You almost have to laugh when it comes to the Bruins' inability to get their whole lineup on the ice together for more than a day or two at a time.
Just when it looked like they might finally be there, with the final piece of the puzzle, Ondrej Kase, set to play in his first game on Sunday, the Bruins had to practice Friday without their top two centers.
Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci were both "unfit to participate," according to coach Bruce Cassidy. It's hard to draw any conclusions from that about what the issues are, but the good news is that Cassidy also said he anticipates both will be back on the ice Saturday. Same goes for goalie Jaroslav Halak, who was also "unfit to participate" Friday.
Still, that's one less day of being able to build your lines with the real playoffs just a handful of days away. Krejci's absence is particularly concerning in that respect, as he could use all the reps he can get with Kase and Jake DeBrusk, who looks like he will be moving back to the left wing on that line after playing right wing on Charlie Coyle's line Wednesday.
"Yes, it is," Cassidy said when asked if it was frustrating to not have his whole lineup available Friday. "We’re going to just coach through it and keep playing. Ondrej’s getting his reps at least. He was going to be with Krejci and DeBrusk today, so he got some reps with Jake.
Cassidy is trying to take a glass half full approach.
"I look at it as the younger guys, if they’re forced in later for whatever reasons, they’re getting reps with good players," he said. "There’s always a benefit, and we look at kind of the glass half full side of it. We anticipate tomorrow we’ll have our full group. Until we do, we’ll just keep trying to make it work.
"Obviously this whole training camp we haven’t had lines together consistently. I think everyone’s aware of that. It’s been discussed for different reasons. Will it affect us in the postseason? Time will tell. Right now, I guess to get back to your question, yeah I’d like to see our group together, see what it looks like first of all, all together. But until that happens, we’re just going to fit people in for practice or games if need be, where I best think they can help us, and we’ll go from there."
While Bergeron and linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have a lot more experience to fall back on, they could use the reps, too, as they haven't been nearly as good as they need to be through the first two round-robin games. They've been on the ice for just one Bruins goal so far (Charlie McAvoy's on Wednesday), while also allowing two and basically breaking even in shot attempts (51.35% Corsi).
"That line hasn’t produced for us," Cassidy said. "Typically when they don’t for extended periods of time, we’ll have trouble winning. I mean, that’s fair to say. The top of our lineup hasn’t been scoring much for us. That’ll have to change, or we just have to defend better. The other night we didn’t take care of the middle of the ice and it cost us. We didn’t need a lot of goals. It’s 2-2, so if we defend a little bit better we can get away with it."
Still, Cassidy remains confident they'll get going in time for the first round.
"I think those guys will be ready to go in Game 1," he said. "They’re pros, Pasta, Marchy and Bergy. They’re going to do some video work (Saturday) to drill down on some of their details. That’s obviously a big part of it right now. They’re not completely in sync, and some of that’s on them to get focused and get back to the details. But I trust them, and barring an injury on Sunday, I believe they’ll be ready."