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Austin Czarnik is used to top-line duties. The 25-year-old leads Providence with 42 points in 38 games this season and anchors the P-Bruins’ lead trio.

But when Czarnik was recalled to Boston for Saturday night’s showdown with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he knew he would have to make an impact in a different way. Playing instead in a fourth-line role, Czarnik was tasked with creating energy and momentum each time he hit the ice.

The Detroit native delivered, forming a solid unit with Frank Vatrano and Sean Kuraly. Czarnik did not land a shot on goal in just over nine minutes of ice time, but did pick up an assist on Torey Krug’s power-play tally.

“I think he was good. Lots of energy, on the puck, made a play on the power play, which we’re used to seeing him make. So, I thought that whole line did their job pretty well,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “No complaints…and that’s what we need.”

While playing in a slightly different role, Czarnik felt comfortable alongside Kuraly, his former teammate at Miami (Ohio), and Vatrano, his former linemate in Providence. While with the P-Bruins, Czarnik and Vatrano were a lethal combination that combined for 56 goals during the 2015-16 campaign.

“I played with Sean in college for three years and Frank in Providence and a little bit here so I know what type of players they are and what they like to do,” said Czarnik, who will be back in the lineup on Tuesday night in his hometown against the Red Wings. “I think we are just one step off from getting a lot of chances, but it was a good game for us…it was exciting, just create energy out there was my goal and our line did a good job of forcing a lot of turnovers.”

Czarnik was placed on Boston’s second power-play unit against the Maple Leafs, which proved to be a sound decision when he delivered a feed to Krug, who ripped home a one-timer to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead in the second period.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming into [Saturday night], so it was nice to get that [opportunity] – and we scored on one of them, so it was perfect,” said Czarnik, who has two assists in seven games with Boston this season.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound forward’s previous two stints with the big club this season came prior to the team’s 25-4-4 run. This time around, he said, there is a noticeably different feel within the group.

“We were struggling there a bit more then,” said Czarnik. “But now the team is playing together and they are doing everything they need to do every night. So, it’s a fun time to be a part of it.”

Opposing View

The Bruins will be making their second visit to Detroit on Tuesday night. Boston’s first trip to Little Caesars Arena resulted in a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory, during which Brad Marchand notched the winner in the extra session.

Detroit has posted a 4-5-1 record over its last 10 games and is currently 7 points out of the East’s second wild-card spot. The Rangers, who the Bruins will visit on Wednesday, have dropped two straight and have just three wins in their last 10.

As a result, Boston is expecting two teams with an added level of urgency.

“I think we’ve tried to always worry about ourselves first. I think we understand that the majority of the teams that we’re gonna be playing are in a little bit more of a fight than we are,” said Cassidy. “We all want our points…they are a little more desperate than we are – we have to be cognizant of that, but at the same time play our game.

“There’s too many games to get caught up every night in what the other team is doing. We always address what they do well, where we can attack them and go from there and try not to worry about the standings too much, to be perfectly honest. There’s no easy games in this league.”

Marchand’s Return Near

Brad Marchand will be back in the lineup on this trip, with the winger serving the final game of his five-game suspension for elbowing on Tuesday in Detroit. Boston’s leading scorer will be eligible to return on Wednesday against the Rangers.

“Time goes by slow when you’re out, but it’s been a lot of fun to watch the guys play the way they have,” said Marchand, whose teammates have posted a 3-1-0 record in his absence. “They’re playing very well. Looking forward to getting back. It’s fun to watch, but it’s not fun to be out. It just shows how good of a team we have. But you hate to miss time and be out. It will be great to be back be in the room.”

Noel Acciari (lower-body), Anders Bjork (upper-body), and Kevan Miller (upper-body) all missed practice. Bjork will not travel with the team on the road trip, while Miller and Acciari “are unlikely to travel [with the team] but could join us,” according to Cassidy.

Acciari, who has missed the last four games, has been skating on his own. Miller and Bjork have not yet resumed any on-ice activities.

Split Duties

Cassidy said that Tuukka Rask would be in net on Tuesday night in Detroit, while Anton Khudobin is expected to get the call on Wednesday in New York.

