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Zdeno Chara to play Tuesday

12.31.13 at 12:41 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Islanders after missing Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury.

While there is no word on what kept Chara out Saturday, he was able to practice Monday and took part in Tuesday’s morning skate. Afterwards, he said that he doesn’t feel the injury will limit him once he’s back on the ice.

“I wouldn’t want to go out there and be kind of a weak link,” Chara said. “I feel that I can still contribute and play my game.”

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Shawn Thornton not taking appeal to independent arbitrator

12.31.13 at 12:12 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton will not appeal his 15-game suspension to a neutral arbitrator.

Thornton’s suspension for attacking Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7 was upheld by commissioner Gary Bettman last week, with Thornton having seven days to take the appeal to an independent arbitrator. Thornton has served 10 of his 15 games thus far and will be eligible to return to the lineup Jan. 11 in San Jose.

“I’m still not happy with the amount of games I got,” Thornton said. “I know I’m not a victim, but I’m not happy with the amount of games I got. But I respect the decision and I’d rather just move on mentally and focus on getting ready for the 11th instead of focusing on getting ready for another hearing.”

With Thornton choosing not to take the process further, there has still been no instances of players appealing suspensions to neutral arbitrators, which is allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement. Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension to Bettman in October but also declined to advance the process after his ban was upheld. The decision to not go further was made at the last minute by Thornton, who spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning weighing his options.

“I’d rather not be a distraction around here. I’d rather focus on getting ready for January 11, which is 12 days out now. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t an easy decision,” Thornton said. “I’ve been thinking about it for the last 36 hours, not much sleep, but I feel for the team it’s probably the right thing to do I guess at this point, not going through the whole process again for a third time.”

Numerous players throughout the league reached out to Thornton during his suspension to offer their support. Among them was Sharks forward Raffi Torres, who has been suspended four times by the league and was banned for a total of 21 games for a postseason hit on Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs.

Yet perhaps the most encouraging words Thornton got were from Orpik himself, as the two have been friends and offseason workout partners over the years. Upon returning to practice, Orpik defended Thornton to reporters, saying, “I think he knew he made a mistake and regretted it right away.”

“Well we’ve known each other for a long time,” Thornton said. “I said right after the fact that the outcome was not what was intended and I felt awful about it. That hasn’t changed, and we’ve talked. We talked that night. We were still friends after the fact that night. Talking [to him], that helped me through this a little bit, for sure.”

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Bruins recall Nick Johnson

12.31.13 at 10:47 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins recalled Nick Johnson from Providence on an emergency basis Tuesday, a suggestion that Carl Soderberg might not be able to play Tuesday night against the Islanders.

All Bruins were present for Tuesday’s morning skate, including Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton and Loui Eriksson. Chara is working his way back from an undisclosed injury, while Eriksson began skating Monday.

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Chris Kelly impatiently awaiting his return to Bruins lineup

12.30.13 at 7:48 pm ET
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Chris Kelly took the ice Monday night, but unfortunately for the injured Bruins forward, he wasn’t skating.

Instead he was standing on the ice at Fenway Park as some of his Bruins teammates took part in an open skate as part of Frozen Fenway. Rather than skates, Kelly was wearing the walking boot he’s had to wear since suffering a broken right fibula on a slash from Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis on Dec. 7.

Kelly says he hopes the boot will be off within a matter of days, but as he stands over three weeks from suffering the injury, he admits that his total time before returning to Boston’s lineup will be closer to six weeks, as Claude Julien had told reporters earlier Monday.

The Bruins had initially said that Kelly would miss four to six weeks. Given that he had returned from a broken tibia last season in less than a month, he expected a quicker recovery this time around than he’s had.

“When you’re told a date, you think you can come back quicker,” Kelly told WEEI.com. “[Last season's tibia injury] was one of those that was an injury that you could push, I found. As soon as I was diagnosed [this season], I said, ‘Oh, well I can make it back faster than that.’ Obviously with where the injury is, you can’t push it like the other one. This one might take time, and you need to be patient, but I’m not very patient.”

The good news is that Kelly has been exercising since suffering the injury. He was on the bike the next day, and though he knows there will be some adjustment back to the ice once the boot comes off, he’s at least been keeping in shape.

“I do everything,” Kelly said. “I started riding the bike regularly. We do the aerodyn bike, where I use my arms and my one good leg. And I do upper-body and legs as well.”

Dupuis slashed Kelly in the second period of the injury-laden Dec. 7 meeting between the B’s and Penguins. Kelly played the third period, thinking that the injury wasn’t serious.

