Monthly Archives: November 2017

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Just when the Bruins thought they were nearing full health, more bad news arrived at the doorstep on Tuesday afternoon.

While David Backes, Brad Marchand, and Ryan Spooner all participated fully in practice and appear close to a return to game action, Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci missed the session and have been ruled out for Wednesday night’s tilt with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

DeBrusk, day-to-day with an upper-body ailment, will become the 14th Bruin to miss time because of injury this season. Krejci, meanwhile, re-aggravated an upper-body injury that sidelined him for 11 games earlier this season. The pivot (also day-to-day) had played in five games since returning and was riding a two-game scoring streak (2-1-3).

“It’s tough. Every team goes through it though. You see it all around the league,” said Marchand, who has sat out six straight games and eight out of 10 because of injury. “I think Anaheim is in a similar situation as well. You have to battle through and the guys have. We’ve won four of the last five and we’re starting to come together. It’s good that guys are able to step up and guys are getting opportunities to take control and be big for us.

“Guys have done that and we have to continue to find ways to win. At the end of the year, you don’t want to have any excuses, you want to battle through it and it’s going to make the team better.”

Marchand shed the burgundy non-contact jersey for Tuesday’s session and will be a game-time decision against the Lightning.

“Not very much fun wearing that, nice to get the regular one back on and take part in the full practice,” said Marchand, “So it was good, I felt good today – felt good the last few days. I guess we’ll see.”

David Backes has also been termed day-to-day and a game-time decision for Wednesday night and appears to be well ahead of schedule in his recovery from colon surgery. Backes was originally given an estimated recovery time of eight weeks after the procedure on Nov. 2.

“Feeling pretty good,” said Backes. “Another step today in practice with full contact, trying to egg a little more contact with the day off yesterday and trying to push and test things so that you’re still in a little bit more of a controlled environment.

“If things are not good, you can call timeout, where as in a game there’s not that luxury or tell everyone to take a second to regroup. Went well, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Ryan Spooner was also back at practice after missing Sunday’s game against Edmonton.

“Had some time off, so he’s doing well. Looking good for tomorrow,” said Cassidy.

Bjork Returns

In other positive injury news, Anders Bjork was back on the ice for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 11. The rookie winger, who has missed the last six games, was donning a burgundy non-contact jersey and did not take part in the second half of practice, which consisted of several battle drills. He will not play against Tampa Bay.

Goalie Decision Coming

Cassidy did not divulge which goalie will start against the Tampa Bay Lightning, saying he will announce his final decision on Wednesday morning.

“Ideally, I’d like both goalies to give us a chance to win every night and be at the top of their game,” said Cassidy. “I think we’ve seen that with Anton [Khudobin] now, Tuukka [Rask's] not there yet. We’ve got to find a way. At the start of the year that’s what we had said, we want both goalies to play well and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what we need. That hasn’t changed.”

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The Bruins’ four-game win streak came to a close on Sunday evening with a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden.

Boston took an early lead but was unable to generate much of a sustained offensive attack, landing just 11 shots on goal through two periods. The Bruins pushed in the third (14 shots) after Ryan Strome grabbed the eventual winner just 2:07 into the frame, but could not find the equalizer.

“I thought they played well, but I thought a lot of it was us,” said Riley Nash. “I don’t think we were quite ready to go. It seemed like every time we got in their zone it was kind of one-and-done for the night. I think we can look within ourselves for that, I just don’t think we were hard enough on pucks…on nights like that you just got to find a way to get it done.”

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the Bruins’ loss was their inability to provide support for Tuukka Rask. Boston’s ace netminder returned after serving as the back-up during Anton Khudobin’s torrid four-game winning streak and made 32 saves on 35 shots.

“Obviously he wants to win hockey games, it doesn’t matter how,” said Torey Krug. “We’ve got to do a better job of playing for him and getting that win. Tie game, third period, in our home building – a good chance to get him going again. We came out there and let him down. We’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we can come out with this win.”

Rask fell to 3-8-2 this season and has now lost four straight starts, during which the Bruins have managed to score just seven goals.

