Bruins notebook: Practice gets 'feisty,' Studnicka impresses, 4 players absent


Another Bruins practice, another day of good news/bad news. The good news is that Chris Wagner returned after missing the last two practices and Anton Blidh returned after missing Monday's practice.

The bad news is that David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase remained "unfit to participate" for a seventh straight full-team practice, Charlie McAvoy missed a second straight practice, and Joakim Nordstrom joined the absentee list.

We know the Bruins have had some issues with test results being delayed or coming back inconclusive, and coach Bruce Cassidy suggested that was a factor once again.

"We went through, again, some testing stuff that didn't work out exactly on our schedule," he said. "Hopefully tomorrow we're on time with that."

Cassidy said Wednesday will be a scheduled maintenance for much of the team and that the next full-team practice will be Thursday. He said it's "absolutely" a possibility that some of the guys who missed Tuesday's practice will be back on the ice then.

Here are some more notes from Tuesday:

- Tuukka Rask revealed that he suffered a fractured finger a few weeks ago, but said he's not too worried about it and should be fine by the time playoffs start. Read more about the injury here.

- The three finalists for the Hart Trophy were announced, and Pastrnak wasn't one of them. Read our take on why he's not really that big of a snub here.

- The Bruins wanted their practices to have good pace right from the start, and by all accounts they have. But now they have started to ramp up the intensity and physicality as well, and Cassidy said he liked what he saw from that standpoint Tuesday.

"Today was a little more competitive. I liked that a lot," Cassidy said. "Guys know it's Week 2. We're getting closer. A little more puck battles. The scrimmages, we've asked guys to start stepping it up a bit, without punishing your teammates in terms of catching someone with their head down. Just make them earn pucks. So a little more in-tight battles, along-the-wall battles, in-the-corner battles, loose-puck battles. I liked that today. Guys were getting a little feisty. That's a good sign. They want to start getting battle-tested."

- Top prospect Jack Studnicka got another look in a top-six right wing role Tuesday, this time alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. By all accounts he looked pretty good, including in setting up this Zdeno Chara goal:

Studnicka ➡️ Bergeron ➡️ Studnicka ➡️ Chara --#NHLBruins | @TDBank_US

— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 21, 2020

Cassidy said that he had kept Studnicka mostly at center, his natural position, the first week just to get him comfortable, but that with the absences of Pastrnak and Kase stretching into a second week, and with fellow right wing Wagner also missing two practices, he's wanted to get Studnicka more looks there to show what he can do.

"Now you get into the second week and you start to wonder about chemistry and who fits best with who," Cassidy said. "We have next week to do that as well. When you go Bergy, (David) Krejci, (Charlie) Coyle, (Sean) Kuraly, (Par) Lindholm, the biggest strength of our team is our play down the middle. So if Jack is gonna have an opportunity to get into the lineup, we have to look at him on the right wing.

"Now, Pasta and Kase aren't here. Wagner missed a few days. It kind of opens it up for him a little bit if that trend continues. Put him on the right today. I liked his confidence, he made some plays, obviously made a play on Zee's goal. But in general, he seems to be a little more confident. That probably has to do with a full season of pro under his belt. Played a few games for us, knows he belongs.

"...We'll see how that plays out the rest of the week. If it continues to go well, then we'll give him a look down the road and see if he's a better fit than another player."

- Cassidy said the team is still deciding on whether to bring three or four goalies to the Toronto bubble, but that their first thought all along has been to bring four, with Max Lagace and Dan Vladar joining Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Teams can bring a maximum of 31 players.

"You may have to risk a spot, and we've had that conversation," Cassidy said. "Our first thought was we'd bring four for that reason, to make sure we don't have to get a guy up to speed who hasn't really been practicing. You just never know. It's too important a position to get stuck in."

Cassidy also reiterated that his plan is for both Rask and Halak to play in the round-robin games and then go from there when it comes to goaltending plans. Cassidy doesn't foresee using Lagace or Vladar at all in those games because the Bruins are treating them as important games, and because Rask and Halak need all the reps they can get.

Rask said on Friday that he would be "surprised" if any goalie plays every minute of every playoff game this year, like he did last year, because of the challenges of getting back up to full game speed in such a short period of time.

"Jaro will play in the round-robin. We have to get him ready as well as Tuukka," Cassidy said. "I don't know how it will play out exactly yet, but he'll get in there. We need him ready for the playoffs as well, both of them. You need to see live action to do that. I think Tuukka understands that part of it. How much and what we divide up, that will be as we get closer. Let's get to Toronto first.

"We trust both our goaltenders, and they have to be honest with us about where they are with their game, how much they need, and what they don't need."

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