The Boston Bruins continue to get nicked by the ongoing COVID surge.

With Coach Bruce Cassidy returning to the bench for the first time since going into COVID protocol on Nov. 29, the Bruins lost top-six wingers Brad Marchand and Craig Smith to COVID on Tuesday.

Smith’s placement was announced prior to the team’s morning skate while Marchand participated in the skate.

The standard quarantine period for players who test positive is 10 days, which would mean that Marchand and Smith would miss six games, including Tuesday’s contest against Vegas, and they’d be eligible to return the first game after the Christmas break, though it remains to be seen if they could jump right back into action after 10 days off the ice.

How the players may have contracted it is anyone’s guess, though they played in Calgary on Saturday. The Flames added three more players to the COVID list on Tuesday after putting six on it on Monday. Calgary has shut down through at least Thursday.

It is a reminder that any team can lose a player at any time. And on top of the obvious health concerns for the players, it could seriously affect a team’s fortunes if the league keeps playing the games.

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“You see what happened in Calgary and we were just there, so you wonder if there’s going to be a trickle (effect). All those things go into your head,” said Cassidy prior to the announcement of Marchand going into protocol. “But at the end of the day, you do your best to try to stay safe. Honestly, I don’t know how I got it. It can happen to anybody. I thought I was fairly safe as well. I was vaccinated. You just keep your fingers crossed with this. A guy like Smitty, hopefully it’s just minor side effects if he has any symptoms at all. I haven’t seen him today, obviously. But you just hope it doesn’t go through your team. You saw what happened to the Islanders. It can put you really behinds the 8-ball.”

But some of Cassidy’s fears came true with Marchand landing in COVID protocol.
When it appeared they would just be missing Smith, the first line was kept intact for the morning skate with Jake DeBrusk moving over to the right wing in Smith’s spot on the line with Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle.

With Marchand now out, Hall could move up to take his spot and DeBrusk could slide over to his left side somewhere in the lineup. Karson Kuhlman, the Bruins lone extra forward, could draw back in.

Like several teams around the league, the Bruins will be facing a challenge.

“It seems right now there seems to be a little bit of that going on around the league. We’re trying to do the right things and being careful, respecting the protocol and being professional about it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “But that being said, those are things we cannot control. It’s the reality of the last few years and that’s it. We have to concentrate on what we can control and that’s the way we play and who’s in the lineup. It’s always about, whoever is coming in, we have trust in them.”

The Bruins also have more to be concerned about later this week when they go to Canada for weekend games in Montreal and Ottawa. If they test positive while north of the border, they would have to quarantine in Canada for 14 days, meaning a player or staffer would be spending Christmas in a hotel room. Bergeron admittedly had yet to think about that.

“Knock on wood, I guess,” said the captain.


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