“When they start to pile up and nothing seems to go your way, it’s frustrating,” said Rask. “Obviously right now it’s frustrating, but tomorrow is a new day, go back to work and start building something new. That’s all you really can control. Your work ethic and attitude, and how you show up to work. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Despite nearly a two-week layoff from game action, Rask said he felt strong between the pipes. Edmonton’s 10 first-period shots allowed the 30-year-old to get a feel early on.

“I felt good. I got right into the game,” said Rask. “That was the difference from the past. There were a lot of shots early on. I got right into the game and after that, same film I’ve seen before….tough bounce.”

After David Pastrnak extended his points streak to three games with a power-play tally late in the first, Edmonton took a 2-1 lead on goals from Patrick Maroon and Adam Larsson during a five-minute stretch of the second. David Krejci tied the game just 1:11 later when he finished a feed from Nash at the right post, but that was all the Bruins could muster.

“It seemed like we lacked energy in the first couple periods,” said Torey Krug. “We weren’t throwing many checks. When your legs aren’t moving you can’t hit those guys and you can’t meet the puck there, then they’re playing with more energy and they’re playing with the puck. It’s a more fun game for them.

“I think the first two periods we definitely lacked energy and the third we started doing things better, holding on to pucks and chipping it in. We can’t just go back to the mentality.”

More observations from the Bruins’ loss to the Oilers:

Power Play strikes: Boston snapped an 0-for-17 stretch on the power play when Pastrnak struck for the B’s first goal on the man advantage since Brad Marchand’s tally on Nov. 10 in Toronto.

Pastrnak took a feed from Krug, pulled off a backhand toe drag, and ripped a wrister by Cam Talbot to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 5:57 left in the first period.

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With each passing day, the Bruins are inching closer to a return to full health. But there is still some work to be done.

Brad Marchand and Torey Krug skated with the team on Tuesday, but will not travel to New Jersey and have been ruled out for the game against the Devils on Wednesday night. Ryan Spooner, meanwhile, appears close to a return from the torn adductor that has sidelined him for the last five-plus weeks.

“It was a long 5 ½ weeks,” said Spooner, who took his normal reps with the first power-play unit during Tuesday’s session. “Not sure if I’m gonna play yet, but I’m gonna go with the team, skate in the morning, and go from there. I felt good, first practice I’ve had and felt fine, so that’s good.”

Marchand started practice in his usual white sweater, but ditched it for a burgundy non-contact jersey roughly halfway through the session. Krug – who left practice early – and David Backes also donned the non-contact jerseys.

For Marchand, it was the first step in his return from an undisclosed injury that has caused him to miss the last three games.

“Good to be back out with the guys and feel like part of the team again,” said Marchand. “It’s frustrating any time you have to miss games and time away from the team. It’s disappointing. The guys had a great road trip and are playing well, so it’s fun to watch. It would be nice to be back in the lineup and be part of the team again, but it will come.”

Boston’s No. 1 left winger has missed five of the team’s last seven games. After sitting out two games with an upper-body injury, Marchand returned for the back-to-back against Toronto some 10 days ago and was nicked up again on the second night in Boston.

“I’m feeling a little better and progressing,” said Marchand. “Today was really the first day I skated high-intensity. We’ll just keep going day by day.”

Though disappointed to be out of the lineup, Marchand was impressed with the team’s play on the West Coast during his absence and had particularly high praise for Boston’s youth.

“I think the younger guys did a really good job stepping up, Jake DeBrusk had a great game [against San Jose],” said Marchand. “Throughout the lineup guys are playing with more confidence and stepping up their game. That’s what we need, guys stepping up at different times. We’re getting that.”

Grzelcyk Back Up

With Krug still out, the Bruins recalled Matt Grzelcyk from Providence. It’s the Charlestown native’s second stint with Boston this season, having played in the B’s season opener against Nashville.

The 5-foot-9, 174-pound blue liner had four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games with Providence this season and is often compared to Krug in both stature and skill set.

“Puck mover, he’s quick, he gets up the ice, supports the rush, good distributor, a lot of similarities to Torey. And naturally it’s always, ‘Well, because of their similar makeup…’ But they are similar,” said Cassidy. “Torey at this level, and even at the AHL level his first year, is a more dynamic offensive player. We’re still looking for that from Grizz. Whether it’s in him or not, time will tell. We believe it is, we’ve just got to get it out of him.”

