Bruins resume practice, prepare to play Islanders on Thursday

The Boston Bruins haven’t played since earning a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres last Thursday and were paused for nearly an entire week due to coronavirus-related concerns that resulted in five players entering the league’s COVID-19 protocols list. 

Early Wednesday evening, the Bruins returned to the practice ice ahead of Thursday’s scheduled home game against the New York Islanders. 

Per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), Boston’s David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith were all cleared from the protocols list. Jake DeBrusk and Sean Kuraly were both on the list as of early Wednesday night, and coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that Kuraly won’t play Thursday, per Amalie Benjamin of the NHL’s website. 

Boston had two games postponed during the pause. 

“It felt like we were starting to turn the corner,” Cassidy said about the schedule disruption. “Even some injured guys were back skating. In the moment you’re like, ‘What now?’ And at the end of the day, it’s one of those years you have to kind of just grind through it.

“That’s the easiest way to say it. And then hopefully we continue where we left off. That’s the best way I look at it. Play the hand you’re dealt. Control what you can control. So that’s where we’re at now.”

Thursday’s matchup is set to become the first professional sporting event in Massachusetts to welcome paying spectators since leagues suspended seasons last March due to the pandemic. 

Despite having completed a division-low 28 games, Boston began Wednesday evening fourth in the NHL East standings with 36 points, four behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and two ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. The top four teams from each division earn playoff berths for the 2020-21 campaign. 

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