Missing in action since dishing a backhand pass for Patrice Bergeron’s OT winner in Game 1, top goal scorer David Pastrnak was back on the ice Sunday with a bunch of his Bruins teammates for an optional workout in Toronto.
The chance that Pastrnak will suit up for Game 4 on Monday night in the best-of-seven series with the Hurricanes?
“I’d say 50-50, I guess, at best right now,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, whose charges forged a 2-1 series lead Saturday with a 3-1 trimming of the ‘Canes. “Of course, that could change over 24 hours.”
Pastrnak, forced to sit out July’s two-week refresher camp in Brighton because of COVID-19 quarantine issues, appeared to injure himself seconds after his slick pass to Bergeron for the 4-3 win in Game 1. With the winner in the net, Pastrnak made a small celebratory hop, then immediately could be seen cringing, hunkered over slightly, as if favoring an abdominal or shoulder injury.
Pastrnak, 24, did not play in Game 2 the next night, was absent from Friday’s workout, and again was in the stands as a spectator at Scotiabank Arena for Game 3 on Saturday.
“Pasta skated briefly [Sunday], did some work in the gym,” Cassidy said. “So that’s encouraging. He’s got his skates on out there. How does that bode for [Game 4 Monday night]? Not sure yet, probably a little premature. Let’s see how he does in the morning.”
Rask can return if he wants
Cassidy said he exchanged texts with No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask, who abruptly left Toronto on Saturday to be with his family.
Rask is not expected to return, but the NHL’s Return-to-Play agreement allows for such returns, provided a player meets all protocols related to COVID-19 safety.
Asked if such a return were in the realm of possibility, Cassidy said, “I guess. I mean Tuukka would best be able to answer that.”
Rask, added the coach, “is doing well, his family is doing well, so that’s very encouraging for everyone in the Bruins organization.”
Goalie change doesn’t alter approach
The move to go with Jaroslav Halak in net, subbing in when Rask left the bubble to go home, didn’t cause the Bruins back liners to operate much differently, said veteran defenseman Torey Krug.
“I think the mentality, whether you have Tuuks or Jaro in net, doesn’t change too much,” he said. “I think each guy has different strengths and weaknesses. Jaro tends to play the puck a little bit better, so as a defenseman, it’s just about getting to the right spot.”
With a smile, Krug then added, “Hopefully, [Halak] makes the right play and he doesn’t just give it to the other team right in front of the net, or something.”
Of course, that was Halak’s grand boo-boo in the third period Saturday, fielding a puck behind his net and tossing it into the slot. Nino Niederreiter gloved it down and then deposited it neatly into a wide-open net.
The play Halak should have made was to his open defenseman, Charlie McAvoy in the near corner. Brain cramp. One-goal game.
“For the most part, it’s very similar,” Krug said of the two goalies. “You know we have the utmost confidence in whoever’s behind us and they always give us a chance to win. Nothing too crazy.”
Vladar will be backup again
Halak is expected to be backed again Monday by AHL Providence tender Dan Vladar, a 6-foot-5-inch Czech whose four years of pro hockey do not include a single minute of NHL play … If Cassidy were to pull Anders Bjork from the lineup and move Jack Studnicka to first line, he then likely would choose between Nick Ritchie or Karson Kuhlman to ride with Charlie Coyle and Sean Kuraly on the third line … David Krejci and Brad Marchand each lead the Bruins in postseason scoring with identical lines of 2-4—6 … The Krejci-Ondrej Kase tandem looks as impressive as the front office hoped when the latter was acquired at the trade deadline. Meanwhile, their left winger, Jake DeBrusk (1-0—1 in six postseason games) is clearly fighting it … Lead time through the first three games of the series: Bruins, 68:28; ‘Canes, 7:57. The Bruins held a lead at times in all three games. All of Carolina’s 7:57 came in Game 2 … Talented forward Andrei Svechnikov had an MRI Sunday in Toronto, after getting tangled up in the third period with Zdeno Chara, and is doubtful to return for the rest of the series, according to the ‘Canes. The Boston offense is not the same minus Pastrnak and ditto for the ‘Canes sans Svechnikov … The Bruins won the majority of the faceoffs in the first three games (56.5 percent overall), and have outshot Carolina (114-84).
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.