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Anton Khudobin will make his third straight start for the Bruins when they take on the New Jersey Devils tonight here at the Prudential Center.

“Anton will be in…he’s played well,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Wednesday’s morning skate. “He deserves to start games, whether they’re all consecutively or not is a decision we’re making. We’ll see how it goes and we’ll worry about the next game on Friday.

“But right now, the guys are playing well in front of him and he looks confident and composed, playing good hockey for us.”

Khudobin remains undefeated in regulation this season (5-0-2) and has won his last two starts, grabbing wins over Los Angeles and San Jose during Boston’s West Coast swing last week. The 31-year-old also started three consecutive games in October (2-0-1) when Tuukka Rask was sidelined with a concussion.

Cassidy acknowledged that while Rask is not pleased with the current situation, he understands it.

“I’ve talked to Tuukka about it, he’s not happy, but he gets it,” said Cassidy. “We’re creating competition, while we’re getting good goaltending out of Anton. Hopefully it makes Tuukka a better goaltender down the road and makes our team better, certainly, when you’re backup is giving you quality starts.”

Rask last started in Anaheim a week ago, allowing four goals in a 4-2 setback against the Ducks.

“We’ve said it and I’m not gonna hide behind it,” said Cassidy, “a lot of what’s happened with Tuukka’s starts is we need one more save or we need to score one more goal. It’s one or the other. If we’re not gonna score then hopefully you get that one more save.

“Been a little bit of the difference with Anton. It’s a 2-1 game [against San Jose] and he keeps it out of the net. We do get the third goal, so we get both in that particular instance. Sometimes that’s what you need and it’s been what’s missing a little bit in Tuukka’s game.”

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Zdeno Chara is, reasonably and biologically, old enough to be Charlie McAvoy’s father.

“I don’t think of it like that, you know?” said McAvoy, 19, of his 40-year-old defense partner on the Boston Bruins. “He’s just a hockey player.”

That is true. For 20 seasons, Chara has been one of the NHL’s most dominating and intimidating defensemen — a 6-foot-9 man mountain who won the Norris Trophy in 2008-09 and was a finalist for the award on four other occasions. He has a pterodactyl’s wingspan and velociraptor’s comportment, with 1,800 career penalty minutes.

It’s also true that he is, you know, old enough to be Charlie McAvoy’s father.

This is a topic that makes the rookie visually uncomfortable, something he’d rather not explore. That’s because despite the age gap, they’re teammates. The years between them are just a number, no less intimidating to McAvoy than Chara’s career games played (1,369) or the odds that the Bruins captain will make the Hockey Hall of Fame one day, which are quite good.

“A lot of those guys [in the room] are superstars, and you look up to a lot of those guys,” said McAvoy, “but I think everyone’s on the same keel here.”

Young NHL stars such as McAvoy — who has 10 points in 19 games, and is skating an NHL rookie-leading 23:16 minutes per game — need to get over being star-struck. It’s something every player who is a student to a veteran teacher has to work through. Even ones who are destined for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“When I came in, Brad Park was that guy for me. Really took me under his wing, taught the game a lot,” said former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque, who was inducted into the Hall in 2004. “The kid who gets over that fast is in a better position to succeed.”

A humble student is vital in this mentorship dynamic. But so is a great teacher, and few are better in this role than Zdeno Chara.

After being paired with veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for a good portion of his stellar career in Boston, Chara has since partnered with the freshest faces on the Bruins blue line. He’s a defensive rock, allowing these young defensemen to grow beside him like flowers blossoming through a mountainside.

When the Boston captain was 36, he was paired with 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton, who is currently playing a top-four defensive role with the Calgary Flames.

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Bruce Cassidy had one specific thing in mind when he jettisoned Jake DeBrusk to the press box last weekend against Toronto at TD Garden.

Boston’s bench boss believed the rookie’s skating game was lagging and needed a jolt. So Cassidy made the 21-year-old a healthy scratch against the Leafs and asked him to watch the game from a different perspective.

DeBrusk returned to the lineup in the opener of the Bruins’ three-game West Coast swing and notched an assist against the Ducks, doing it all with a bit of extra pep in his step. Cassidy was pleased with the youngster’s response to a difficult situation and entrusted him yet again with more ice time.

