WILMINGTON — The Bruins are not in a good situation.
They are 0-2. They close their three-game homestand Monday against the undefeated Lightning, the defending Eastern Conference champions. Their only trustworthy line is no longer together after Brad Marchand suffered a concussion in the third period of Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Canadiens.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. We know that,” coach Claude Julien said Sunday. “There’s still some mistakes that are made. We need to get on the same page here. Sometimes we have a tendency to want to do too much. Too much throws everybody else off. Doing your job and doing it right is important.”
Julien did not have an estimate on how much time his No. 1 left wing will miss. The Bruins leave for Colorado on Tuesday to start a two-game road swing against the Avalanche and Coyotes. Depending on the severity of his symptoms, it’s possible that Marchand will not travel with the team.
Marchand was injured when he launched himself into Dale Weise. The Bruins left wing was dazed by the collision. He needed help retreating down the tunnel toward the dressing room.
For the first two games, Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Loui Eriksson were the only linemates who could be trusted in all situations. While David Pastrnak has created scoring chances, the No. 2 right wing has been careless with the puck at times and loose with his defensive coverage. The third line of Jimmy Hayes, Ryan Spooner, and Brett Connolly has not played with the puck enough. After Joonas Kemppainen centered the fourth line in the opener, the rookie was scratched against Montreal.
With Marchand unavailable, Connolly moved up to the first line in Sunday’s practice. Eriksson, who had been the right wing, moved to Bergeron’s left.
As the line’s new addition, Connolly will have to assume heavy defensive lifting against the Lightning, his former team. Julien will deploy Bergeron’s threesome against Tampa’s first line (Jonathan Drouin, Steven Stamkos, and Ryan Callahan) or second (Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov). Connolly will also be asked to score goals. Through two games, Connolly (two shots on net, four even-strength goals against) has not connected at either end of the rink.
“Tough night for all three of us,” Connolly said of his line against Montreal. “We know that. Definitely something we’re looking to correct. Definitely not acceptable, for sure. We’ve got to be better than that.”
The Bruins knew the third line would chase the game at times. They were willing to tolerate this because of their potential to create chances. But Hayes, Spooner, and Connolly rarely played to their offensive strengths because of their defensive limitations.
“They’ve got to be a little heavier as a line,” Julien said. “I felt they’re losing too many battles. Because of that, they’re not spending enough time and not having opportunities to create enough. In order to be successful, you’ve got to win those battles for pucks and races and be strong on them. As a line, they need to be better there. They’ve got the skill level.”
Chris Kelly, who centered the fourth line against Montreal, practiced at left wing Sunday next to Spooner and Hayes. Kemppainen, Zac Rinaldo, Max Talbot, and Tyler Randell were the fourth-liners.
The Bruins placed Matt Irwin on waivers Sunday. After Irwin’s first two games as a Bruin, his employers declared they were wary of giving him a third.
Irwin was on the ice for both of Montreal’s five-on-five goals. Two nights earlier, Winnipeg scored three of its six goals when Irwin was playing defense. The former UMass-Amherst defenseman fought the puck and struggled in coverage.
Last week, the Bruins kept Talbot on the roster after placing the forward on waivers. They have yet to determine whether they will do the same with Irwin. It’s likely he’ll clear waivers by Monday’s noon deadline.
The Bruins had signed Irwin to a one-year, $800,000 contract.
Julien termed Zdeno Chara as questionable for Monday’s matinee. However, based on Chara’s Sunday practice and the departure of the left-shot Irwin, it’s likely the captain will make his season debut. Chara participated in all drills, including power-play work, where he split time with Connolly at the point. Chara took most of his practice shifts with Colin Miller. “He’s very tolerant when it comes to pain. He’s pretty tough there,” Julien said. “It’s a matter of if he’s good to go and what’s the risk factor.” . . . Randell was a healthy scratch for the first two games. It’s possible he makes his NHL debut Monday as the No. 4 right wing . . . If Chara plays, Zach Trotman will be the healthy scratch for the second straight game.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.