The Boston Bruins went 1-1-1 for the week, including a tough overtime loss on a Steven Stamkos bomb after David Pastrnak was unable to finish a breakaway at the other end of the ice against Tampa Bay Saturday night. The team outplayed the Lightning for large stretches and erased a two-goal deficit to secure a point, but there are no moral victories in hockey.
Getting three out of a possible six points with the challenges the Bruins had feels like a moral victory, though.
Things got off to a rough start, with Bruce Cassidy going into COVID-19 protocols before his team had to play the Detroit Red Wings at home Tuesday. Joe Sacco (Medford, Mass.) took over the duties to run Boston’s bench, falling by a 2-1 score. The double whammy came when the NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Brad Marchand three games for an alleged slewfoot on Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Boston’s win over Vancouver Nov. 28., taking the team’s leading scorer out of the mix for the week.
The undermanned B’s rebounded with a 2-0 road win against Nashville, but lost the services of rising defender Jakub Zboril, who went down with a lower body injury (right leg). With word coming from Sacco that he will be re-examined, it doesn't sound like he will be back anytime soon. It's a major setback for the young defender who was coming into his own this season after being a spare part in the early going.
Compounding matters, news that Jake DeBrusk had reportedly requested a trade caused a social media stir. Sourced to his agent, Rick Valette, who confirmed to TSN’s Edmonton-based Ryan Rishaug, that the embattled B’s forward asked for a change of scenery a week ago.
DeBrusk showed character by scoring the opening (and winning) goal against the Predators and playing an effective game despite the rumors swirling around him in the days since. Jeremy Swayman’s 42-save shutout secured an important two points, and that set the stage for a key test Saturday night when the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning came to town.
With the team ‘D’ already smarting with the loss of Zboril, Charlie McAvoy was scratched due to (non-COVID-related) illness. That opened the door for Connor Clifton to return to the lineup, with Jack Ahcan from Providence to fill the gaping hole in the rotation for one night.
Here’s a breakdown of the more important storylines of the week, with the focus on what could come next for DeBrusk.