The Bruins are just one setback-free pregame warmup for David Krejci and Matt Grzelcyk away from a significant boost to their reeling lineup.
Two of Boston’s biggest losses in recent weeks, Grzelcyk and Krejci are both considered likely to return to action tonight, per Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“Both of them will go for warm up and give us the green light, hopefully, after that,” Cassidy, whose team begins a three-game homestand with tonight’s head-to-head with the Capitals, said. “But they’re trending very well.”
Out of action for the last four games after suffering a lower-body injury against the Devils last month, Krejci was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice and was on the ice for Wednesday’s morning skate. That’s a positive sign in regards to his status (not being on the ice today would’ve created some doubt), and meeting with the media after Wednesday’s skate, Krejci said that he’s ‘very excited’ to return to action, so maybe that’s your tell.
The plan is for Krejci to skate on a second line with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.
In the case of Grzelcyk, however, it’s been one blow after another, really, with the 5-foot-9 defender injured in all but two of his six appearances to date this season.
“It’s been tough, to be honest,” Grzelcyk said of his injury-plagued 2021 campaign. “Trying not to get too down. It’s been exciting to see the team come together and play well. I think we’ve done a great job out battling through adversity. But of course, you want to be there and join your teammates.”
Grzelcyk’s loss has been noticeable at times, too, with the Bruins struggling on zone entries and movement through the neutral zone, and with Boston’s power play going just 3-for-18 over his most recent seven-game absence.
“I think this time was quite a lot of frustration, just wanting to take some time off for a couple of games and then come back and have [another injury] happen a couple of times, it’s unfortunate,” Grzelcyk said. “Still a lot of games left and I think the focus was now kind of don’t come back until I’m 100 percent ready and feel confident. That’s how I feel going to the game tonight.
“And I’m just excited to be back. It’s been a long time.”
Tonight will also mark Zdeno Chara’s return to Boston for the first time since joining the Capitals as a free agent. This will be Chara’s first game in Boston as a visitor since Mar. 16, 2006.
“Every time a player like that comes back home, it’s a special night,” Krejci said of Chara’s return. “You know, without fans tonight, it will be a little bit different, but it’s going to be obviously nice to see him again.”
The Bruins are 1-0-1 against the Capitals in 2021, mounting massive comebacks in each contest thus far.
Here’s the complete lineup and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Jake DeBrusk
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Sean Kuraly – Jack Studnicka – Chris Wagner
Jakub Zboril – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk – Brandon Carlo
Jarred Tinordi – Connor Clifton