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Rask hurt in Bruins practice; Spooner out 4-6 weeks

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Well, the good news regarding injuries and the Boston Bruins didn’t last very long.

Earlier this week, PHT noted that forwards Patrice Bergeron and David Backes are expected to return in the near future, possibly as soon as Thursday. That’s great, but Wednesday turned out to be lousy thanks to one injury scare and one sure-thing that’s a negative.

The biggest concern is that of Tuukka Rask, and it’s something that might not clear up for a while. Rask was helped off the ice during practice today after being “bowled over” by young forward Anders Bjork.

The Bruins might dodge a bullet there, which would be huge if their backup work in anyway resembles the woes of 2016-17.

While we don’t know the severity of Rask’s issues just yet, there’s flat-out bad news for Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins estimate Spooner’s window of recovery at four-to-six weeks for a (cringe) “right groin adductor tear,” which he suffered on Oct. 15. Adam McQuaid suffered an injury in that same contest, so that could go down as a costly date for a Bruins team that has been fairly described as top-heavy.

Spooner, 25, was off to a slow start so far this season. He didn’t score a goal and managed one assist in five games, averaging 13:17 TOI per game. Even during that time, he was deployed in a very protected way, so the B’s can’t really claim that this is more than a body blow.

Even so, the Bruins might sport a patchwork lineup if Bergeron and/or Backes can’t play on Thursday. They’ll likely chalk it up as a win if Rask avoids anything significant, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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More signs point to Bruins getting Bergeron, Backes back soon

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Patrice Bergeron is one of the finest two-way centers of his generation, so it makes sense that the Boston Bruins would miss him.

That’s especially true since David Backes has also been sidelined, even if he’s aiming to rebound where Bergeron’s mainly looking to sustain.

While neither Bergeron nor Backes is guaranteed to suit up for the Bruins as they host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, there’s some promise in their returns merely being possible, as NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty notes.

It’s plausible that both might be less than 100 percent when they get back, and Backes might lack some of his power game considering his involuntary weight loss.

Even so, after struggling with Riley Nash in the top center spot, Backes and especially Bergeron serve as the Lebowski rug for the Bruins line combos, tying everything together in a far more satisfying way:

Brad Marchand-Bergeron-Anders Bjork
Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Tim Schaller-Nash-Backes
Matt BeleskeySean KuralyFrank Vatrano

Much better. Personally, I’d be tempted to move Vatrano into a better offensive opportunity, but an excess of options for head coach Bruce Cassidy sure beats glaring issues down the middle and in the top nine.

The Bruins might also feel a little more liberated to insert them back in the mix since their schedule is conducive to dipping their toes in the water. It’s pretty light for the rest of October, really:

Thu, Oct 19 vs Vancouver
Sat, Oct 21 vs Buffalo
Thu, Oct 26 vs San Jose
Sat, Oct 28 vs Los Angeles
Mon, Oct 30 @ Columbus

The Bruins could play Bergeron and/or Backes in just two games through Saturday, Oct. 28 and only have them miss two in the process. And so on.

All things considered, it says something about Boston’s system that the Bruins are still close to the top-10 in possession stats, even with a two-way monster like Bergeron among their missing pieces.

As PHT’s Joey Alfieri notes, it doesn’t absolve a 2-3-0 start, as the Bruins faced a relatively friendly schedule.

Still, the schedule is breaking in a way where the Bruins could ideally limit the damage if Bergeron and Backes can recover reasonably soon. Things can change with injuries – just note how optimism can turn to pessimism for, say, Zach Parise – but at the moment, there are some reasons to look at the glass as half-full.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bruins could sure use Patrice Bergeron right now

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The Boston Bruins are off to a 2-3-0 start this season, which probably isn’t ideal considering they had two games against Colorado (they were the worst team in the NHL last season), a game against Arizona (they aren’t very good) and another one against Vegas (they’re an expansion team).

Yes, the Avalanche are improved and the Golden Knights have been better than anyone anticipated, but the Bruins were a playoff team last season. They’ve got to better.

There’s no doubt that they miss center Patrice Bergeron, who’s been out for every game of the 2017-18 season so far with a lower-body injury.

Although the team hasn’t confirmed a return date for Bergeron, it sounds like Thursday’s game against Vancouver hasn’t been ruled out yet, per head coach Bruce Cassidy.

The Bruins will play just two games over the next 10 days, so that could be a way for them to ease him back into the lineup.

