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Kessel not practicing, should be 100 percent for Game 2

05.02.09 at 12:35 pm ET

WILMINGTON — Phil Kessel wasn’t on the practice ice for the Bruins Saturday morning at Ristuccia Arena, but B’s coach Claude Julien indicated that the young sniper was simply taking a day off after banging his left elbow during the second period of Game 1. Kessel took a hit in the corner and landed hard on his left elbow. He had an ice bag wrapped around the area while walking through the Bruins dressing room this morning after practice.

The 22-year-old dusted himself off to set up Boston’s second goal of the game on a Marc Savard rebound shot, and then played the rest of the game without any problem. Julien indicated that Kessel would be back in the lineup for Sunday night’s Game 2.

“Phil’s okay,” said Julien. “When he fell (Friday) he banged his blow. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a little swollen this morning, so we kept him off (the ice). He’ll be 100 percent tomorrow.”

–A lot more talk about the goaltender crowding/bumping that took place in Game 1, and that the B’s expect it to be a favored Hurricanes tactic for the duration of the playoff series. The aggressive Carolina skaters zeroed in on Thomas between the pipes in Game 1 — to the point of earning themselves a goaltender interference call immediately after they scored their one and only goal — and are hoping to drive “Tank” to distraction much like they did with New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur during the last round.

Right now it looks as if Ryan Bayda (5-foot-11, 185-pounds), Tuomo Ruutu (6-foot, 200-pounds) and Erik Cole (6-foot-2, 205-pound) will be the bodies of choice used to make Thomas’ life more difficult, but it’s something the Black and Gold skaters are prepared for in defending their turf.

“That’s what they do,” said Bruins winger Michael Ryder. “They throw bodies in front to try to cause traffic and get rebounds, and they’re going to do that. It’s a matter of us being strong in front of our net defensively. Against Jersey and Brodeur they were doing the exact same thing and I think they banged into him a couple of times too. We know they’re going to come to the net and we just have to be strong in that area.”

–A scoring change from Game 1 that was announced at practice on Saturday morning. The Bruins first goal was credited to back to Aaron Ward, who fired a long shot at the point that was originally credited to center David Krejci during the first period on Friday night. It didn’t appear that Krejci changed the trajectory of the puck as it hurtled toward the net, so now Krejci and Ryder have the assists. And Ward has his playoff goal against his former team.

–There was actually a Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake sighting at Bruins practice on Saturday morning. When I first saw the bleach blonde hair and the tight white UnderArmor T-shirt I thought it was Randy “The Ram”, but Brutus still looks like he could get in the ring and lock down a few sleeper holds if he really wanted to. Mr. Beefcake is a friend to one of the members of the B’s training staff, and was observing as a guest of the club. No word on whether he gave out any unwanted haircuts following practice. 

–Finally, a big thanks to reader Hockey Joe for sending this along. Here’s our favorite mullet-headed hockey analyst, Barry Melrose, on the Worldwide Leader stating that Carolina has more talent up-front on their roster than Boston heading into the semifinal series. He also calls the Vezina-bound Thomas a “small question mark” in the series. Perhaps this is why Steve Stamkos took out a restraining order against the Pinstriped Bandit in Tampa Bay before Melrose was mercifully gassed by Bolts ownership this season.

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