Tuesday, April 16

After a needed break, the Bruins are prepped for a packed second half – The Boston Globe


The five-day break for the All-Star Game will be the last time the Bruins get to rest as they stare down a stretch of 39 games over 81 days, starting Tuesday night at TD Garden against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We know what to expect for sure,” said Bergeron. “I think everyone on the team, whether it’s me personally addressing the team but also the coaching staff, I think we have a better understanding of what’s coming now.”

When the Bruins returned to Warrior Ice Arena on Monday, coach Bruce Cassidy saw a team that benefited from the time away from the ice. Brad Marchand had time to let his injured shoulder heal.

“Guys got away, we had an extended run there of a lot of hockey, so good break for them, the physical part of it,” Cassidy said. “I think mentally they were in a good place. The game was going well, so that part of it they didn’t need as much as maybe the Christmas [break]. So we’ll see.”

Goalie Linus Ullmark was able to get a breather after starting four straight games to close out the first half. Erik Haula is back from COVID protocols. Trent Frederic and Nick Foligno were both available Tuesday.

“This is the healthiest we’ve been up front,” Cassidy said. “I think all 14 guys are eligible tonight to play whether it’s COVID or injuries. So, create a little competition in the lineup. See if that makes us better too.”

Unsurprisingly, Bergeron said finding time to rest becomes more important with a cramped schedule.

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“Rest is definitely a weapon when you’re playing that many games in a short amount of time,” said Bergeron, who’s played 42 of 43 games and logged 775 minutes on the ice. “To me, it’s just making sure your sleep, you’re taking care of that, you’re eating the right thing and that’s it.”

The Bruins will also have to manage their practice schedule carefully.

“As far as practices go, you go with what’s available without making it too much,” Bergeron said. “So I think there’s a fine line there and there’s a balance you have to find. I think we’ve done a good job talking with the coaching staff to find ways to make it work for everybody.”

Heinen set for Boston reunion

Bruce Cassidy recognized all the pros in Danton Heinen’s game over the nearly four years Heinen spent in Boston to start his career — he was a versatile and coachable player as well as a good teammate.

He did so much that the load might have been unmanageable over a long year that pushed into the postseason.

“He was a good player for us,” Cassidy said. “Played his offside, could move up with Bergy and Marsh. I don’t know if he could sustain that over time in the playoffs. That was a challenge. It would be a challenge for anybody to be honest with you.”

Trading Heinen to Anaheim in February 2020 for Nick Ritchie was a matter of finding a better fit for the lineup.

“We just felt we needed a little more heaviness in our lineup,” Cassidy said. “I don’t think it was anything against Dan’s play, per se.”

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Heinen spent parts of two seasons with the Ducks before landing with the Penguins this season. As Bruins crossed paths with the organization’s fourth-round pick in 2014, Cassidy could still see the value Heinen can bring to a team.

“He’s a good guy to have in your lineup to move around, especially with the amount of injuries you have [and] COVID,” Cassidy said. “At times it’s even better because guys are dropping the day of a game, too. So he’s a guy that didn’t need a lot of coaching to go up in a lineup. He’s a cerebral player as well.

“So, happy to see him doing well in Pittsburgh. Like I said, he’s a good kid. He was a good teammate here, guys are still friends with him. It was just one of those moves we made to try to add an element to our team and unfortunately had to give up a good player to do it.”

Line ‘em up

With Haula back on the ice, Cassidy was able to restore the lines that jump-started the Bruins in January. Haula centered the second line with Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. Craig Smith moved back to the top line with Bergeron and Marchand. Charlie Coyle pivoted Jake DeBrusk and Oskar Steen on the third line.

Foligno, who hadn’t played since Jan. 24, was also back in the lineup on the third line with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar. Foligno was also on the power-play unit.

“We want to make an effort to get Nick as many reps as possible,” Cassidy said. “We wanted to give them a longer period of time to figure out what the best fit was [and] balance that.”

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Julian Benbow can be reached at [email protected].

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