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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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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.”

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Torey Krug admits that the first few weeks of the 2017-18 season have been a grind. The blue liner’s start was halted after suffering a broken jaw in the Bruins second preseason game, a set back that was at times more of a mental hurdle than a physical one.

“Physically, I missed training camp, a lot of exhibition games,” said Krug. “On the mental side of things, you get pretty frustrated because you know how well you can play, but you’re just not playing up to your potential and the stars aren’t lining up for you. It’s a grind both mentally and physically.”

After missing the season opener against Nashville, Krug returned to the lineup but struggled to find consistent footing over the season’s first few weeks. But after the last two games, Krug appears ready to bust out offensively. Krug notched his second goal of the season against Columbus on Monday, before tallying two assists in Boston’s 2-1 win over Vegas on Thursday.

“His game has been coming around anyway,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following the game. “For the most part it’s been solid… he’s been managing the puck well, making his plays, starting to feel like Torey again. [Thursday night] was good.

“We need his offense, especially now since we’re a little bit depleted. So if he can add some secondary scoring like he generally does then we will be that much better.”

Krug, who was a plus-2 in over 18 minutes of ice time against Vegas, believes his two-point performance can act as a catalyst.

“That’s the hope,” said Krug. “I just want to feel good out there. Breaking pucks out, feel comfortable with my game. Those little streaks, they’ll come when you feel good about your game.”

The 26-year-old’s strong night coincided with the removal of the face mask he had been wearing on his helmet since the jaw injury. Krug, who did not believe the extra protection obstructed him, did admit that his peripheral vision and overall comfort level was improved.

“I think it hinders a person – especially a guy that plays a finesse game,” said Cassidy. “You’re not used to having that on there. It’s a reminder that you’re protecting an injury. There’s enough going on the ice that you don’t need those reminders.

“Probably, in the back of his mind [he said], ‘OK, I’m healed, I’m even more prepared to play.’”

Backes Has Surgery

The Bruins announced late Thursday night that David Backes “underwent surgery to remove a portion of his colon. The operation went smoothly and he has started his recovery.”

Backes is expected to miss approximately eight weeks while he recovers from the procedure that is in relation to his bout with diverticulitis.

Beleskey, Czarnik Return

Matt Beleskey and Austin Czarnik (recalled from Providence on an emergency basis) were both slotted back into the lineup on Thursday night and performed well. Both players were on the ice for Riley Nash’s second-period tally that opened the scoring, with Czarnik grabbing the primary assist.

The both finished with a plus-1 in around 10 minutes of ice time.

“They did their part. They’re a plus one; their line got a goal,” said Cassidy. “That’s what we talked about, you know, pitching in. Saturday if they’re together, they might not get the goal but if they can give us solid minutes, manage pucks, create some energy for us, get the momentum back in our favor, defend when they have to.

“They stayed out of trouble for the most part I think in their own ends. Those are the contributions you need from guys that aren’t in your lineup every night that are trying to get in your lineup every night.”

The trio of Beleskey, Czarnik, and Nash – which was together at various last season – did not begin the night together, but a switch of Nash and Sean Kuraly paid dividends for the Bruins, as Nash scored on the line’s first shift together.

“Last year we had two games together, I think and we did a really good job together…I was like, ‘All right let’s go get one,’” said Czarnik. “That first shift we really popped one, so it’s a good feeling for us. I think we all jell together pretty well and we just know where each other are so hopefully we can keep that going together.”

Maintenance for Marchand

Brad Marchand did not practice on Friday, but Cassidy did not seem to be too concerned with the winger’s absence, which the coach termed a maintenance day.

“Maintenance day, lower body, he just needed a little rest,” said Cassidy. ” I truly believe this is nothing serious…it’s just a precation. He plays a lot of minutes so we gave him the day.”

David Krejci missed practice once again as he battles an upper-body injury. Cassidy ruled him out for Saturday’s game with Washington.

“Nothing new to report, he didn’t skate today, he’ll be ruled out tomorrow,” said Krejci. “Monday we’ll have a better update.”