Cassidy’s trust paid off even further on Saturday night as DeBrusk put forth, perhaps, the best game of his short career. The Alberta native turned on the jets and notched a goal and an assist to help pace the Bruins to a crucial 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center.

The win – which also included 36 saves from Anton Khudobin – clinched Boston’s first back-to-back wins of the year and secured a 2-1 road trip through the Golden State, sending the Black & Gold back to the Hub feeling much better about the state of their season.

“He’s got pride and character,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We talked about these young kids coming in here and how he grew last year as a player in Providence. That was part of it with Jake. He wanted his opportunity and didn’t get it last year. He’s gotten it this year. He took a step back, but now he’s taken another one forward.”

DeBrusk, whose first-period tally proved to be the difference, was not the only youngster to come through for Boston. During what turned into a banner night for the B’s young talent, rookies accounted for all three of Boston’s goals.

Peter Cehlarik got the Bruins on the board in the first period with his first career goal, while Danton Heinen added some insurance with a tally late in the third when he capitalized off a Bobby Orr-like rush and feed from Kevan Miller. Fellow rooks Charlie McAvoy and Sean Kuraly also added helpers on DeBrusk’s marker.

“We talked about it in July and August that some of these kids were going to be given an opportunity and you’d never know which ones are gonna step up,” said Cassidy. “It was [Anders] Bjork for a while, he’s injured. Cehlarik comes in and gets his first goal – he’s playing in key situations. Jake has really bounced back from a little banishment up top.

“Charlie, you see it on a nightly basis. Kuraly doesn’t get talked about much, does a good job for us. He’s out there against [Joe] Thornton sometimes in their end, he’s out there against [Logan] Couture. These are world-class players. Good for them.

“We need it, especially being absent some of the guys we rely on… a lot of positives. You hope it pays off in the long run.”

DeBrusk displayed his patented speed on each of the B’s first two goals. On Boston’s first tally early in the opening period, he and Cehlarik played catch through the neutral zone before DeBrusk dashed to the net, dangled through the mighty Brent Burns, and flipped a shot on Sharks goalie Aaron Dell.

Dell made the initial stop as DeBrusk tumbled into him after being tripped by Joakim Ryan, but Cehlarik was there for the follow and punched home the rebound for the first goal of his career to tie the game, 1-1, just 1:27 after San Jose had opened the scoring.

“I personally saw it all last year in Providence, these guys that are playing with us now, including myself,” said DeBrusk, who was a plus-2 and landed four shots on goal in nearly 16 minutes of ice time. “It’s always nice to see. We want it so bad and we’re trying to work as hard as we can to help this team in any way. That’s the biggest way you can help. Good for Danton and awesome for Peter to get his first.”

It was, however, nearly a case of déjà vu for Cehlarik when San Jose challenged the tally for goalie interference. During Boston’s California trip last February, Cehlarik had his first career goal wiped off the board following a review in Los Angeles.

But there was no need to worry this time around, as it was determined that DeBrusk was tripped into the Sharks netminder.

“Last year, having that one called off… hopefully that gets me going now and I can stick around for more,” said Cehlarik. “Every night someone is gonna step up. We’re missing a lot of players so it’s on us [young players] to step up.”

DeBrusk was at it again on the Bruins second goal. With a San Jose power play expiring, McAvoy flipped the puck off the glass with the intent of sending it 200 feet down the ice. But the puck ricocheted off a stanchion and popped out to the neutral zone. DeBrusk chased it down and picked up the puck deep in the San Jose end for a breakaway.

Some indecision from Dell as to whether or not to play the puck left DeBrusk unimpeded and the winger took advantage, firing a shot far side to put the Bruins ahead for good at 10:46 of the first.

“Those were the legs. He tracked down a puck and buried it, split the D with a nice individual move,” said Cassidy. “He’s feeling it a little bit again. That’s the way young guys are. He lost it a bit…it’s up to the staff to make him feel good about his game. But it’s an individual as well. This is the National Hockey League. You’ve got to come ready to play. He seemed to figure out the mental part of it lately.”
A trip to the press box can do that for a player. DeBrusk’s play in the three games since his night on the ninth floor is proof of that.

