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Chris Kelly skates, Johnny Boychuk back at practice

01.13.14 at 10:11 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins center Chris Kelly skated on his own and worked with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides prior to Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Claude Julien said after the practice that Kelly has been skating since last week but is not close to a return.

Johnny Boychuk was also back on the ice after leaving the team’s California road trip to return home for personal reasons. Those reasons were born 2:27 am and 2:57 am Monday, as Boychuk and his wife welcomed twins to their family. The only player missing from practice was defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who was being evaluated by team doctors following practice.

Kelly, who skated for roughly 20 minutes, has been out since Dec. 7 with a broken fibula suffered on a slash from Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis. It is the second significant injury of Kelly’s career, as he missed a little less than a month with a broken tibia last season.

The Bruins said at the time of Kelly’s injury that he was expected to miss four to six weeks, so his return to the ice a little over five weeks in would seem to put him on pace to return within that timetable. Kelly had returned from last season’s injury sooner than the team expected, but he said that he learned in his recovery this season that he couldn’t push it as much.

With Kelly out, the Bruins have relied on rookie Ryan Spooner to center the team’s third line.

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Bruins send Matt Fraser to Providence

01.12.14 at 9:12 pm ET
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The Bruins announced Sunday night that they have sent forward Matt Fraser back to Providence. Fraser was recalled last month after the Bruins lost two forwards to injury and Shawn Thornton to a suspension in the team’s Dec. 7 meeting with the Penguins.

Fraser, 23, had two goals and no assists to go with an even rating. Playing mostly on the team’s third line, Fraser also had a pair of fights, but had just one shot on goal over his last six games. He was made a healthy scratch Saturday with the return Loui Eriksson and Thornton.

In 23 games for Providence this season, Fraser has 16 goals and five assists for 21 points.

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Bruins get a boost with return of Loui Eriksson

01.12.14 at 2:58 am ET
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Claude Julien‘s lineup is getting closer and closer to back to normal.

The loss of Dennis Seidenberg will be felt for the rest of the season, but the Bruins saw some familiar faces Saturday night as Loui Eriksson returned from a concussion and Shawn Thornton came off his 15-game suspension. Eriksson made an immediate impact, firing a shot from the high slot that bounced off Scott Hannan’s skate to Carl Soderberg in the third period of a scoreless game against the Sharks. Soderberg put it in for the game’s only goal, with Eriksson receiving the primary helper.

It’s obviously been a trying season for the Bruins, who have had seven different players miss at least seven of the team’s 45 games thus far due to injury in addition to Thornton’s suspension. Yet their roster is slowly taking shape again, as Chris Kelly (broken right fibula) is now the last available piece the team is waiting on. He’s expected back sometime this month, but it’s been a tougher recovery for Kelly than he expected.

[Johnny Boychuk also missed Saturday's game, but it was due to a personal matter, so he can be expected to be back in the lineup in short order.]

It’s Kelly’s line that figures to provide the most intrigue once he is ready. With Reilly Smith remaining stable as a table on Patrice Bergeron‘s line, the Bruins elected to play Eriksson on the third line Saturday after Eriksson had played exclusively on Bergeron’s line when healthy this season.

Saturday’s third line consisted of Ryan Spooner between Eriksson and Soderberg. The Soderberg-Kelly-Smith line was very good for the Bruins when it played together, so the B’s can take the coming games to determine just what kind of look they want to get from their third line as they await Kelly’s return. Perhaps surprisingly, the amount of good options leaves them with far better third line prospects than they had a season ago.

The silver lining in this injury-plagued season for the Bruins is that Eriksson is the only top-six player to miss time with an injury this season. Milan Lucic missed Tuesday’s game in Anaheim due to food poisoning, but the top line of David Krejci between Lucic and Jarome Iginla has played together for every other game. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith have yet to miss a game.

With Thornton back, the Bruins sent Justin Florek to Providence after three strong performances in his first taste of the NHL. Florek factored into Bruins goals in all three games he played, providing a screen for a Torey Krug goal against the Jets last Saturday, assisting Daniel Paille‘s second-period goal on Tuesday and scoring his first career NHL goal Thursday against the Kings. The big 23-year-old likely won’t have a job in Boston without injuries, but he definitely used the tail end of Thornton’s suspension (as well as a Jordan Caron back injury) to show that he can be an NHL fourth-liner.

