Production below the top lines is even more of a concern for the Bruins now that two members of the second line, David Krejci and Karson Kuhlman, are missing in action.
Krejci was placed on injured reserve Tuesday morning, meaning he will miss at least a week, and the team announced during its 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs that Kuhlman will be out longer.
The rookie right winger, 19 games into his NHL tour (not including an extended run in last year’s postseason), suffered a nondisplaced hairline fracture of his right tibia. It happened Saturday in Toronto when he absorbed a Jake DeBrusk shot. He will be reevaluated in approximately four weeks.
Until Kuhlman and Krejci return, the Bruins will try to wring what they can out of everyone not named Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron.
So far, so good, in Tuesday’s win. Brett Ritchie and bottom-sixer Par Lindholm each scored a goal. The top line scored twice more, but the key finding: Boston’s second line contributed without Krejci putting scoring chances on tees.
“It was coming,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You could see it. Ritchie’s starting to turn a corner a little bit. [Charlie] Coyle and DeBrusk, they’ve been closer, they’re on pucks a little better. I was happy for them to get rewarded. Not only that, I thought they did a better job getting out of their end, winning puck battles when it mattered.”
Cassidy is asking Lindholm to provide some of what he showed in his four years in the Swedish league. The serviceable defender was nearly a point-per-game scorer in 2017-18 (18-29—47 in 49 games for Skelleftea) before departing for North America. Tuesday, he chipped in his second NHL goal in 70 career games.
More good news: Call-up Anders Bjork, making his season debut on emergency recall with Krejci on IR, added a spark to the line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. After playing solid defensively and hitting a post on a hard inside drive, Bjork may have earned himself another look this weekend. The Bruins play a home-away set with the Blues (Saturday) and Rangers (Sunday).
“I thought he had a nice night, too,” Cassidy said of Bjork (four shots in 13:17). “He may be able to give us some of that on a regular basis.”
The Bruins are being cautious with the 23-year-old, a third-year pro whose first two seasons were wrecked by shoulder injuries. He was leading Providence in scoring (3-5—8) at the time of his recall, making the most of his demotion after breaking camp with the varsity the last two years.
Krejci, out for the third game in a row with an undisclosed upper-body injury following a Ryan Getzlaf cross-check last Monday, will not be eligible to return until Tuesday’s game against the Sharks. It’s unclear if he will be ready.
“It was probably a tough injury to diagnose right out of the gate,” Cassidy said before puck drop. “The doctor thought he would benefit from more time off. How long that is . . . I’m the wrong guy to ask.”
Joakim Nordstrom (upper body), Cassidy said, is “very close,” and could return Saturday. If he does, and Bjork remains in the lineup, David Backes (team-low 7:13) could sit.
Recognized during a first-period stoppage with a graphic on the video board for playing in his 500th game, Tuukka Rask gave a wave and clapped, and pounded his chest with his blocker.
“They asked me this morning if I wanted it,” he said after the game. “I was like, yeah, whatever, let’s do it.”
Typical Tuukka. But he was indeed moved.
“It’s super nice,” said Rask, the winningest and longest-tenured netminder in franchise history. “It’s one of those milestones you’re only going to have once, if you ever get there. Wanted to recognize the crowd. They’ve been behind me and the team for so many years. Nice moment.”
Rask, who silenced a legion of doubters with his play last postseason, said he feels appreciated.
“Of course, yeah,” he said. “Obviously you’re going to get criticized because that’s your job, and sometimes you [stink]. Sometimes you don’t. You’ve got to take it.
“The fans are great. They love their sports. Every athlete should feel appreciated and grateful they can play in this kind of town.”
Toronto, which went 3 for 4 on the penalty kill, has racked up more PK time (66:01) than all but three teams. The Leafs committed six stick fouls in Monday’s overtime loss at Columbus, including one that led to the winning penalty shot in OT. Their lack of discipline showed Tuesday when Andreas Johnsson hooked Kuraly in the offensive zone. After the Bruins scored on the power play, Johnsson went right back in the box for roughing on the faceoff . . . After facing the Leafs again in Toronto Nov. 15, the Bruins see them next March 14, in what could be a pre-playoff renewing of acquaintances . . . Cassidy coached in his 200th game for the Bruins. He entered Tuesday with the fourth-highest points percentage (.673) of the 28 to patrol Boston’s bench . . . Toronto backup Michael Hutchinson was likely the only right-catching goalkeeper the Bruins will see all season. The only active righty aside from Hutchinson, a 2008 Boston draft pick (third round, 77th overall), is Colorado backup Pavel Francouz . . . The AHL suspended Laval Rocket forward Michael McCarron, who ran over Providence forward Brendan Gaunce in a game Friday. Gaunce was concussed and stretchered off the ice. He is week to week. The league gave McCarron two games for interference . . . Latest to get a tryout as Garden public address voice: Medford’s Hank Morse, formerly of “The Loren and Wally Show” on WROR-FM.
Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports