Boston Bruins

Slowly but surely, the banged-up Bruins are getting healthier.

Head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed to reporters after Monday’s practice that Zdeno Chara (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (knee), and Jake DeBrusk (upper body) are all back skating with the team. He added that all three of them could “maybe” join the team on Thursday, when the B’s play the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, but hopes that they’re “probably” back by the weekend. The Bruins play the Florida Panthers in Boston on Saturday, then head to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Sunday.

The B’s got Patrice Bergeron (foot fracture) and Torey Krug (lower body) back on Sunday against the Wild, and it looks like the aforementioned three aren’t far behind. But David Backes (leg laceration) and Rick Nash (upper body) aren’t quite as close to returning, according to Cassidy. Backes could resume skating on Tuesday, while Nash has yet to start skating again and lacks a clear timetable. Cassidy described Nash as the furthest away from game action.

Either way, the Bruins keep grabbing points and staying at the top of the standings. So it’s ultimately a matter of ensuring maximum health just before the start of the playoffs, rather than going overboard to push for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. But the latest injury update certainly sounds promising for a Bruins team in need of good news on that front.


Around The League


In Winnipeg…

— The Bruins get the red-hot Winnipeg Jets on the road Tuesday night. Hopefully it turns out to be a Stanley Cup Final preview. The Jets have won five straight and are 9-2-1 in their last 12 games. They’ll also be a bit shorthanded, missing key pieces like Jacob Trouba (concussion), Toby Enstrom (lower body), and Dmitry Kulikov (back).

— The B’s will still have a tall task in defending Patrik Laine, who has scored 18 goals in his last 18 games and 43 on the season. And he’s still just 19 years old. Former Bruin Blake Wheeler is also having a career year at age 31, with 20 goals and a league-leading 65 assists in 75 games.

In New Jersey…

— Devils forward Marcus Johansson spoke about Brad Marchand’s elbow to his head after practice on Monday, the first time he’s addressed the incident since it happened. Johansson still hasn’t been medically cleared to play since suffering a concussion as a result of the elbow, which earned Marchand a five-game suspension. Needless to say, Johansson isn’t happy with Marchand and didn’t feel the five-game ban was enough.

“It was stupid. There’s nothing else to say about it. I think there was no point in doing that. There was no hockey play whatsoever there. It’s sad to see that there are still guys out there trying to hurt other guys … It’s sad. It’s stupid. I hope it doesn’t come to him ending someone else’s career before it’s enough. It’s not why we play the game. … I think there are always situations where you try to hit someone, you try to make a hockey play and things go wrong. Then there are plays like this where I think it’s got nothing to do with hockey. It’s sad to see. I guess I’m unfortunate to be on the receiving end of that.”

Perhaps anyone who’s been complaining that Marchand isn’t getting calls of his own should think about this. The guy he elbowed in the head still hasn’t returned, while Marchand has played in the All-Star Game and continues to rack up points and clutch goals.

Marchand has become a phenomenal player, without question. But he’s still a long way away from getting the same treatment that other stars do. Maybe when he makes it through a full season without getting himself suspended.

In Toronto…

— Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock spoke highly of the four teams that played on national TV on Sunday (h/t NESN), that being the Bruins, Wild, Jets, and Predators (arguably three of the top-4 teams in the league). He quipped that he had to turn off the Bruins game because they were simply too good…

Babcock probably flipped it back on eventually. Gotta scout your likely first-round opponent somehow.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.