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Bruins pregame: Daniel Paille cleared for return, Chad Johnson starts in net

03.15.14 at 12:33 pm ET

Winners of seven straight, the Bruins will welcome back one forward and another making his NHL debut. Bruins coach Claude Julien announced before Saturday’s game with Carolina that Daniel Paille, who has missed the last five games with concussion symptoms, has been cleared to return to game action.

Asked if he will be available and will play, Julien was more coy with reporters pre-game.

“Could be,” Julien said with a smile. “Probably. You’ll have to make some deductions. right? I have to keep you guys on your toes. I’m too predictable.”

Chad Johnson will make his 18th start in net for the Bruins after Tuukka Rask started both games of the back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday in Montreal and home against Phoenix.

The other big story Saturday is the NHL debut of 23-year-old forward Matt Linblad, a Friday call-up from Providence.

“It’€™s pretty special,” Julien said. “I’€™m sure he’€™s dreamed of playing in the NHL, and exhibition games are one thing, and this is the real deal right now. But at the same time, I think he’€™s earned it. He’€™s played really well. I liked his training camp, I liked his, again, his hockey knowledge and his hockey IQ.

“Hockey sense is always an important part of any player at this level, and he has that. He’€™s a smart individual, so you put that with the good skater that he he is, and it makes for a pretty decent player. So we have high hopes for him and there’€™s an opportunity for him to show he’€™s gotten better over the course of the season.”

During pre-game warmups, Linblad was skating on the fourth line with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, leaving Shawn Thornton as the odd man out.

Julien also announced that, after playing in three straight games, defenseman Andrej Meszaros would get the day off, giving Torey Krug more time on the blue line as well as the power play.

“There’€™s going to be some changes here as we go along, and I think [Meszaros] has played three straight games and we’€™ve continued to work with him,” Julien said. “So, we certainly don’€™t want to let our other players that have been here be pushed aside because of trades. So it’€™s just managing that whole back end.”

Here is the remainder of Julien press conference before Saturday’s game with Carolina:

On what he’€™s seen from the Carolina Hurricanes this season: “Well, they play a real aggressive game. They forecheck really hard, their D’€™s are very active on the forecheck, even through the neutral zone, they like to play it tight. So for us, we’€™ll have to have our feet moving and we’€™ll have to get pucks past them and get those pucks in deep and play our game, as you often hear me say. But they’€™re a team, again, still battling for a playoff spot, and nobody gives up at this time of year, and every point becomes important for those types of teams. So I’€™ve said that many times ‘€“ although there seems to be games that should be easier than others, there’€™s not. Whether it’€™s a team fighting for a playoff spot or a team that’€™s definitely out with guys fighting for their jobs, it just makes for some real tough teams throughout the last month of the season. So we’€™re no different right now. We like where we are in the standings, and to be able to stay there, you got to continue to play well.”

On making sure players [like Meszaros] stay conditioned when they don’€™t play every day: “Any time a guy doesn’€™t play on a regular basis, it’€™s always a little tougher, but I think for [Andrej Meszaros], it’€™s just getting used to our base and our game. And everybody here ‘€“ I’€™m not going to say does extra, but everybody here, when they don’€™t play, does things to stay up with the pack. And you got those guys that play every night that their conditioning is up there, but the guys that don’€™t play the same amount of minutes as our top guys and guys that don’€™t play do what it takes to stay with that pack that’€™s up there. So they got to do a little extra, and that goes on throughout the whole year, so it’€™s not just now or at a different time. It’€™s throughout the whole year, and that’€™s how we maintain our conditioning throughout our whole team, is that we have to have everybody in top shape, and it means the bottom guys sometimes have to do a little extra to keep up to the top guys.”

On how the play of defenseman Johnny Boychuk has evolved this season: “Yes, I have ‘€“ I think at one point there, there was games where I just thought he was OK, and he’€™s been really good lately. And he and Bart [Matt Bartkowski] have turned out to be a pretty decent pair. They’€™re getting to know each other better all the time, but in Johnny’€™s case, as I had mentioned to him, it’€™s him and Zdeno [Chara] that were experienced guys back there, so we needed him to be better than he was. So he’€™s certainly captured that message and taken it to heart and done exactly what we’€™ve asked.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Chad Johnson, Claude Julien, Daniel Paille
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