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Proactive Claude Julien says ‘nothing’s changed’ with Adam McQuaid 04.10.12 at 1:05 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid was once again absent from Bruins practice on Tuesday as he continues to deal with what the team is calling an upper-body injury.

Things got testy between coach Claude Julien and the media Monday regarding the defenseman’s status and what the identity of the injury, and on Tuesday Julien addressed injuries prior to taking questions.

“Guys, before we get going,” Julien said, “Injury update: It’s the same as yesterday. Nothing’s changed, and that’s where we are.”

McQuaid was initially hurt when he went into the end boards head-first in the Bruins’ March 29 game against the Capitals on a hit from Capitals winger Jason Chimera. The defenseman cut his eye on the play, which led to swelling. He tried to return last Thursday against the Senators while wearing a visor, but left the game in the second period. The team considers him to be day-to-day.

Johnny Boychuk (knee) and Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) both practiced Tuesday for the second consecutive day.

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Johnny Boychuk does everything as he returns to practice 04.09.12 at 1:37 pm ET
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Johnny Boychuk has been out since April 3. (AP)

WILMINGTON — Johnny Boychuk‘s sprained knee is feeling better, and that could mean a return to the lineup in time for the playoffs.

The veteran defenseman returned to practice with his teammates Monday, and in addition to feeling good physically said his conditioning has not fallen off since suffering his injury last week against the Penguins.

“I felt good out there,” he said. “Just wanted to get back practicing and see how it feels. It felt pretty good, so I’ll take it day-by-day.”

Boychuk wasn’t held back at all during the practice, as he took regular turns in line rushes and participated in the team’s physical 3-on-3 drills.

“There wasn’t really any limitations,” he said. “I went on the ice a little bit yesterday and it was a little sore, so I tried it out today with some tape and a nice knee brace and it felt better.”

Claude Julien says that Boychuk is still day-to-day, and with three days until the Eastern Conference quarterfinals begin against the Capitals, No. 55 aims to be in the lineup.

“I hope so,” he said. “We’ll see how it feels every day. The main thing is just to come back 100 percent and be at your best.”

The 28-year-old defenseman, who this season was signed to a three-year, $10.08 million extension, admitted that he thought his injury was worse at the time. Boychuk remained down on the ice after trying to hit Penguins forward Aaron Asham and was eventually helped off by teammates.

Said Boychuk: “When you’re on the ice and you’ve never felt that feeling before, you don’t want really want to get up and then ‘what if it was bad and I made it worse by getting up?’ That was the first reaction when I was on the ice at least.”

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Johnny Boychuk, Tuukka Rask present for first postseason practice at 10:48 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins held their first practice of the postseason Monday at Ristuccia Arena. Johnny Boychuk (knee) and Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) were both present for the skate, while Adam McQuaid (eye) was missing.

The lines are as follows:

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot – Chris Kelly – Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton

Jordan Caron served as the extra forward on the Campbell line. One could assume the final spot in the lineup will come down to Caron and Paille.

Boychuk took regular turns when the Bruins did line rushes early in the skate. Rask was moving around well, taking shots as one of three goaltenders on the ice. Tim Thomas and Anton Khudobin are the other two, as Marty Turco is ineligible because he signed after the trade deadline.

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Peter Chiarelli says Nathan Horton ‘a longshot’ to return this season, gives updates on Tuukka Rask, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid 04.08.12 at 1:01 pm ET
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Nathan Horton has not played since Jan. 22. (AP)

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said on a conference call Sunday that while he won’t rule Nathan Horton out for the season, the veteran winger is a “longshot” to play again this season after suffering his most recent concussion in January.

Horton began skating last week but has not yet been cleared for contact. Chiarelli noted that Horton is “quite far off right now” as he still has occasional post-concussion syndrome issues. Even if Horton were to be cleared for contact, Chiarelli said the 26-year-old would still need “a couple of weeks” before he would be ready to play in games.

“Well, certainly if he were to be cleared at some point, he’d need at least a couple weeks to get back so he’s quite far off right now,” Chiarelli said. “I know he’s skating, [but] he’s had little bouts here and there with post-concussion symptoms so it’s a long shot. I’m not going to rule him out yet but it’s a longshot.”

In 46 games this season, Horton has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points and an even rating.

On the status of the team’s other injured players, Chiarelli said defensemen Johnny Boychuk (bruised knee) and Adam McQuaid (swollen eye) are both “day-to-day,” while he considers goaltender Tuukka Rask “a little bit more than day-to-day” as the Finnish netminder looks to return from an abdomen strain/groin strain. If Rask is unable to play, Anton Khudobin will be Tim Thomas‘ backup when the playoffs begin against the Capitals.

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Bruins leave Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and Patrice Bergeron back in Boston 04.04.12 at 1:02 pm ET
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WILMINGTON – Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara all stayed out on the ice for extra work after Wednesday’s practice, and all three players will join Johnny Boychuk in staying behind when the team travels to Ottawa for Thursday’s game against the Senators. Of the four players, all but Boychuk will simply be given the game off for rest.

Boychuk left Tuesday night’s loss to the Penguins in the third period with a leg injury, but Claude Julien offered no update on the status of the defenseman aside from the fact that he won’t be making the trip.

Thursday’s game will be the first this season in which Bergeron has not played, and it will leave Chris Kelly as the only Bruin to play in each contest. It will be Thomas’ second straight scratch as the team aims to keep the reigning Conn Smythe winner fresh for the playoffs.