“It’s hard for it not to be a wake-up call in a sense,” said DeBrusk. “It’s never good being healthy scratched. I take that personally and I wanted to react the way I have reacted in the last couple games. The results have been there…I guess you could call it a wake-up call and it’s been working.”

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Jake DeBrusk was not interested in sugarcoating his situation. To him, a trip to TD Garden’s ninth floor for Saturday night’s contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs was nothing to pleased about.

“You can take it however you want to take it. I believe it’s a negative thing, it’s never good when you’re not helping the team,” DeBrusk said of the first healthy scratch of his young career. “There’s certain reasons why it happened and that’s where you take a positive approach on changing those things so that it doesn’t happen again.

“Taking it day-by-day getting better, but there are some things I learned for sure.”

Watching the game from above provided DeBrusk with a different perspective on the game and allowed him to take a step back from what has been a challenging stretch for the 21-year-old rookie, who has just one goal over his last 11 games.

“It’s not one big thing,” said DeBrusk. “I think I need to calm down and just play hockey, just do what I was doing at the beginning of training camp, being one of the fastest guys, buzzing around out there, being a hound on the forecheck, simple things like that [and] stop thinking so much.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is confident in the winger’s ability to bounce back and confirmed that he’ll be back in the lineup on Wednesday night against the Ducks. Boston’s bench boss would like to see more energy in DeBrusk’s skating game, an area he believes has been lacking of late.

“The message was, ‘Hey, watch from up top, there are certain areas of your game that need to be better, certain areas of your game that we like that you have to bring every night.’ We talked about that,” said Cassidy. “His energy is his legs…when he’s skating, the rest kind of falls into place. That’s what we’re looking for.”

In addition to watching from up top, DeBrusk took time to scour film and pick through the different areas of his game. Now, it’s up to him to apply what he absorbed and avoid another trip to the Garden’s ninth floor.

“It shows your character what you do after that. It’s just another test for me,” said DeBrusk, who will start on the right wing alongside Matt Beleskey and Riley Nash against Anaheim. “It’s one of those things when you’re watching players and seeing what makes them successful out there…it’s pretty evident that you need to change quick.

“You don’t want to be healthy scratch…at the same time there’s a lot of things you can learn up there and you learn about yourself up there.”

Krejci Out

David Krejci will not play against the Ducks on Wednesday night, but Cassidy termed the pivot as “probable” to make his return to the lineup on Thursday in Los Angeles.

“Doing much better, looks like [Thursday] will be a good target date for him,” said Cassidy. “He’ll be a game-time decision…for the immediate short term Krech would be the only [injured player] probable for tomorrow.”

Acciari Arrives

Noel Acciari rejoined the team after spending two days in Michigan for the services of one of his best friends and former Providence College teammate, Drew Brown, who passed away over the weekend after a lengthy battle with cancer.

“He was a tough kid, touched a lot of people with his smile. Never complained,” said Acciari. “He will be missed. It’s tough for me and it’s tough for his family right now, but they’re a tough group…he’s in a better place and he’s looking down on us.”

Ducks Banged Up

The Bruins are not alone in their injury woes, as the Ducks may be only team in the league with more players on the shelf. Anaheim (7-7-3) is without Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Cam Fowler, Jared Boll, Patrick Eaves, Ondrej Kase, and goalie Ryan Miller. And on Wednesday morning, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle termed defenseman Hampus Lindholm as a game-time decision.

“A lot of new faces. When they pre-scout, probably like us, they’re probably getting to the Hockey DB [reference website],” joked Cassidy. “But they still play strong defensively. They’re gonna try to protect the front of the net….they’re gonna be hard to play against.”

1,000 Games for Vermette

Ducks center Antoine Vermette is slated to play his 1,000th career game Wednesday night. The 35-year-old pivot has also suited up for Ottawa, Columbus, Arizona, and Chicago over his 14-year career.

Fellow Quebec native Patrice Bergeron has formed a friendship with Vermette over the years and often trains with him during the offseason.

“It’s definitely a big milestone for him,” said Bergeron. “I’m happy. It’s good timing that we’re playing each other for that game.”

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David Krejci took another step in his recovery from an upper-body injury on Tuesday as he shed the red non-contact jersey he donned during Monday’s practice back in Boston.