Anton Khudobin (lower body) also missed practice and has not begun skating. Tuukka Rask will start on Saturday night against Washington.

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With David Backes out of the lineup, the Bruins are missing some abrasiveness, as head coach Bruce Cassidy termed it on Thursday morning.

The absence of that grit, strength, and power has thus opened up an opportunity for another Bruins winger. Matt Beleskey, who has been a healthy scratch for the last three games, will return on Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights as he tries to reestablish his spot in Boston’s lineup.

“He’s worked hard. He’s been in and out. He’s gonna get an opportunity to get back in and we’ll see where his minutes go,” said Cassidy. “We’d like to have a guy that can fill some of that [Backes] role. What does that mean, a big body?

“Well, it means applying pressure on your defense, knowing that if they’re gonna come out of their zone they’re gonna have to go through bodies. It means in the defensive zone getting in and clogging up lanes, winning your board battles and being a little bit abrasive so that they know someone is breathing down their neck.”

When Beleskey has been in the lineup this season – he’s played in six games without a point – he’s been slotted in mostly a bottom-six role, where creating energy and providing some grit is expected.

“He does have size, especially with Backes out now he can add a dimensions of abrasiveness that we miss when he goes out,” said Cassidy. “I think he’s in a good frame of mind for the most part.”

Beleskey concurred. The winger said that during his time out of the lineup he has focused on keeping the mental part of his game in check.

“You’ve just got to play your game and play it hard. Play with confidence,” said Beleskey, who skated alongside Sean Kuraly and Frank Vatrano during Wednesday’s practice. “That’s the hard part of being in and out of the lineup is not getting much ice, keeping your confidence up.

“You’ve got to be mentally strong and I think I’ve done a decent job of that so far. Tonight, just gotta go out there, play with that confidence and play hard.”

Welcoming Vegas

The Bruins are welcoming the Golden Knights to Boston Thursday night for the teams’ inaugural matchup at TD Garden. Vegas, which has lost two straight games, took the first matchup between the teams, 3-1, on Oct. 15 at T-Mobile Arena.

“They’re a tough team to play against…a big, fast team,” said Torey Krug. “I think that’s the mentality they’re trying to have every night. They go out there with a group of guys that’s tough to play against. We gotta make sure that we have a big pushback, especially early in this game and push them back on their heels and hopefully use our home-ice advantage.”

Szwarz In; Czarnik Recalled

Jordan Szwarz, recalled from Providence on an emergency basis on Wednesday, will be in the lineup, according to Cassidy. He was the center between Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork during Wednesday’s practice.

Austin Czarnik was also recalled from Providence on an emergency basis on Thursday after Backes was placed on injured reserve (colon surgery). Czarnik was termed as a game-time decision by Cassidy.

Czarnik leads Providence with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in five games this season.

Krug Sheds Shield

Krug took part in Thursday’s optional morning skate without the chin guard that he has donned since returning from a broken jaw in the season’s second game. The blue liner said he did not believe the apparatus hindered his game in any way, but would see after Thursday’s contest if he noticed any differences.

“I don’t know. Once I get into some battles tonight I’ll have a better answer for you,” said Krug. “I didn’t think anything in particular when I had it on was an issue. That might change tonight once I get in a few shifts, a few battle in the corners and seeing pucks in my feet, things like that. We’ll see what feels different.”

Pastrnak Jumps Up

With injuries ravaging the Bruins lineup, David Pastrnak has been reunited with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on Boston’s top line. For much of last season, the trio was one of the league’s best combinations and will be relied upon now to take on a heavy load of the Bruins’ offense.

“For me it doesn’t matter who I play with, I’m trying to do my best and trying to always get the offensive stuff going,” said Pastrnak. “Every time I come to that line, we don’t talk about anything, just to get the job done. That’s all we talk about, the three of us.

“We never say, ‘Let’s go score goals.’ Just about getting the job done. That’s all we’re focusing on.”

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David Backes did not have the most pleasant view of Opening Night. Instead of skating around the ice at TD Garden, he was staring at the building from the window of his hospital room.