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Andy Brickley on D&C: Johnny Boychuk injury ‘didn’t look good’ at 9:45 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss the state of the team heading into the playoffs, the injury to defenseman Johnny Boychuk, as well as the embellishment rule, among other things.

In the Bruins’ 5-3 loss to the Penguins Tuesday night, Boychuk went down on the ice and had to be helped off by teammates without being able to put any weight on his injured left leg. Boychuk is scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday, but Brickley said that the injury might very well be a costly one.

“I have some experience with bad knee injuries and I didn’t like the way that one looked,” Brickley said. “I’m hoping that he’s young enough and he’s durable enough that he can withstand it and that it’s not a long-term injury. It didn’t look good.”

With only a handful of games remaining before the regular season comes to an end, it can be hard for some playoff-bound teams to maintain their focus on their final games. Brickley said that regardless of the circumstances, teams like the Bruins just have to keep playing hard.

“The intention is in the final three games when you know you’re not changing slots as far as who you play in the first round, you’ve still got to play the game at 100 percent, you’ve got to play it hard and you’ve got to play it in the right way,” Brickley said. “The minute you start taking short cuts or you don’t play at 100 percent, real bad things happen.”

The Bruins are a team that’s not unfamiliar with facing opposing players that dive, and they experienced it Tuesday night as Penguins defenseman Kris Letang acted as if he were hit the face with a stick from a Bruins player. However, the embellishment rule, which penalizes players for for diving, was not called in that instance, something Brickley thought was a mistake.

“Anytime a player snaps his head back like that as if he got a stick in the face when it’s not even close, it’s akin to taking a dive when somebody tries a very subtle poke,” Brickley said. “You see guys put one hand on their stick, put it in the midsection of a player and the player flops. There was a time when they really started cracking down on the diving penalties and that’s basically embellishment and that’s what you saw last night except it was the snap of the neck by Letang.

“It goes to the integrity of the game and the integrity of the player. It’s a man’s game played by men, and you hate to see when players do that.”

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Sidney Crosby leads Penguins past Bruins 04.03.12 at 10:08 pm ET
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Penguins star Sidney Crosby celebrates his second-period goal against the Bruins Tuesday night. (AP)

Sidney Crosby had two goals as the Penguins beat Marty Turco and the Bruins by a 5-3 score Tuesday night at TD Garden.

The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Crosby and Paul Martin, but Benoit Pouliot made it a one-goal game late in the period by beating Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson with a nifty backhander. Milan Lucic tied it just 18 seconds into the second, but the Penguins cashed in on a 5-on-3 by getting power-play goals from James Neal and Crosby to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead. The Pens would add to it when Aaron Asham scored his fifth of the season in the third period to make it 5-3, and though the Bruins responded with Rich Peverley‘s 11th goal of the season, they were unable to make it any closer.

Turco took the loss for the Bruins, stopping 22-of-27 shots and falling to 1-2-0 since signing with Boston last month.

The Bruins will play their likely first-round playoff opponent Thursday when they travel to Ottawa to face the Senators.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Johnny Boychuk left the game with just over 13 minutes remaining in the third period. Boychuk appeared to injure his knee while going for an open-ice hit on Asham, and he remained on the ice and was joined by trainer Don DelNegro before being helped off the ice by Brian Rolston and Chris Kelly. He did not return to the game.

– The Bruins fell victim to a couple of bad calls in the second period that both resulted in Penguins goals. Seconds after Daniel Paille was sent off for charging for his hit on Matt Niskanen, Peverley was given a high-sticking penalty on a play in which Kris Letang clearly embellished. Neal scored his 40th of the season with the Penguins on the 5-on-3, and Crosby made it 4-2 with Peverley still in the box. Peverley’s stick did not touch Letang’s face, but the Pittsburgh defenseman whipped his head back, resulting in the call.

Patrice Bergeron‘s line had been playing well for the Bruins in recent games, but the line was a minus-2 after two periods. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin managed to put pucks on net, including a Seguin shot on a 2-on-0 in the second period, but the line failed to produce a goal and was on the ice for two Pittsburgh tallies, while Bergeron was on the ice for the Penguins’ first four goals. In addition to failing to cash in on the 2-on-0 with Marchand, Seguin was stopped by Johnson on a pair of breakaways.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Pouliot’s goal, his 15th of the season, gave him a career-high 31 points this season. Aside from last season’s 79-game campaign with the Canadiens (13 goals, 17 assists, 30 points), Pouliot has spent much of his career unable to play a full season at the NHL level due to either injury or performance. He’s been able to put together a solid season in Boston, coming three goals short of Michael Ryder‘s production in Ryder’s last two seasons with the Bruins.

– Though he was the recipient of a debatable charging penalty, Paille was extra physical Tuesday night. He also put a big hit on Asham that nearly sent the Penguins forward into the Bruins bench in the second period.

– The B’s top line of David Krejci between Lucic and Peverley was productive for the B’s, producing two goals. Krejci had a nice backhanded dish to Lucic to set up the Bruins’ second goal, and the center picked up helpers on both of his line’s goals. All three players finished with multiple-point nights, as Lucic and Peverley each had a goal and an assist.

– Good on defenseman Andrew Ference for not only taking on but taking down a much bigger opponent in Neal. The two fought in a spirited bout in the second period, with Ference getting the decision.

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