As for why the Bruins elected to send Florek down rather than Caron, there’s no use in losing a player when you don’t have to. That’s the risk the B’s would have taken had they attempted to assign Caron to Providence, as he would have needed to clear waivers first. Considering the player that stays will be a healthy scratch anyway, it wouldn’t make much sense to lose Caron just so Florek could not play up in Boston.

Despite him surviving the cut this time, keep an eye on Caron going forward, as Spooner might have cemented a spot on the NHL roster by the time Kelly returns, and depending on how many defensemen the B’s have up, the Bruins might be forced to expose Caron to waivers once Kelly’s ready or perhaps sooner. The B’s invested a first-round pick in Caron in 2010, and though he his a strong defensive player who is a valuable penalty killer, his lack of an offensive game could eventually make him expendable.

From offense to defense to backup goaltender, there have been plenty of moving parts with this Bruins roster this season. Through it all they stand second in the Eastern Conference with 60 points, so despite it not always being pretty, they’ve been able to manage.

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Bruins end road trip with shutout win over Sharks

01.12.14 at 1:07 am ET
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Loui Eriksson returned to the Bruins lineup Saturday and helped deliver the team’s only win of a three-game California road trip as the B’s beat the Sharks, 1-0. The win was just the second regulation win of the season for an opponent at the SAP Center.

With the game scoreless late, Eriksson fired a shot from the high slot that deflected off Scott Hannan’s skate and down low to new linemate Carl Soderberg, who buried it to finally get the Bruins on the board.

Eriksson, who had been playing on Patrice Bergeron‘s line when in the lineup this season, returned from his second concussion of the season Saturday and played on the third line with Soderberg and Ryan Spooner.

Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, stood tall after rocky outings against the Ducks and Kings to outduel fellow Finnish Olympian Antti Niemi. The shutout was Rask’s league-leading fifth of the season.

The game saw the return of Eriksson and Shawn Thornton to the lineup after both players missed the last 15 games due to a concussion and a suspension, respectively. The Bruins were without Johnny Boychuk, who was back in Boston to tend to a personal matter.

The Bruins will return to Boston to face the Maple Leafs on Tuesday before heading back out on the road to face the Stars and Blackhawks next week.


- This was a big bounce-back game from Rask, who had either allowed five goals or been pulled in four of his last five starts entering Saturday night. Perhaps the fact that he was facing his competition for the starting gig in Sochi next month got him to raise his game. Either that or it was the fact that good goalies can’t stay cold forever.

- Milan Lucic drew a pair of penalties Saturday night, getting held by Scott Hannan in the second period and drawing the same infraction on Jason Demers in the third. Unfortunately for the B’s, they didn’t end up with anything to show for those power plays.

- The second period has been a problem child for the Bruins this season, but they held the Sharks without a shot on goal for the second half of the period.


- The B’s managed zero shots on goal in their first two power plays and, in going 0-for-3 on the night, have now gone five games without a power play goal. The Bruins were getting strong production out of both power play units in December, but that seems like a distant memory now.

Ryan Spooner remained on the second power play unit despite the return of Eriksson, which is probably a good move on Claude Julien‘s part given how well that unit’s been able to move the puck with Spooner at times.

- You don’t see Patrice Bergeron have a rough go of it too often in the faceoff dot, but Bergeron went 11-for-27 Saturday.

Bruins activate Loui Eriksson, send Justin Florek to Providence

01.11.14 at 9:50 pm ET
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The Bruins activated Loui Eriksson from injured reserve and sent forward Justin Florek to Providence Saturday.

The move allows Eriksson to return to the lineup after missing the last 15 games with his second concussion of the season.

Florek, who was recalled last week to play in place of Jordan Caron, played very well on the fourth line for the B’s over the last three games. The 6-foot-4 winger provided a screen on a Torey Krug goal, assisted a Daniel Paille goal over the first two games of his callup and scored his first NHL goal Thursday against the Kings.

