Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo will not play Wednesday vs. Colorado
Now 10-5-2 (.647), the Bruins will pass the first-quarter mark on the 82-game schedule during their four-game trip that begins Wednesday night in Denver.
Given the myriad injuries to the back line, and the spotty production of forwards 4 through 12, it has been hard to figure just what kind of team the Bruins have for the remainder of 2018-19.
“Well, we are starting to figure it out up front, at least,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, who has the luxury of a prolific No. 1 line ( Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak) that has piled up 68 points. “We know we have a very good backup [goaltender]. We’ve got some depth on defense.”
That depth on the back line could be tested yet again on the upcoming trip. Top four defenseman Brandon Carlo was held out of Sunday’s win over Vegas, didn’t practice Tuesday, and will not play against the Avs. He remained home for therapy on whatever ails him.
Prospect Jakub Zboril, yet to play in an NHL game, was summoned Tuesday morning from AHL Providence and was on the flight west. He is not expected to play in Denver, unless Cassidy opts to sub someone out of his No. 3 pairing of rookie Jeremy Lauzon and Steve Kampfer.
As for the rest of the nicked-up defensemen, the concussed duo of Charlie McAvoy and Urho Vaakanainen did not make the early-afternoon flight to Denver. However, Kevan Miller, recovering from a hand injury, did accompany the team west and could return to the lineup next Wednesday for the trip closer in Detroit.
Zboril, 21, was the first of Boston’s three consecutive first-round picks in the 2015 draft, followed by Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn. Zboril, Senyshyn, and Ilya Samsonov (Carolina) remain the only three first-round picks from that draft yet to play a single NHL game.
Through 13 games this season with the WannaB’s, his second season in the AHL, Zboril has put up a meager 2-2—4 line.
“He moves the puck well,” Cassidy said. “He’s like a lot of young guys. He’s had good games, and games where he needs to be better. We brought him up because Carlo will miss at least Wednesday. So on the trip, we want to make sure we are covered in case of illness or injury.”
Cassidy expects to open the trip with the same six-pack that suited up Sunday against Vegas: 1. Zdeno Chara-Matt Grzelcyk; 2. Torey Krug-Steve Moore; 3. Lauzon-Kampfer.
Zboril, 6 feet and 200 pounds, was understandably ecstatic over being one big step closer to making his NHL debut.
“I didn’t expect it,” he said. “Yesterday I was driving up to Boston, just dropping off my girlfriend at the airport, came back to my apartment in Providence and all of a sudden I got called up. Oh, wow. So I just packed up my stuff and came up last night.”
Zboril admitted getting off to a poor October start with Providence.
“I wasn’t happy, and the coaches weren’t happy,” he recalled. “They sat me down for a game. Cleared my head. Started playing a little bit different game with more pace, more urgency in my game.”
He admitted to being a bundle of nerves and excitement prior to boarding the team flight in Bedford for the eight-day trip.
“When I got the call yesterday, I started sweating right away,” he said. “Oh, wow, I got so nervous I felt it in my belly.”
Cassidy liked the shape of lines 2 through 4 over the weekend: 2: Joakim Nordstrom-David Krejci-DeBrusk; 3. Danton Heinen-Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson-Anders Bjork; 4. Chris Wagner-Sean Kuraly-David Backes.
“We’ve seen Nordy go up and play well on the second line,” said Cassidy, who started Nordstrom lower in the order but increasingly has valued his versatility. “He adds a dimension. Maybe not the dimension we thought early in the year, in terms of having a younger kid there who’s more of a scorer.”
Such was the forecast for former Harvard standout Ryan Donato, who has since been assigned to Providence for some remedial goal-scoring classes.
“I think [Nordstrom] has made the line function well,” Cassidy said. “If that ends up being a good two-way line that scores, that’s fine.”
Sad day for the vets among the Bruins press corps with the passing of Frankie Vona, who for nearly 35 years (1973-2007) was one of the club’s game-night press stewards under the watch of PR man extraordinaire Nate Greenberg.
Vona, recently under care at Mass General, was one of the many lovable Garden characters who imbued the building (old and new) with a unique spirit. Young reporters knew they finally were gaining a foothold when Vona riddled them with a series of invectives and insults — be it over their stories, their clothes, or poor choice in post-game libation.
“Now,” Vona would say, after dishing out a lambasting, “what can I get you? You want Brad Park? Hold on. Hey, Parkie . . . get your rear end over here, you fraud. Some nitwit wants to talk to you.”
In his other life, Vona was a career firefighter with the Newton Fire Department. No telling how his brothers and sisters of the NFD will go on without his jabs, which he continued to deliver well into retirement.