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Boychuck, Stuart and Bruins back to work

WILMINGTON — Most of the Bruins have had two weeks to get healthy and clear their heads during the Olympic break before the final stretch of that will determine whether there will be spring hockey in The Hub. The players were happy to get back to hockey related activities on Thursday at Ristuccia Arena and are gearing up for the stretch run into April. When the regular season resumes on March 2 the Bruins will be on a furious pace as the final 22 games will be played in 41 days with only one break longer than one day between games.

“I can’t think of a better way to get back into it than to just jump in and play a bunch of games,” Mark Stuart [1] said. “Looking at our schedule, it is every other day. But, it is going to be fun. It is going to be a month-and-a-half long Olympic tournament it seems like. Just playing every other day. But, the position we are in, we have to win a lot of games. It is going to feel like the playoffs, I think and that is always fun when it feels like that. We are looking forward to it.

Defenseman Johnny Boychuk [2] was back at practice for the first time since breaking his orbital bone when he took a puck to the face in the Bruins’ last home game before the break against Vancouver. He wore a visor and participated in the full workout. Fellow blue liner Stuart also skated for the first time since breaking a finger in a fight with the Kings’ Wayne Simmonds on Jan. 30 which required surgery on Feb. 1.

“I got the cast off on Tuesday, so that was a good feeling,” Stuart said. “It is just a matter of getting some of the stiffness out. I have got to get the hands and stuff going and I am not going to push the shooting too much right away. I will probably give it a couple of days, and passing and stuff like that was good.”

Stuart said the the break was not due to an impact of his hand on Simmonds or the ice but rather that he grabbed the jersey and torqued the finger in during the fight. He said that he will probably wear protective gear on the hand “for a bit” but does not seem overly concerned about his prospects for the rest of the season.

“The [Olympic] break came at the right time,” Stuart said. “It gave me time to bike and stuff. I was in the cast for a complete three weeks which was good and gave it time to heel and now it is just a matter of getting back on the ice.”

Coach Claude Julien [3] described both Boychuk and Stuart as day-to-day.

“Yeah, they are day-to-day. I think [Stuart] just got his cast taken off a few days ago. I don’t know what he did but he was stick handling better than ever. Done something special there with that finger,” Julien joked after practice. “He looked good and Johnny feels good.”

For his part, Boychuk knows that he was lucky that the puck caught him an inch outside of his eye.

“Back to normal, everything is fine. I have to wear a face shield though but that is fine,” Boychuk said. “I knew that I was pretty lucky when I saw the CAT scan … I knew there was a one-timer coming and I tried to just move, just shield for it but it caught me on the side of the mellon. I knew I got hit in the face and I couldn’t look out of the [injured] eye, but I looked out of the [good] eye and saw blood and got scared. It was really sore, for the next three days I couldn’t open my eyes. It was a black-eye and mushed together. The side of my head was like a baseball.”

With all the injuries the Bruins have sustained this year, Julien is just happy that the pair are just about healthy and ready to go.

“Anything that is healthy at this point is good,” Julien said. “We have had our share of injuries and inconsistency because of it. So, those two weeks will hopefully serve us well.”

Julien said that David Krejci [4] and Marco Sturm [5], the two of the six Bruins players who have been knocked out of the Olympics, will have until off until Sunday to get back to the team and into the swing of things.

Practice participation by sweater color:

White — Marc Savard [6], Daniel Paille [7], Mark Recchi [8]

Grey — Blake Wheeler [9], Michael Ryder [10], Vladimir Sobotka

Red — Shawn Thornton [11], Byron Bitz, Milan Lucic [12], Steve Begin

Defense — Boychuk, Stuart, Matt Hunwick, Dennis Wideman [13], Andrew Ference [14], Derek Morris [15]