Florek will likely be replaced by Shawn Thornton against the Sharks as Thornton returns from a 15-game suspension.

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In case you missed it, Dougie Hamilton took a strange penalty

01.10.14 at 2:42 pm ET
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If you were asleep by the second period of Thursday’s game between the Bruins and Kings, you likely missed Dougie Hamilton take an unusual and ill-advised penalty.

At the expiration of a tripping penalty he had taken late in the first period, Hamilton played the puck as it was going by the penalty box. The issue was that both of Hamilton’s feet were still in the box. They remained there on an interference call until Justin Williams scored a power play goal.

Our pal Greg Wyshynski at PuckDaddy has a rather amusing blog on Hamilton’s infraction, in which he calls it the “dumbest penalty of the season” and sites Rule 56.2, which one would figure should be common sense:

A minor penalty shall be imposed on any identifiable player on the players’€™ bench or penalty bench who, by means of his stick or his body, interferes with the movements of the puck or any opponent on the ice during the progress of the play. In addition, should a player about to come onto the ice, play the puck while one or both skates are still on the players’€™ or penalty bench, a minor penalty for interference shall be assessed.

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Tuukka Rask pulled as Kings best Bruins

01.10.14 at 1:12 am ET
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Tuukka Rask was pulled for the third time in his last 10 starts as the Bruins fell to the Kings, 4-2, Thursday in Los Angeles.

The loss was the Bruins’ second of their three-game west coast road trip, and they’ll look to salvage something from the trip when they close it out Saturday in San Jose. The B’s have now lost five of their last six games on the road.

Jeff Carter scored the only goal of the first period, but two goals in the first 1:45 of the second from Justin Williams (on the power play) and Alec Martinez, respectively, led to Chad Johnson being called upon in relief of Rask. Johnson would allow one goal in a little less than two periods of play.

The Bruins got all of their scoring from their bottom six, as Matt Fraser one-timed a feed from Carl Soderberg past Jonathan Quick at 9:55 of the second to make it 3-1. After Dustin Brown made it 4-1 at 12:22 of the third, Justin Florek scored his first career NHL goal to bring the B’s back within two.

The game was the last of Shawn Thornton‘s 15-game suspension, meaning he will be eligible to return for Saturday’s game.


- Though the results aren’t exclusively tied to the injury, Tuukka Rask has had a rough go of it since the Bruins lost Seidenberg for the season. In five starts since Seidenberg went down, Rask has been pulled twice in the second period after allowing three goals and has given up five goals in two others. Those aren’t the kind of numbers the Vezina favorite got used to putting up in the first half of the season.

- Patrice Bergeron is the best faceoff man in the NHL, so it isn’t often that you see him lose a faceoff cleanly in his own zone to lead to an opponent’s goal. That happened in the second period when Mike Richards beat him at the dot and drew the puck back to Regehr to set up Martinez’ goal.

- Here’s something you don’t see every day: Hamilton was called for playing the puck in the penalty box, as he began playing the puck as he got up at the expiration of a tripping penalty, but since his feet were still in the box, he was whistled for interference. Williams scored on the ensuing power play.

- Quick moved across his crease in speedy fashion to rob Soderberg with a blocker save in the opening minutes of the third period. It would have been a one-goal game had the Grade A opportunity gone in for the B’s. Quick also stopped Brad Marchand on a shorthanded breakaway with just under seven minutes to play.


- Hamilton turned in some impressive work in the neutral zone to start the play that led to Fraser’s goal. The second-year defenseman broke up a pass and then poked the puck through Martinez’ legs. From there, Soderberg carried the puck into the zone to feed Fraser, who fired off a strong one-timer to get the Bruins on the board.

- Milan Lucic returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with food poisoning. It wasn’t the prettiest return to the lineup, however, as his line was a minus-2 on the night.

- Florek’s been able to make an impact in his limited time in the Bruins’ lineup. So far he’s provided a screen on a Torey Krug goal, assisted a Daniel Paille tally and scored a goal of his own. The 6-foot-4 forward appears to be capable of playing as a fourth-liner in the NHL.

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