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Big, Bad Looch out for Bruins tonight, Nokelainen cleared for contact

Posted By Joe Haggerty On March 3, 2009 @ 12:22 pm In General | No Comments

B’s left winger Milan Lucic will miss his second straight game tonight with an “upper body injury” suffered during last Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks, and is still day-to-day with the injury. The medical issue with Lucic is believed to be a minor jaw/concussion-type issue that originally made him questionable for tonight, and he’ll remain a possibility for Thursday night against the Coyotes.

The versatile Matt Hunwick is expected to move up again from his defenseman position and will skate with Marc Savard and Phil Kessel on the top line against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“He won’t play tonight, but he’s certainly day-to-day and doing better,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “We’ll probably get Matt (Hunwick) again to play wing. His speed is certainly an asset up there, but he’s also not afraid to go to the dirty areas.”

Fourth line grinder Petteri Nokelainen was also cleared for contact by doctors this morning after suffering a nasty eye injury following an uncalled high-sticking infraction against the San Jose Sharks back on Feb. 10. Nokelainen took a stick to the right eye — and just above the eye — and is still taking eye-drop medication that is slightly blurring his vision. But the Finnish forward expects his vision to eventually improve back to 100 percent after getting the happy news Tuesday morning from a team of eye specialists.

“It was unbelievable,” said Nokelainen. “All of the news is positive and everything is coming back at 100 percent, so I’m really, really happy. With the two eyes, I can’t even tell the difference any more. I can see perfectly again.

“I’ve been able to skate and get my conditioning back, and now it’s up to the coach’s choice whether I play in a game or not,” added Nokelainen. “The next step is to play in a game.”

–Julien said that he understands the level of uncertainty and uneasiness that comes with the NHL trade deadline approaching tomorrow afternoon, but the players were loose enough to pull an old funny one with Claude the coach this morning. Players hooted and hollered that their head coach must have been traded when Julien was a few minutes tardy skating out onto the ice for this morning’s skate at the TD Banknorth Garden.

“I think I came on to the ice a couple of minutes and the players were saying that I was the one that had been traded, so they’re willing to joke about it and stuff,” said Julien. “They hear the same rumors as everybody else and they just go about their jobs. I think that’s a good way to approach it.”

No word on how loudly Chuck Kobasew, Mark Stuart and Phil Kessel were pushing the Julien trade rumors out there.

Trade whispers continue to gain volume around a depth defenseman (Derek Morris, Jordan Leopold) that could slot into the fifth or sixth spot in the lineup and a gritty forward capable of providing the little things needed amidst the long seven-game Stanley Cup battles. 

“Everybody knows that if you get moved from one place to another that you’ll obviously miss your teammates, but you adjust to a new place,” added Julien. “The worst thing is you keep moving your families around, and there’s a lot of things attached to a trade that make it tough. Right now, we’ve got something good going on, and everybody in that dressing room wants to be a part of it.”


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