As far as the public was concerned, the status of David Krejci remained up in the air as the Bruins flew west Friday.
The team did not say whether Krejci was on board the cross-country flight to Reno, Nev., and the hourlong bus trip to the site of Sunday’s game against the Flyers at the edge of Lake Tahoe (2 p.m., NBC). However, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Krejci and defenseman Kevan Miller stayed home.
Krejci left Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Devils at TD Garden with a lower-body injury, after logging 6:31 over seven shifts. If he is unavailable Sunday, the Bruins have several options at second-line center, Jack Studnicka among them.
The club posted on Twitter a photo of Studnicka, who turned 22 Thursday, boarding the chartered plane at Hanscom Field in Bedford.
Studnicka recently played two games for Providence (0-1—1, fighting major) as he rehabbed an undisclosed injury. He was not present for the P-Bruins’ 1-0 win over Bridgeport Friday, ostensibly on his way to meet the big team.
Studnicka played in Boston’s first six games of the season, two of which came against the Flyers at TD Garden. He scored his first NHL goal to start a third-period comeback in a 5-4 shootout win Jan. 21. He was held scoreless two nights later.
He was injured Jan. 28 against the Penguins, possibly when he absorbed a heavy hit from fellow rookie Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
If Krejci is out, Studnicka could be deployed as a middle-six center, albeit playing sheltered minutes (read: offensive-zone faceoffs only). The Bruins will be the home team in Tahoe, with the benefit of last change.
Studnicka, a natural pivot, can also play right wing, as he has during his eight NHL games (and his most recent stint in the AHL), if the Bruins were to move Trent Frederic from left wing to the middle. Taxi squadder Greg McKegg, who plays center and left wing, is another option.
Ordering up shots
Despite regulation losses in their last two games, the Bruins (10-3-2) remained 3 points ahead of the Flyers (8-3-3) atop the East Division. They had plenty to fix after a dud against the Devils.
“We just didn’t want to do what it took to get pucks back and win pucks and hang onto pucks,” coach Bruce Cassidy said Thursday. “For myself, you go back to the room. Did we lack focus? Was it one of those nights? Is the puck just not our friend? Are we not conditioned?
“You’d think after four to five days away from playing that we would have been a hungrier team. But we weren’t. So we’ll address that.”
One of the main issues: Several players turned down prime shooting opportunities. Outside of a fired-up David Pastrnak (six shots), no one landed more than three attempts. Charlie Coyle and Nick Ritchie finished with zero, Brad Marchand with one.
“It’s been an issue for our team here,” Cassidy said. “We tend to overpass a little bit. There’s certain players that come around, and others we have to hammer away on. We’ll continue to do that.
“But, the onus becomes on the player when he’s on the ice to make the right decisions, right? Coaches, we’re here for structure. We’re here to instill discipline, culture, how we want to play, identities, all those things.
“The shooting part, once they’re on the ice, the execution falls on the player. We just have to buy in a little bit more. It was addressed.
“If we’re not, then we have to defend better than anybody in the National Hockey League — every night —because it’s going to be a lot of 2-1 games if we’re not willing to put pucks on the net.”
Patrice Bergeron spent one full season in the Canadian junior ranks: As a 17-year-old in 2002-03, he played for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior League. Bergeron moved to Bathurst, New Brunswick, about 350 miles from his boyhood home in Sillery, to the south of downtown Quebec City.
A new assistant coach on the team, Sylvain Couturier, had just moved his family to town from the Montreal suburbs. Couturier’s son, Sean, was a 9-year-old rink rat.
The younger Couturier, now a Flyer and among Bergeron’s annual competitors for the Selke Trophy, recalled watching a rookie in the Q rocketing toward the pros.
“I was quite young, but I remember from my dad coaching him that he was a real responsible player at a young age,” Couturier said of Bergeron, who was drafted 45th overall after that season, and made the Bruins out of training camp that fall as an 18-year-old. “He had quite a progress in those 2-3 years, going from midget to junior to the NHL.”
The Bruins, who did not bring blue liners Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jakub Zboril (upper body), will be shorthanded Sunday. The Flyers even more so. Because of COVID protocols, forwards — captain Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, and Jakub Voráček — and defenseman Justin Braun did not travel. Additionally, promising young forward Morgan Frost had shoulder surgery this month and is expected to miss the rest of the season … Those players were missing Thursday, when Philadelphia lost to the Rangers, 3-2, in a shootout. The Flyers patched holes with call-ups Maksim Sushko (NHL debut), Andy Andreoff, Samuel Morin, and David Kase. The latter, a 24-year-old with seven NHL games under his belt, is the younger brother of injured Bruins winger Ondrej Kase (upper body). The elder Kase is skating lightly on his own, his return TBD.
Hart to start
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, speaking before the team departed for Lake Tahoe, did not have a Sunday lineup solidified. He did commit to starting in goal Carter Hart (5-2-3, 3.31, .902), who has worked 10 of his team’s 14 games … According to the Flyers, Thursday was the first game in nearly 12 years — since March 1, 2009 — that they played a game with neither Giroux nor Voráček in the lineup. It broke a streak of 889 games with at least one of those two dressed … Voráček, a Czech countryman and close pal of Pastrnak’s, was said by Vigneault to be “chomping at the bit” to return, as he was without COVID symptoms. “He understands the situation,” Vigneault said. “It’s not easy to spend 14 days at home.” … The game is being held in Stateline, Nev., on the California-Nevada border. The NHL’s icemasters have set up a rink a couple hundred feet from the water, on the 18th hole of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort. The Avalanche and Golden Knights will play there Saturday afternoon.