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Brad Marchand expected to return Wednesday

Brad Marchand (center) has not played since Nov. 11 against the Maple Leafs. Barry Chin/Globe staff/File

If all goes according to plan — rare for the Bruins this season — Brad Marchand will be back in the lineup Wednesday when the white-hot Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Garden for the first time in 2017-18.

As for Sunday evening, with the Oilers in town for a 5 p.m. faceoff, Marchand was on the sideline for a sixth straight game.

“I want to bring him back as soon as he’s medically cleared,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Obviously, we want him back 100 percent, to stay healthy — like everybody. But as a coach, I’m selfish. As soon as they’re ready, I want him back in the lineup, especially a guy of his caliber.”


Marchand, the club leader in goals (39), assists (46), and points (85) last season, exited the lineup after a 4-1 loss to the Leafs at the Garden on Nov. 11. In keeping with club policy, the nature of his injury(ies) has not been disclosed. It’s possible he has been dealing with a knee injury and a concussion.

“Right now we are surviving without him,” noted Cassidy, his club riding a four-game winning streak into the matchup with the Oilers. “You can say we are thriving without him at times. But at the end of the day, he’s a really good player for us — a high-motor guy who makes people around him better. We’d love to have him back.”

Marchand worked out Saturday, first shooting with David Backes prior to the workout, and then with the entire squad. However, he wore a red sweater, indicating he had not been cleared for contact.

“Just precautionary,” explained Marchand, who exited the lineup with eight goals and 15 points through 14 games. “I am getting into game shape and game mode. I’m trying to do as much as I can out there and I’m feeling pretty good.”


Ever energetic, the feisty Marchand moves to the Garden’s ninth-floor (press box level) when he’s out of the lineup. He has to harness his perpetual energy while sitting in a rolling chair, watching the action play out six stories below.

“It’s hard to watch, but I think you can use it more as a learning experience,” he said. “Try to learn areas of the game where maybe you can improve a bit. It’s a lot more fun to watch when we’re winning, and the guys have been playing great the last few games — so it’s been easier to watch.”

His focus when up there while watching?

“Really everything,” he said. “Try to watch and see what sticks out. Different plays or different guys . . . you can see a guy’s tendencies really well from up top. And you can break it all down, and see areas of the game you may focus on.”

Who’s next in net?

Next goalie up for the Bruins? There’s no clear-cut answer to that question, following Tuukka Rask’s 32-save effort Sunday in a 4-2 loss to the Oilers at the Garden.

Rask, making his first start since Nov. 15, wasn’t treated to the same front-to-back effort his team displayed during the four-game run Anton Khudobin enjoyed in net over the last two weeks. Rask was good —not great, but good enough that he might have won if everyone around him played better. The Bruins managed a measly 11 shots on net through 40 minutes and too often left themselves, and their goalie, vulnerable in the back end.


“A lot of shots early, I got in the game,” said Rask, “and after that, it’s the same film I’ve seen before . . . like, tough bounces.”

Rask went on to note that when the losses pile up (as in 3-8-2 for the Finnish stopper), it becomes frustrating.

“But tomorrow’s a new day, get back to work . . . and start building something new,” he said. “That’s really all you can control, your work ethic, your attitude, and how you show up to work. It’s what I am going to do.”

Cassidy will have the next two days to figure whether Rask or Khudobin will be the starter here Wednesday night vs. the Lightning.

“He needs a win, he wants a win,” said Cassidy, reviewing Rask’s work for the night. “He’s a goalie. They are judged on their wins and losses, generally speaking. It would help him a lot to get offense. Having said that, we are not a 4-5-6-goal team. Most nights we are in that three area. When we get to three, we’re usually OK. We didn’t get there tonight, unfortunately.”

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a stop in front of a screen by the Oilers’ Patrick Maroon. Rask made 32 saves Sunday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff

Powered down

Despite winning four a row, the Bruins were an icy cold 0 for 10 on the power play over that stretch, and 0 for 16 overall including the back-to-back losses to Toronto Nov. 10-11.

Overall, said Cassidy, his club improved its offensive zone entrees, but still need to improve on shot selection and, obviously, net finish.


“I don’t think we’re putting enough pucks at the net,” said Cassidy, his club parked in 19th place on the PP with a success rate of 18.3 percent. “I think we are overlooking shot situations — looking for a perfect play. And right now it’s not clicking, and if it does, we are not finishing. My experience with the power play, when you’re not scoring, you have to get a greasy goal — with people around the goal and you get a puck the net.”

No surprise the six-game drought was in lockstep with Marchand, among the club’s most clever hands around the net, out of the lineup. In his 14 games this season, Marchand picked up two goals and three assists — a third of his overall points — on the man-advantage.

“There is progress, but not where we want to be,” said Cassidy. “We need production on it. Right now we are not getting it. I don’t think we are generating a ton of chances to get into that rhythm.”

Cehlarik out a month

Peter Cehlarik, who sustained a leg injury in a collision with ex-Bruin Matt Hunwick late in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Penguins, was hors de combat for the Oiler tilt.

Prior to Sunday’s puck drop, the Bruins announced that Cehlarik will be out of the lineup for at least four weeks. He spent the night in the press box, getting around on crutches, a large brace running nearly the length of his left leg.


A second-year pro, Cehlarik, 22, underwent offseason shoulder surgery, which delayed his start in training camp. Recently called up amid the rash of injuries on the varsity roster, he was 1-1—2 in five games this year, finally scoring his first career goal after going 0-2—2 in 11 games last season.

The Bruins also were without Ryan Spooner, who aggravated a groin injury that recently sidelined him for a month.

Due to the injuries, Jordan Szwarz and Matt Beleskey made it back into the rotation.

Star attraction

The Bruins got a rare look at star Oilers center Connor McDavid, who next year will begin his new contract that will pay him $100 million over eight sesaons.

Gilbert Perreault!” said Cassidy, asked prior to faceoff if McDavid reminded him of anyone. “I’m going back in time . . . flying through the neutral zone. He’s bigger. But he’s got a lot of that flair. When he winds it up, he’s goin’. He is a nice player. I enjoy watching him and I’m glad we don’t have to play him more than a couple of times a year.”

The key to defending the 20-year-old?

“I think matching up his speed early,’” stressed Cassidy. “Denying him the puck with good speed early. It will be a challenge, because he will swing deep and come from behind — but we’ve got to find a way to make sure we recognize that and make sure we lock him up as early as we can. If he gets [the puck] with a head of steam, there’s not too many guys who are going to be able to play him straight up and deny him entry.”

In the Oilers heyday with Wayne Gretzky the game’s No. 1 center, the Bruins assigned Steve Kasper the duty of tracking the Great One everywhere. More than once, Kasper followed Gretzky right to the bench and stood there at the sideboards, waiting to see if Gretzky would jump right back into the action.

Gilbert, who turned 67 earlier this month, starred in Buffalo, pivoting the famed French Connection line with Rene Robert and Richard Martin.

Oilers star Connor McDavid, here skating prior to a Nov. 24 game in Buffalo, had a pair of assists against the Bruins on Sunday.Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.