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Bruins top story lines heading into the bubble

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

With the Bruins having just completed their summer training camp and moved into the NHL's Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto Sunday night, here are the top stories from Phase 3 and leading into Phase 4. We'll start with a couple league-wide items and then talk specifically Bruins.


1. "Unfit to Play" - this new and ominous term seemed to dominate phase 3 of the NHL's return to play. All over the league head coaches at press conferences were throwing out this phrase. In the name of player privacy even more speculation than usual lingered over each and every absence. The Bruins were hit as well by the dreaded unfit-to-play bug. And while many of the instances were confirmed to be minor ailments, both leading scorer David Pastrnak and country mate Ondrej Kase were banished to isolation over potential exposure to COVID-19. Unfit-to-play will continue to create anxiety for NHL fans (and players and staff) each and every time the words are uttered. How many "unfit-to-plays" mean an end to this return to play experiment? Will any players or staff be adversely affected in the long term? Take a deep breath and a drink every time you hear it and let's all cross our fingers it all works out.


The NHLs unfit to play guidance is going to frustrate fans - @hildymac

Neely concedes COVID put a crimp in camp - Kevin Paul Dupont

The Bruins "Unfit" - Stanley Cup of Chowder


2. #BubbleLife - Bubble life, luxury prison, 5-star jail...all terms being used to describe the experience of high-end athletes sequestered for weeks or months away from civilization all in the name of completing the season. Creating the bubbles are an impressive feat and to do so in such a short time span is a testament to some very talented people and their ingenuity during a crisis. Not to mention a ton of money spent in an attempt to recoup two tons of money. However, the biggest takeaway looking at bubble life? Pro athletes are just giant kids! Video game consoles dominate the essential items identified by players as must-haves. The bubble has the look and feel of a 10U tournament weekend or a summer hockey school. Expect a game of hallway mini-sticks to break out at some point. Watch for an opposing team to call security on another being too loud late at night. At least there won't be any drunk parents destroying the lobby bar.


Bruins packing for bubble - Fluto Shinzawa

What are the Bruins packing - Kevin Paul Dupont

The bubble awaits - Fluto Shinzawa

Bubbles come to life - The Canadian Press

Matisse Thybulle of the 76ers vlogs about the NBA Bubble

3. David Pastrnak - David Pastrnak was missing at the start of camp. Then back. Then gone again for the duration. Much publicized at this point, his absence has everything to do with the current pandemic and league and team protocols put in place to keep everyone safe. The story has many angles. There is obviously the on-ice angle as no team wants to be missing their leading scorer. Earlier this week, we looked at the impact an absence or sluggish start could have on the Bs chances. Questions already linger regarding Pasta's ability to have a great playoff after having an injury-hampered and just good one last year. But Pastrnak's decisions were also brought into question by team management in his absence. There was even a Tyler Seguin comparison on twitter... 🤦‍♂️


David Pastrnak in quarantine - Fluto Shinzawa

Neely wishes Pastrnak had made different decisions - Joe Haggerty

Playoff pressure on David Pastrnak - Joe Haggerty

Linemates not concerned by Pastrnak's absence - Joe Haggerty

Neely shares Pastrnak and Kase not to participate until Toronto - Stanley Cup of

Chowder


Update: Pastrnak traveled with the team and is back on the ice in Toronto!

4. Trade Deadline Acquisitions - In addition to Pastrnak's absence, Ondrej Kase also missed almost all of Phase 3 due to possible exposure to COVID-19. Fellow trade deadline acquisition Nick Ritchie missed some time with a presumed injury. Both were acquired to round out the middle 6 with Kase originally expected to give David Krejci another skilled line mate and Nick Ritchie expected to add power and some scoring touch alongside Charlie Coyle on the third line. Kase and Ritchie continue to be absent, missing the Bs first practice in the bubble. What will the Bruce Cassidy do with his line-up if neither are ready to go or continue to struggle, as they did pre-pause, to adapt to their new surroundings?


9 Bruins players missing from practice - Fluto Shinzawa

Kase 'chasing it a bit' - Joe Haggerty


5. Jack Studnicka, Karson Kuhlman, and Anders Bjork - The absences of several key players left an opportunity for Jack Studnicka, Karson Kuhlman, and Anders Bjork to showcase themselves and audition for potential key roles in the Bruin's top 6. All three received shifts with the Bergeron or Krejci lines throughout camp. It seems Cassidy may prefer the two youngsters as fill-ins high in the line-up in order to keep Charlie Coyle down at 3C. The three are unnroven at best, with Kuhlman having played 36 NHL games totaling 11 points, while Studnicka has 2 games played with 1 point. Kuhlman's name seemed to drop a little from conversation as camp progressed. Studnicka did receive some high praise from a teammate.

Anders Bjork, 23 years old, is the veteran of the group with 108 games and 34 points to his name following a strong career at Notre Dame and good showings over short spurts in Providence. He is the likely fill-in off-the-jump.


Opportunities open for young Bruins Studinka, Kuhlman, and Bjork - Steve Conroy

The trickle down effect of missing players - Fluto Shinzawa

Scrimmage observations amidst continued absences - Fluto Shinzawa

Reflections on Bruin's scrimmage - Joe Haggerty

Jack Studinka receives comparisons to young Bergeron - Kevin Paul Dupont

Anders Bjork looks set to breakout in playoffs - Blackandgold

Looking at possible Marchand substitutes on the top line - Evan Marinofsky


6. Torey Krug Free Agency - Torey Krug, the Bruin's leading point producer from the back end, will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this bizarre season. The Bruins' cap situation does not make it easy to keep Krug, who will command top dollar. Despite a flat cap and economic uncertainty, defensemen with Krug's offensive panache and reliable defending rarely get to the open market. Nearing 30, this is also likely Krug's big opportunity for a massive pay day. The Bruins' have some aging veterans and one wonders how long they can keep this core together and how long the current core's Stanley Cup window will remain open. If Krug has a big playoff he may in a sense guarantee his departure from the city of Boston.

Krug acknowledges time with Boston could be nearing it's end - Fluto Shinzawa

With free agency looming, Krug understands the risks - Kevin Paul Dupont

Swan song for Torey Krug? - Steve Conroy

Krug presses on despite uncertain future - Steve Conroy


7. HOCKEY IS BACK!!!! (fingers crossed....)


What story lines did we miss or are you looking forward to in the coming weeks? Let's get a conversation going below in the comments!


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