The standard definition television he was forced to watch the Bruins battle the Predators on didn’t help.

“That’s a tough emotional swing to swallow,” said Backes, who was sidelined by a bout of diverticulitis a few days before the opener.

“Watching at home is never easy when you’ve worked all summer and feel like you’ve kind of changed yourself a little bit to have a lot of success this season, and then have that false start to begin with, it’s tough to deal with mentally.”

Backes missed the first five games as he recovered from the illness, but returned to the ice on Tuesday morning for practice at Warrior Ice Arena and is hoping to be back in the lineup on Thursday against Vancouver.

“I think coming back and having the extra energy today…the past is the past, and we have to look at what the next step is to try to be the best player I can be to help us win games, and that’s what the focus is,” said Backes.

“Progress certainly. Return, we’ll see. And long-term prognosis, we’ll have to discuss with the really smart [medical] guys.”

With the team on the road for nearly a week, Backes, who was unable to partake in any physical activity for six or seven days, worked with the team’s medical staff and skating coach to get back into shape.

“Being able to skate with the guys, I was like a kid at the candy store before practice,” said Backes, who lost nearly 10 pounds through the ordeal. “For me personally, felt good out there. It’s nice to be back on the ice and smiling most of the day, just knowing that hopefully I’ll be playing ice hockey in the future”

Backes, who still is not quite sure what spurred the illness, sought advice from former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light, who battled Crohn’s disease, another intestinal problem, later in his career.

“Got his insight on professional athletes and dealing with these kinds of issues,” said Backes. “Trying to information gather and being as smart as I can so that I can be available as often as possible and be as productive as possible when I am available.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said Backes is a possibility to return to the lineup this week.

“He skated a little when we were away…we’ll consult with the medical staff going forward, his plan,” said Cassidy. “Potentially [will] be an option Thursday. That should sort itself out over the next few days.”

Bergeron Better

Patrice Bergeron rejoined the group for practice, as well, albeit in a red non-contact sweater. Bergeron participated for most of the session before leaving ahead of some three-on-three work at the end of practice.

“Feel like everything is getting better now, feeling stronger on the ice and more comfortable. Hopefully game action is closer rather than later,” said Bergeron.

“It’s a lot more fun to be with the guys than watching and sitting around and go out on my own. Today was one of those where I wanted to see where I was at.”

Like Backes, Bergeron is a possibility to return to the lineup on Thursday night.

“Bergy did a little more today, that was by schedule,” said Cassidy. “He wasn’t going to do the full practice, so progressing well. Again, Thursday’s a possibility for him.”

McQuaid, Spooner Miss

Adam McQuaid and Ryan Spooner, both of whom left Sunday’s game in Vegas with injuries, did not skate on Tuesday.

“Nothing yet,” Cassidy said when asked for an update. “They’re getting looked at this afternoon, should know more in the morning whether they’ll be joining us for practice.”

Heinen Heads Down

After being one the last cuts of training camp, Danton Heinen arrived in Providence hoping to seize the soonest opportunity to prove himself. That opportunity came early, as after just one game in Providence, the 6-foot-1 forward was called up to the NHL.

Heinen wasted no time making his mark, recording his first NHL point in his first NHL game of the season with an assist against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 11. Heinen followed that up with a two-assist effort against the Arizona Coyotes in a 6-2 victory, where he showed good chemistry playing alongside Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly. Heinen averaged 13:56 minutes per game over his 3-game stint, and his 3 assists is tied for second on the Bruins.

But with Bergeron and Backes nearing returns, Heinen was sent to Providence on Tuesday.

“He did play well, he did what was asked of him, did his job,” said Cassidy. “Part of that is we feel guys are getting closer, so we’ll see. If they’re not ready by Thursday, then we may see Danton again. That’s a decision we’ll have to make as we get closer to Thursday.”

Fellow forward Austin Czarnik was also assigned to the P-Bruins on Tuesday. Czarnik has appeared in two games with Boston this season.

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Anders Bjork is on the board.

After watching fellow rookies Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy get their first career goals out of the way during the season opener, Bjork finally tallied his on Saturday night in Arizona.