“Not that bad,” Kelly said of what he thought at the time. “It hurt and I knew it hurt, but I played the rest of the game and it affected my stride in the third, but I thought maybe [it was] a bone bruise or something. You don’t think it’s broken when you can finish a game.”

Though the Bruins certainly could use Kelly, Ryan Spooner has adjusted to the NHL and has played well of late in his place. Given that this is the second injury to keep Kelly out weeks in his career and that Rich Peverley slid over to handle his duties in his place last season, it’s the first time Kelly has seen a young player step into his spot and perform well in his absence. Kelly says he’s happy to see that his line is in good hands.

“He has played extremely well,” Kelly said. “Spoons skates well and thinks the game well. He’s done a great job. All those young guys that have come in, it’s been great to see. I think when you’re looking at it from a fan’s aspect of how bright the future of this franchise is, you always want your farm system to have players that can step in. Not everyone has that luxury. We’re extremely lucky to have that.”

Read More: Chris Kelly, Pascal Dupuis,

Zdeno Chara: Dennis Seidenberg ‘such a big loss’ for Bruins

12.30.13 at 7:23 pm ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is working his way back from an undisclosed injury, but that isn’t the biggest concern on Boston’s blue line.

That would be the season-ending ACL/MCL tear to Dennis Seidenberg, who will have surgery on his knee and should be ready to go for the start of next season. In the meantime, the B’s are down their second-best defenseman and runner-up in time on ice.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Chara told WEEI.com. “I was on the bench when it happened, and we all saw what happened, and right there I kind of knew it was a very unlucky collision. He’s such a big loss for us. He’s a [guy] who’s playing in all situations, logging a lot of minutes. He’s a true warrior. To lose a guy like that always hurts, but it’s something that we’re going to have to play through. Obviously it’s going to be a chance for other guys to step up and fill that role.”

Seidenberg’s injury means that Chara will have a new postseason defense partner for the first time in a long time. Paired together from Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals and onward, Chara and Seidenberg have teamed to make up a formidable top pairing that has shut down the top lines of some of the most offensively loaded teams in the NHL on the way to two Stanley Cup finals appearances.

Likely candidates to replace Seidenberg as Chara’s postseason partner would appear to be Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk, both of whom have played plenty alongside Chara during the regular season. Yet Chara isn’t looking that far ahead. After all, Chara himself and Hamilton both need to get healthy before the Bruins’ back end can begin to look like its usual self.

“I mean, we’ll see,” Chara said. “We’re far from the playoffs this time of the year. Right now we’re just really trying to focus on getting guys back, which will hopefully be soon. When we get a full lineup, then we’re going to be feeling what the ice times and positions are going to be like. But we’re obviously trying to get through tougher times right now with the injuries we have.”

Chara practiced for part of Monday’s session, with Claude Julien telling reporters on hand that his status for Tuesday’s game against the Islanders has yet to be determined.

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara,

Bruins recall Kevan Miller to replace Dennis Seidenberg

12.30.13 at 10:15 am ET
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The Bruins on Monday recalled defenseman Kevan Miller on an emergency basis following Friday’s season-ending injury to Dennis Seidenberg.

Miller, 26, played nine games for the B’s before being sent to Providence on Dec 18. The former University of Vermont captain likely will spend the rest of the season with the B’s. Once he plays his 10th game, he would have to clear waivers before being sent back down.

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One of many U.S. Olympic roster projections

12.30.13 at 9:00 am ET
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The U.S. Olympic roster will be announced Wednesday at the Winter Classic, which means it’s time for everyone to make their roster projections. Mine is below. It’s worth noting that this isn’t necessarily who I think will make the team, but rather who I think should make it. It’s also worth noting that the roster announced Wednesday could end up changing due to injuries. Team USA will take 25 players to Sochi, and the assumption is that the breakdown will be 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies.

Forwards
Zach PariseRyan Kesler – Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty – David Backes – Bobby Ryan
Dustin Brown – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Jason Pominville, Ryan Callahan/Derek Stepan

The top three centers are pretty much interchangeable — all three can score, all three play defense and all three are strong on faceoffs. Parise and Kane are as good as it gets on the wing (although it’s worth mentioning that Parise is currently battling a foot injury). Kessel and van Riemsdyk already play together in Toronto, so it makes sense to keep them together here.

Pacioretty and Ryan give you a very good third scoring line. Brown has struggled this season, but I still like him as a fourth-liner. He and Oshie would be a bruising tandem. Stastny gets the nod over Stepan because he’s better on faceoffs and he’s been playing better recently. Read the rest of this entry »

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