As is their modus operandi, the Bruins were tight-lipped about the condition of injured center David Krejci following their 3-2 loss to the Devils Thursday night at the Garden.
Per coach Bruce Cassidy, the 34-year-old pivot will undergo an evaluation of his lower-body injury Friday morning in Brighton, at which time it will be determined if he can make the trip to Lake Tahoe, Nev., later in the day for Sunday’s 2 p.m. game against the Flyers.
“I don’t know what his situation will be,” said Cassidy, who saw Krejci exit the bench and head to the dressing room at the start of the second period after logging only seven shifts and 6:31 in ice time.
Center ice options include possibly moving rookie Trent Frederic, a natural center, into the middle, or perhaps activating reserve pivot Greg McKegg, an offseason free-agent signee.
Also, the Bruins could call up Jack Studnicka from AHL Providence, where he has played two games while working his way back from an injury he sustained with the varsity.
If Krejci must sit, added Cassidy, it’s an opportunity someone can seize.
“No one,” said Cassidy, “ever has walked through my door and said, ‘I’m playing too much, Coach.” That’s how they have to look at it, more opportunity for them.”
A switch for Pastrnak
The Bruins were back in the Garden the first time on home ice for the Black and Gold since Jan. 28, when they wrapped up a four-win homestand with a 4-1 trimming of the Penguins.
It was David Pastrnak’s first game on Causeway Street this season, and he was on a new line, riding right wing on the second unit pivoted by Krejci. Pastrnak’s 2021 start was delayed by offseason hip surgery, but he returned to action Jan. 30 and posted five goals in his first three games.
But Pastrnak’s production has been in a funk of late. He carried a meager line of 0-3—3 over his last four games into Thursday night’s action and had posted only seven shots in those four games, a sharp contrast to the 19 shots he put on net when scoring five times in his first three games.
Pastrnak went without a shot on net — a rarity for him — during last Friday’s 1-0 win over the Rangers. He then landed only one shot Saturday night against the Islanders, leaving him with 10 shot attempts over two games, but only the one shot landed.
The lower production, according to coach Bruce Cassidy, was not a factor in moving Pastrnak to Krejci’s line.
“We expected after the long layoff, the surgery, there would be some ups and downs,” said Cassidy. “The ups came quickly. I guess you can call them downs when he doesn’t have as many shots. But we expected some inconsistencies until he finds his game.”
Also, noted Cassidy, members of the No. 1 line (Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Pastrnak) routinely “don’t go too long” in finding their game.
“It was more about balancing some other guys who hadn’t hit the scoresheet,” said Cassidy. “And to be honest, we were going to do this at some point, where Pasta moves away from that line, see how it looks, in season with a new a group. So we figured now’s as good a time as any.”
Pastrnak scored Thursday and squeezed off nine shots, six of which made it to Mackenzie Blackwood’s net.
The Bruins opened the season in New Jersey in January and came away with 3 of a possible 4 points. Because of COVID-related issues, the Devils were out of commission for two weeks following their game of Jan. 28, sidelined until their 5-2 win Tuesday night over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins had not played a game since Saturday … Ex-Boston College Eagle Miles Wood entered the night as the Devils’ top goal scorer with five strikes in 10 games. He was tied in points (8) with former No. 1 pick Jack Hughes and rookie defenseman Ty Smith, who made the leap this year directly from WHL Spokane. Smith, 20, was the 17th pick in the 2018 draft … With defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril both injured, the Bruins used John Moore and Connor Clifton on the blue line. It’s likely both will be exposed in the July 21 expansion draft that will officially welcome Seattle into the NHL. Both have two years remaining on their contracts, Moore with a $2.75 million salary-cap hit and Clifton at a budget-friendly $1 million.
Take it outside
The Bruins will fly to Lake Tahoe, Nev., Friday for their side-of-the-lake matchup Sunday (2 p.m., NBC) against the Flyers. It will be the franchise’s fourth outdoor game, following matchups at Fenway Park (vs. the Flyers), Gillette Stadium (Canadiens), and Notre Dame Stadium (Blackhawks) … Jaro Halak (4-0-1, .938 save percentage) drew the start against the Devils, and Tuukka Rask (6-2-1, .906) will man the cage at Lake Tahoe … Zboril, Grzelcyk, and Ondrej Kase (who has not practiced in a month) will remain in Boston while the club is in Tahoe … Defensemen Urho Vaakanainen and Steve Kampfer, neither of whom has played for the varsity this season, will travel to Tahoe as the back-line extras. A third goalie, likely Callum Booth, also will be on the trip, along with spare forwards Karson Kuhlman and McKegg … Charlie McAvoy will play career game No. 200 Sunday … The next scheduled game at the Garden: March 3 vs. the Capitals.