The winger took a slick cross-ice, slap-pass from DeBrusk and fired home a one-timer on the power play with just 1:24 remaining in the Bruins 6-2 win over the Coyotes.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Bjork. “It’s nice that we got some opportunity on the power play there and created some chances. It was a great play by Jake to give me the puck backdoor and I had the whole net open, so was fortunate to be in the right spot there. A pretty good feeling.”

Bjork, who notched his first career point with an assist on Opening Night, is hoping that getting the milestone out of the way can clear the way to playing a simpler game.

“Especially after a few games, you start thinking about it too much,” said Bjork. “So it’s really nice to get it out of the way and just focus on playing hockey and playing the right way.”

There was hardly a Tim Schaller shift on Saturday night during which he went unnoticed. Each time Schaller hit the ice, he was around the puck and seemed to come close to finding the back of the net.

His furious effort was rewarded with just over three minutes to go in the third period when he banged one home for his second goal in as many games. The tally, assisted by his linemates Danton Heinen and Sean Kuraly, came just 23 seconds after Arizona cut the Bruins lead to 4-2 and capped a strong night for Boston’s fourth line.

Schaller finished with four shots on goal and seven shot attempts in just over 15 minutes of ice time.

“It’s what we’re looking for,” said Cassidy. “We feel it’s good for us if we can have a glue line, especially when we’re missing players that we’re trying to replace. This is an opportunity for some players and they took advantage of it tonight.

“Good for them because they’re gonna get quality minutes if they can do that every night.”

Heinen, meanwhile, went on to assist on Bjork’s goal just under two minutes later and finished the night with a game-high five shots on goal in 15 minutes, 41 seconds of ice time. It was his first career multi-point game.

Dobby Gets The Dub

Anton Khudobin made his first start of the season and stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced. Tuukka Rask is expected back between the pipes on Sunday in Vegas.

“He’s done his job,” said Cassidy. “And that’s what we want – give us a chance to win. He got some run support tonight…he battled and good for him. We needed it.”

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Despite a late comeback bid, the Bruins dropped their second straight game to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, falling, 6-3, at Pepsi Center.

Boston allowed three second-period goals to fall into a 4-1 hole, before surging back with two goals within a 1:27 span midway through the third to get within one. Strikes from Tim Schaller and Torey Krug and some dazzling stops from Anton Khudobin – who subbed in for Tuukka Rask during the final frame – gave the Bruins some hope, but two empty-netters for the Avs sealed a home-and-home sweep for Colorado.

“It wasn’t good enough. They were better than us again, second time in three days. We’ve got some work to do,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “I’m not in the excuse making business. It’s a National Hockey League game and two points are two points every night. We’ve just got to be more intelligent and more focused with those decisions, whether it’s rust or not we’ve got to correct that.”

Too Little, Too Late

Down three goals past the midway point of the third, the Bruins got a jolt from their fourth line, with Tim Schaller, Sean Kuraly, and Danton Heinen going to work deep in the offensive zone.

Heinen, playing in his first game of the season after being recalled from Providence on Tuesday, took the puck to the left post and jammed one at Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. Schaller crashed the net and poked home the rebound for his first goal of the season.

Heinen was credited with an assist, giving him his first career National Hockey League point.

“Kuraly’s line got us going,” said Krug. “They’re not a flashy line, but they know what their job is and they go straight north-south game and get it behind them and go to work. It was a greasy goal and got us back in it. Got the guys excited on the bench again.”

Krug followed up just 1:27 later with his first of the season in a similar fashion. With Boston on the power play and Brad Marchand and Riley Nash battling away in front, Krug swatted at a loose puck and banged it home to bring the Bruins within a goal with 7:03 to play.

“At the end of the day, you see in the third period when we’re willing to put in the work it pays off, we were able to climb back in the game and give ourselves a chance,” said Krug. “You can try to use as many excuses as you want, but we’ve got to be more committed to battles and I’m a part of that as well.”

Second Period Struggles

The Bruins did not start well, as they landed just nine shots on goal through two periods. But a goal from Marchand with just under three minutes to play in the first tied the game, 1-1, and had Boston in a better frame of mind heading to the middle period.

