Amid the Bruins’ 16-game point streak, coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t concerned about the team “peaking too early.’’
“We want to go out and win every game, right?’’ Cassidy said at Warrior Ice Arena after practice Monday morning. “So you win every game or get points every game, and then what? Like, you’re not supposed to do that because it’s a certain time of year?’’
With 17 games remaining on the schedule, the Bruins have positioned themselves to enter the playoffs as a fierce contender in the Eastern Conference. Boston has won 12 of its last 14 games, including an emphatic 4-1 victory over the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning last Thursday. Cassidy said he thinks the team can still be “harder to play against,’’ but he noted he’d rather address areas of improvement while they are winning.
Cassidy expects the veterans on the roster to set the tone moving forward.
“Things are going really good right now,’’ defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “It’s fun coming to the rink every day. As a team, things are going really well. We’re coming together in this last third of the season. We look forward to every game and keeping it going.’’
In hopes of avoiding fatigue down the line, Cassidy put the onus on the coaching staff to “use everybody’’ so that the Bruins are prepared to play their best hockey in April. He said the addition of center Charlie Coyle has already helped with balancing the minutes distribution, and he expects to keep things relatively balanced in the net as well.
Though he has mapped out the projected starting goaltender for the rest of the season, Cassidy couldn’t remember the exact split but estimated that Tuukka Rask will start 10 games and Jaroslav Halak seven. Halak will start against the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“We’re not going to run Tuukka into the ground, because Halak has played very well,’’ Cassidy said. “We’re fortunate.’’
Cassidy said the practice schedule will lighten up during March because of the intensity of the game schedule. He said it’s challenging to “push’’ the team at this point in the season, but there’s still room for little tweaks and corrections.
“Hopefully, we can get them in a good place,’’ Cassidy said. “Hopefully, when April comes, we’ll be playing even better.’’
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Forward Sean Kuraly, who entered concussion protocol after taking a big hit against the Lighting, is trending toward a Thursday return, Cassidy said. Kuraly skated in a red noncontact jersey Monday . . . Defenseman Kevan Miller (upper-body injury) did not practice and is considered week-to-week, as opposed to day-to-day, after an MRI found something unexpected. “It’s a little more serious than we first thought,’’ Cassidy said . . . Right winger David Pastrnak (thumb) skated and is still on schedule with his recovery. According to general manager Don Sweeney’s most recent update, Pastrnak will be in a cast for another week before getting fitted for a splint . . . Defenseman Zdeno Chara went down and left the ice after taking a puck to the face during practice. He did not receive stitches and is expected to be OK.