The veteran pivot took the ice at Honda Center on Tuesday afternoon in a standard white sweater and split reps with Jordan Szwarz between Frank Vatrano and Danton Heinen.

Krejci, who has missed Boston’s last 10 games, is hopeful to return to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Ducks, terming himself a game-time decision.

“Hopefully gonna have a good rest of the day, good morning skate,” said Krejci. “As a player you want to play, but you have to be safe with your health. [Wednesday's] going to be a big day. Morning skate, talk to the doctors and go from there.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said he does not have any hesitations with playing Krejci in both games of this week’s back-to-back in Anaheim and Los Angeles. If Krejci is cleared to play and feeling good, there will not be any limitations.

“I don’t think that’s our thought process,” said Cassidy. “If he’s good to go [against Anaheim] he’s in, if he’s good to go Thursday he’d be in. Just waiting on them, the individual and the training staff.”

Bjork, Marchand Ruled Out

Cassidy ruled both Anders Bjork and Brad Marchand out for the next two games. He said the status of both players would be re-evaluted on Friday.

Both were injured during Saturday night’s game against Toronto.

Agostino, Cehlarik Recalled

With the injuries to Bjork and Marchand, Peter Cehlarik and Kenny Agostino were recalled from Providence on an emergency basis on Monday. Agostino skated on the right wing with Tim Schaller and Riley Nash during Tuesday’s practice, while Cehlarik was on the left side with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

“We’ve looked at a lot of different options up there…we’re not afraid to put a young player up there,” Cassidy said of Cehlarik. “He did play with Krech and Pasta last year. He’s used to playing with good skill and will complement them in terms of his ability to protect pucks and get to the net. Could be a good fit.”

Cehlarik was also manning the front of the net on Boston’s No. 1 power-play unit during the session.

“He recovers pucks well, so net-front power play is a good spot for him,” said Cassidy. “I know they’ve used him in the bumper before as well. He’s a big body in front, he’s got quick hands. He gives you some of what Marchy does in terms of being able to recover a puck and put it in a good spot to make a play with it.”

Cehlarik had been battling a lower-body injury in Providence, but returned last weekend. The 22-year-old Slovakia native has three goals and three assists in six games with the P-Bruins this season.

“You always want to be the first guy they bring up,” said Cehlarik. “I was playing my game there. I was out for a little while with an injury, came back last weekend. Kind of surprised, but up here now and trying to adjust quickly and be ready for tomorrow.”

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For the first 59 minutes of the game, it seemed the Bruins had finally put together a complete road victory against a formidable opponent. Leading 2-1 thanks to tallies by familiar goal-scorers Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, the Bruins looked to close out the game and earn a much-needed two points. But with the goalie pulled in the final 60 seconds of regulation, James Van Riemsdyk and the Toronto Maple Leafs snatched a point from their Atlantic Division rivals, and Patrick Marleau added the finishing blow a minute into three-on-three overtime – leaving Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and the rest of the B’s scratching their heads as to how they let one get away in a 3-2 overtime setback at Air Canada Centre.

“With a minute left, it’s one of those where you kind of let it slip by,” lamented Bergeron. “It’s tough, we have to learn from that… We have to take the good out of it but also realize we have to close games like that.”

“We played good, but a few mistakes just cost us the game,” added Marchand, who played 23 minutes in his first game back from an upper-body injury. “You can’t be giving away points like this.”

After a scoreless back-and-forth affair through the first half of the game, Bergeron opened the scoring 15 minutes into the second period with a one-time snipe from Marchand that beat Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, who was frozen in his crease. It was a familiar connection for No. 63 and No. 37, who looked as comfortable as ever playing together in all situations of the game – as each racked up more than 22 minutes of ice time. But after Riley Nash was called for a slashing penalty in the final minute of the period, the Leafs capitalized on the man advantage, as Van Riemsdyk banged home a rebound from Morgan Reilly’s point shot to tie the game at one goal apiece.

Pastrnak put the Bruins ahead once again 14 minutes into the third period, as the team’s third power play of the game was about to expire. Torey Krug sent the puck in behind the Leafs defense, where Anders Bjork retrieved it and centered it to the front of the net, where Jordan Szwarz had two point-blank whacks at it, only to be denied by Andersen both times. But the second rebound came right out to Pastrnak, who finished it off and threw both hands in the air in celebration.