The momentum, however, did not carry over. Nail Yakupov struck for his third goal in two games against the Bruins, exactly one minute into the second, to put Colorado ahead, 2-1. Tallies from Sven Andrighetto and Matt Duchene later in the period opened up a 4-1 lead for the Avalanche.

“It’s a sign of weak teams, letting things snowball. I was a big part of that, I was terrible in the second period,” said Krug, who was a minus-3. “Turnovers, penalties, every time I touched the ice something bad happened. I’ll take the blame for the second period.

“Guys are battling, [Adam McQuaid's] fighting, my D partner’s fighting, Tuukka’s making saves…leaving guys out to dry and I’ll take full blame for that.”

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Riley Nash will attempt his best Patrice Bergeron impression on Wednesday night against the Avalanche, as the veteran forward slots in to center the B’s top line alongside Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak with Bergeron still out with a lower-body injury.

“Those guys are pretty creative guys,” Nash said following pregame skate at Pepsi Center. “If you can just be a guy that’s consistent in the spot they know you’ll be then I think that benefits them and they can use their skill and their talent to the best of their abilities. I think just try to get to the net and be outlets for them and try to be as Bergy-like as possible.”

That being said, Nash – in the midst of his seventh NHL season – will not be trying to imitate Bergeron to a fault.

“I thought last game I had a better game and playing more straight-lined, being harder on pucks and getting in on the forecheck,” he said. “If I can create turnovers on their D-men and on their forward for odd-man rushes the other way, I think that will benefit those guys. Get them the puck with space and a little bit of time.

“As we watched all last year, they’re pretty talented guys, so their skill usually take over from there.”

Last season, during his first campaign with Boston, Nash was a stalwart on the Bruins fourth line, teaming with Dominic Moore, Tim Schaller, and Noel Acciari to form one of the team’s most dependable and consistent units. Despite their role not requiring much offense, Nash believes he is at his best when his creativity takes over.

“When I’m at my best, I’m thinking more about creativity and not inside the box, but trying to make plays, not just jamming down the wall and taking the easy way out,” said Nash. “Easy way out might be the right play some times but keep your head up and make the right play, whether that be finding a guy through the seam or whether it be cycling down low, just making the right play when you have the time and space to make a play, you’ve got to take advantage of that.

“In this league it’s obviously really fast now and those opportunities are few and far between.”

Bergeron Skates

Bergeron did take to the ice at the conclusion of Wednesday’s morning skate for some skating and stick handling. He had been ruled out for the game against the Avalanche on Tuesday by Cassidy.

“He’s out there testing it again, there’s not a lot of newness to report on it,” said Cassidy. “Obviously we’ll see how he reacts to being on the ice today. If it goes well, he’ll go out again tomorrow and continue on that path until he’s ready to go.

“Not a lot of news on it that I can give you other than that he’s back out there giving it a whirl.”

Cassidy did say that Bergeron would skate again on Thursday in Arizona if he made it through without any issues.

“That’s the plan if it goes well today,” said Cassidy. “Again, I’ll confirm that with the trainers. The team will be off – it’s a scheduled day off – we will find ice for him if there’s no ill effects from today.”

Heinen Slots In

Danton Heinen will make his 2017-18 debut Wednesday night when he skates on the right side with Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly. Heinen played in eight games with Boston last season and was one of the final cuts during this year’s training camp.

“He’ll probably start there. That’s the plan right now. He’ll go with Kuraly and Schaller on the right side and see how that fits for him,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “I saw growth in his game…he showed that the last game in Chicago, he was winning puck battles below the goal line, making plays from there.

“That’s the type of line they are, he’ll add a little skill to that line, maybe a little finish. But shouldn’t get in their way, either, in terms of playing a North-South game.”

Heinen has played a top-six role for much of his collegiate and pro career – he had 44 points in 64 games for Providence last season – which means he will have to adjust slightly the way he plays on Boston’s fourth line.

