The Bruins are so injured these days that they almost warrant a straight-up injury report, a la the Patriots every Friday. So, as the B's get set for a big matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, let's do exactly that.
Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk, who are both battling upper-body injuries, are closer to returning. But both will be out on Thursday night. David Backes, meanwhile, is likely to return after resuming his normal role as the third-line right wing with Riley Nash and Danton Heinen in Thursday's pregame skate. As for Charlie McAvoy, he wore a red non-contact jersey at practice and remains out.
The other Nash, Rick, is still the biggest mystery of them all. But head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that he's at least working out. However, No. 61 still can't skate due to his upper-body injury.
One surprise injury is Sean Kuraly (upper-body), who will also be out on Thursday night. Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, however, could play after suffering his own upper-body injury against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. He's a game-time decision; if he can't play, the recalled Tommy Cross would step in for him.
So without further ado, here's the unofficial Patriots-esque injury report for the Bruins ahead of tonight's game. Note that liberties were taken with this NFL-like injury designation system:
Zdeno Chara (upper-body)
Charlie McAvoy (knee)
Jake DeBrusk (upper-body)
Rick Nash (upper-body)
Sean Kuraly (upper-body)
David Backes (leg laceration)
Matt Grzelcyk (upper-body)
Across The Bench...
-- The Lightning are a very-not-good 3-4-0 in their last seven games. They lost two in a row (including a 3-0 home loss to the Bruins), then won three straight, then lost two more in a row in that span. The lowly Arizona Coyotes beat them, in Tampa, on Monday night by a 4-1 score. And Arizona's Twitter team knew they were doing the B's a solid:
You're welcome, Boston. pic.twitter.com/gDNVhRJxep
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 27, 2018
-- However, it's worth noting that Steven Stamkos didn't play on Monday night due to a minor lower-body injury. He's also a game-time decision on Thursday, but he was a full participant in their morning skate and expects to play.
-- Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman has been lighting up the score sheet lately, with seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last seven games.
-- Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, on the other hand, hasn't looked so hot lately. He's 2-3 and allowed 20 goals with an .873 save percentage in his last five starts. He missed Tampa's skate this morning, but is still likely to start after sitting on Monday.
Neely Frustrated With Player Safety
Bruins president Cam Neely expressed his frustration with the NHL's Department of Player Safety when he spoke to NBC Sports Boston's Joe Haggerty on Wednesday. Between David Backes' three-game suspension and the lack of supplemental discipline for a handful of borderline hits leveled against them, has Neely disappointed and perplexed.
"You try to live with it and move on, but when it’s happened a few times you’re like ‘Why are these coming down the way they are," said Neely. "It’s been frustrating from the top down, believe me."
On attempts to lobby with Player Safety for more consistency, Neely added: "You feel like that you can make a case or an argument, but sometimes you really feel like you’re talking to a wall."
Going case-by-case, Backes' hit on the Red Wings' Frans Nielsen and the Jets' Josh Morrissey's hit on Grzelcyk are the two big outliers. Three games versus nothing between those two incidents is just a head-scratcher. It's hard for Bruins followers not to be confused and frustrated at this point, especially after Tuesday night.
New System For Goalie Interference
The NHL has approved a new system to review goals for possible goaltender interference. It was originally believed to be put into effect by the start of the playoffs, but instead it was put in place starting on Wednesday night. Now, instead of the officials and their tablets, goalie interference will be reviewed from league officials in Toronto.
Hopefully, the change turns out to be an improvement. It remains to be seen if it leads to more consistent rulings, but it should at least be easier to analyze.
Be sure to tune in to 98.5 The Sports Hub for tonight's game, starting with pregame at 6:30 with Judd Sirott and Bob Beers. Game recap coming tonight.
-- 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 [email protected].