Heading into last night’s game against the Golden Knights, Riley Nash was centering the top line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Clearly, if Bergeron was healthy, he’d be in that role.

Boston’s top three centers (Nash, David Krejci and Ryan Spooner) have failed to score a goal during Bergeron’s absence.

“Right now, it’s ‘Listen, he’s not in, next man up,’ ” said Cassidy, per the Boston Herald. “I know it sounds simple. But we’ve got other guys in that locker room that have to get hungry and respond to the challenge of ‘Hey, I’m getting the chance to play key minutes.’”

They’ll have a good opportunity to bounce back from their mediocre start, as they’ll begin a four-game home stand starting Thursday night. They’ll host Vancouver, Buffalo, San Jose and Los Angeles over the next two weeks.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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Subban records first career NHL win — against his old team, the Bruins

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Talk about (another) milestone night for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Alex Tuch scored his first career NHL goal.

Vadim Shipachyov, making his highly anticipated debut for Vegas, also scored his first career NHL goal, which eventually turned into the winner against the Boston Bruins. (You can read about it here.)

— And finally, Malcolm Subban, the former Bruins goalie prospect, recorded his first career NHL victory, which was nearly a shutout until Boston spoiled that with a late goal from David Pastrnak.

It wasn’t the busiest night for Subban, as Vegas captured a 3-1 victory.

The Bruins played the previous night, didn’t have Patrice Bergeron in their lineup, and only tested the 23-year-old goalie with 22 shots on net. It was, for Subban, a tidy outing but did include a sharp pad save on a chance in close from noted goal scorer Brad Marchand. That kept the game scoreless, allowing for Vegas to take the lead later on.

On a more personal level for Subban, this win comes against the team that brought him into professional hockey. The Bruins selected him with the 24th overall pick in 2012. Since then, Subban had spent the majority of his pro career in the American Hockey League developing his game, while making two appearances for Boston.

He entered Bruins training camp in a battle for the back-up job behind Tuukka Rask, but that role ultimately went back to Anton Khudobin. That led Boston to put Subban on waivers and he was picked up by the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights are now 4-1 on the season, but their roster has undergone notable changes this weekend. Tuch and Shipachyov were recalled from the AHL and starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on injured reserve, giving Subban the opportunity to start against his former team.

Now, what will this mean for the Golden Knights going forward?

Maxime Lagace was on the bench tonight as the back-up, and Fleury is out for at least the next seven days. Vegas has two games this upcoming week, with three days in between those games, which are both at home. It would seem there is an opportunity for Subban to get into a rhythm with a stretch of games. For him, that would be another first at the NHL level.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Malcolm Subban expected to make Golden Knights debut — against the Bruins

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Just two weeks after being placed on waivers by the Boston Bruins, Malcolm Subban is expected to face his old team when they visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

The Golden Knights’ roster has seen significant changes since Friday’s loss to Detroit, with starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury going on injured reserve.

Training camp started with a competition for the back-up goalie position in Boston, with Subban and Anton Khudobin going for the job behind starter Tuukka Rask.

In the end, Khudobin was successful in keeping the job and the Bruins, who knew there was a risk of losing Subban, placed their 2012 first-round pick on waivers.

Subban, who has appeared in only two NHL games during his time with the Bruins, was then picked up by the Golden Knights.

“I think Malcolm has taken a step, and I’m not surprised in the situation. Vegas is doing what they’re trying to build… It’s disappointing,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, per WEEI. “We’ve had a lot of time invested in Malcolm, and we are seeing him grow as a person on and off the ice. It’s a loss for our hockey club. The system is in place for a reason.”

Subban is still searching for his first career NHL win. It would make quite a story if he achieved it against the team that drafted him.

For the Bruins, it’s been an up-and-down week. They dropped a pair of games to the Colorado Avalanche and were outscored badly (10-3) in the process, before going into Arizona and embarrassing the Coyotes on Saturday.

The Golden Knights started with three straight wins, but a bad third period against Detroit resulted in their first loss of their expansion season. Their lineup is expected to feature a few different pieces on Sunday.

Vadim Shipachyov, who boasted terrific numbers in the KHL throughout his career there and was officially recalled from AHL Chicago on Saturday after a few days of controversy amid reports he wanted to go back to Russia, is also expected to make his highly anticipated Golden Knights debut versus the Bruins.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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