation where someone gets stuck in Canada for two weeks because of a positive test.
The Bruins showed great resolve over the last two weeks by earning points in five of six games, even with everything going on. They’ve got another six games to keep grinding now.