But the good feelings were short-lived for the Black & Gold. The desperate Leafs pulled Andersen and put six skaters on the attack in the final couple minutes, hemming the Bruins in their own zone. After a few failed clearing attempts, Mitch Marner’s pass found the stick of Van Riemsdyk, who was camped out alone in front of Khudobin and easily deflected it past the B’s netminder to tie the game.

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The Bruins had an off day Thursday after arriving in Toronto at 3 a.m. ET ahead of their Friday night showdown with the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy spoke to reporters at the team hotel, and he gave updates on Brad Marchand, Noel Acciari, the weekend goaltending plan and more.

Marchand/Acciari Game-Time Decisions

Cassidy said that both Brad Marchand and Noel Acciari will be game-time decisions for Friday’s game in Toronto.

“I’m not going to rule [Marchand] in or out right now, because like I said he’s going through what he needs to do. There is a chance [he plays tomorrow].”

“Noel will be a game-time decision. And he gives us a physicality, straight-line, can change the momentum of the game on the forecheck with some big hits. Be nice to have that element back in the game. I think he was rounding into his offensive game, that’s going to be a little more difficult I think after missing time.”

The physicality that Acciari provides is certainly something that doesn’t go unnoticed by opposing teams either, with one Boston reporter informing Cassidy that at least three Rangers brought up the absence of Acciari prior to Wednesday’s game.

“Well they know when he’s on the ice. A guy that hits and hits clean, people are aware of it. Guys that hit dirty, people are aware of it too, but they are talking about it probably in a different [way]. There’s respect for Noel’s game. I believe he’s earned that. I’m not privy to the conversations you’re talking about, but I assume they are talking about a good hard-nosed clean hockey player that brings that element every night and they need to be aware of it when they are on the ice.”

Goaltender Split

Cassidy said that the team is leaning towards starting Anton Khudobin in net Friday night, with Tuukka Rask returning in between the pipes Saturday in Boston.

“We’re leaning towards Anton [Khudobin] tomorrow to give Tuukka [Rask] the extra day, but we’ll make that decision tomorrow morning. But it will be a split. Anton is ready to go; he backed up last night. He’ll have another morning skate to make sure he’s up to snuff and then we’ll decide.”

College Hockey

During his wide-ranging media availability, Cassidy touched on the recent growth of U.S. college hockey. Charlie McAvoy (Boston University), Anders Bjork (Notre Dame), Danton Heinen (Denver University), Frank Vatrano (UMass), Noel Acciari (Providence College) and Sean Kuraly (Miami) are among the Bruins’ young players who chose the college route.

“I think in general, there’s more American kids playing the game, so I think that has a lot to do with it. They are going to naturally gravitate towards going towards college as opposed to going the junior route. I think Canadian kids are now are going the college route more and more because of the level of play, and they want to get drafted. They want to be NHL players. What’s the quickest route? Well who is getting drafted from which leagues? Now there is a better balance in that. And it’s actually probably – I don’t have the numbers in front of me – tilting probably closer to college.”

Cassidy himself said he thought about going to Colgate University as a 17-year-old, but decided to go another route – a decision he sometimes regrets.

“I was a good student, I was ready to go. I turned 17, I went to actually visit Colgate, so it crossed my mind. I was drafted to my hometown team fairly high, so I went that route. It worked out. We won a Memorial Cup. I have regrets sometimes that I didn’t get my education. You can still do it in the summers, peck away at it, but it’s not quite the same.”

Hockey Hall Of Fame

Cassidy said he visited the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto last year and has plans to visit again on the team’s off day.

“I went last year when I was year, and I went probably 15 years a go. For me, I’m sure you guys know, I’m a hockey nut. I’m a junkie, so I love that stuff. I think it’s terrific, nice to be around it.”

His favorite part of the museum was seeing a familiar mask while waiting in line.

“When I walked in I was waiting in line, there was a mask of [Bruins goaltending coach] Bob Essensa right there and I couldn’t believe it. There it was, right there. And I was like, wow, Bob, I have to tell him that. And then the next one below was Darren Pang, who is one of my best friends in hockey. So I was like, wow, I didn’t know I was around such royalty. It was awesome.”