“Got to realize where I am in the lineup and just try to keep it simple and try to complement those guys in any way I can,” said Heinen. “Just try to fill the role that I was put in, try to play with energy and keep it simple.”

Face-off Fun

David Krejci has been among the handful of best face-off men in the league thus far, winning draws at 73 percent success rate through two games. As a team, the Bruins are leading the NHL with a 62.7 success rate.

“He’s been real good in there, we’ve needed him to be good, obviously with Patrice out,” said Cassidy. “He’s stepped up and done a good job. The whole group did the other night; we were good in there. Maybe guys are just adjusting [to the new rules].”

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Ryan Spooner has never been considered the most physical player on the ice. And he probably never will be.

But this preseason, the 25-year-old center is making a concerted effort to be more engaged without the puck. Chicago’s Tanner Kero found that out the hard way during the Bruins’ 4-2 preseason victory over the Blackhawks on Monday night.

Playing with David Pastrnak and Matt Beleskey, Spooner set the tone during the game’s opening minute by dropping Kero with a heavy hit in front of the Bruins bench. The check separated Kero from the puck and jumpstarted Boston’s charge up the ice.

Spooner then drifted toward the middle of the neutral zone where he received a pass from Pastrnak, before floating a backhander to Matt Beleskey. Beleskey then found Pastrnak, who cruised toward the Chicago net and roofed one by Corey Crawford for a 1-0 Bruins lead.

It was the exact type of shift Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has been looking for from the former second-round pick.

“He was a crusher on that one – buried a guy,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know if physicality is the proper term. What I want to see is compete. We’ve talked about that. I don’t expect Ryan Spooner to lead our team in hits. But he has to win his share of pucks. How you do that, hard on your stick, sometimes it is body position, sometimes it is knocking a guy off the puck. It was good to see.”

Spooner has made being quicker to the puck one of his top priorities.

“We’ve talked about it before and I think the thing with me is I kind of get in there and I’m gliding a little bit,” said Spooner, who was credited with two hits in 16 minutes, 32 seconds of ice time against Chicago.

“I think [Cassidy] wants me to get in there and take some strides and just close because all the players are good here. If you give them time and space, they’re going to make plays, so as a center, I’ve just got to try to be a bit quicker.”

The Bruins have several young players competing for spots up front, including centers Austin Czarnik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Sean Kuraly. And with the likes of Kuraly, Tim Schaller, Noel Acciari, David Backes, and Riley Nash having the ability to play both wing and center, Spooner knows he must do everything he can to separate himself from the others and earn a spot on the roster.

His strong skills on the power play work in his favor (he led the Bruins with 4:18 of power-play time against the Blackhawks). But his success at the faceoff dot needs to improve. Spooner won just 39 percent of his draws last season and was 6 of 14 against Chicago.

“Then the third period, specifically, [I] put him out for a D-zone faceoff and he won one, he won maybe both,” said Cassidy. “Just some situations that he knows he has to be harder in. I think the rest of his game will take care of itself. But I thought he was good in that area of the game tonight.”

Blue Line Battle

With Torey Krug sidelined for at least a couple more weeks with a jaw fracture, a spot has opened up on the left side of the Bruins’ back end. Among those angling for the spot are Rob O’Gara (he was on the Opening Night roster a year ago), Matt Grzelcyk (he played two NHL games last season), and Jeremy Lauzon (he’s a first-year pro) – all of whom are left shots.

All three candidates suited up against the Blackhawks on Monday night and performed well. O’Gara led the team with 22 minutes, 28 seconds of ice time, while Grzelcyk (plus-1, one shot) was second among defensemen with 1:46 of ice time on the power play. Lauzon, meanwhile, potted his first goal of the preseason with a seeing-eye wrister from the point and landed three shots on goal.

“I know they push me and push the older guys,” the 24-year-old O’Gara said of the young talent. “It fosters a real competitive nature and it pushes everyone to be the best player they can be, and that’s exactly what you want going into a season. I think that’s the biggest thing to take from kind of coming up in a big group of young guys…pushing each other.

“And you know you’re not the only ones going through this stuff. So you have guys to lean on besides the vets who are awesome.”