P.J. Axelsson, Mark Recchi , Marc Savard , Michael Ryder  and Stephane Yelle were missing from Thursday morning skate at the “for now” TD Banknorth Garden , but all are expected in the lineup. It appears that Claude Julien  will be choosing between Blake Wheeler /Byron Bitz and Shane Hnidy/Steve Montador when he fills out the roster for Thursday night’s Game One. Obviously no Andrew Ference  on the ice as well, so he’ll be out for Game One and — most likely — Game Two at the least.
–A great deal of Georges Laraque talk in the Boston dressing room after the skate. The Montreal media attempted to get numerous players to comment on Laraque’s interview on a Canadian radio station (CKAC Sports) earlier this week.
Listed below are the Greatest Hits from the man that B’s fans affectionately call BGL. It’s pretty obvious the Habs are attempting to get into the B’s heads and provoke them into crossing over the line and taking penalties in the series. Tons of questions from the Canadian media — who migrated in flocks here with no Ottawa and no Toronto in the playoffs — about whether the B’s crossed the line in their last regular season meeting, and if the Canadiens will be able to keep “poking the bear in the cage” to earn PP time in the postseason.
Shawn Thornton  wasn’t having any of it.
“Maybe it’s a game plan (for Montreal), but I don’t think it’s going to work. I was second on the team in PIMs and I think I can count on one hand the amount of minor penalties I took this year. We’re not just a bunch of meat sticks out there,” said Thornton. “We’re not the Big Bad Bruins that everybody makes us out to be. We can actually play hockey, and that’s what we going to do out there: play hockey.”
“When we dropped the gloves in Montreal, I fell. I’m out of (Thornton’s) league. He’s way too small for me. Actually, some of his teammates told me he was shaking in his boots before the game. He really didn’t want to face me. If he wants to dance in Boston it will be my pleasure to go with him. I’ll make sure the crowd quiets down really fast.”
“Of course I’d like to also fight with Milan Lucic  and Zdeno Chara  but I have to be careful. In the playoffs they’ll eject you immediately.”
“I have never seen a team get roughed-up as badly as the Bruins roughed us up last week. I’m sure that if they play that kind of hockey during the playoffs, guys will get suspended. I understand why they played that way, they didn’t want to face us in the first round, they wanted to face the Panthers.”
Use this link in order to get a full transalation.
Laraque is expected to be in Boston’s lineup tonight, and the tough guy enforcer is obviously there to stir things up and try to provoke players like Thornton, Lucic and Chara.
UPDATE: Montreal GM and coach Bob Gainey  alluded to Laraque’s presence in the lineup — and the possibility of BGL dropping the gloves — during his Thursday morning pregame comments:
“I think that Georges is an experienced player and he’s been in the league a long time,” said Gainey. “He understands himself and I think we’d like him to be a positive player for us in a lot of ways. Part of his toolbox contains a big, rough physical player, who can fight. I would expect that he’s going to bring a full toolbox with him to the game tonight.”
Should be interesting, but don’t expect the Bruins skaters to play into the Habs’ hands and turn Game One into Fight-fest at the Garden.