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Injuries mean jobs: Bruins’ young defensemen should seize moment like those before them 11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

Peter Chiarelli will probably never say how many NHL defensemen he thinks he has again.

Since saying that he felt he had nine this offseason, the number has been tested significantly. After trading one of them in Johnny Boychuk, Chiarelli has seen five of his defensemen get hurt in the first 20 games of the season. Of the nine NHL-caliber defensemen Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins possessed, the only three who haven’€™t suffered an injury this season have been Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.

That is rough, rough stuff for the Bruins, but it does allow that list of NHL defensemen to get longer. Games played as injury replacements have been the avenue to the NHL for many of Boston’€™s young defensemen, with Hamilton really the only one who was actually given a job to begin his NHL career.

Adam McQuaid filled in for an injured Mark Stuart and took his job in 2011. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski earned their sweaters in the 2013 postseason. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman got their feet wet a season ago with injuries to various blueliners, while Joe Morrow initially came up to replace the struggling Bartkowski this season but will remain in the lineup in part because of Boston’€™s ailing back end.

Krug thinks that’€™s a respectable way to become an NHL player. He feels jumping in to replace a hurt player leaves less room for thinking, which is a good way to avoid mistakes for a young player.

“It doesn’€™t leave you time to think about what could happen or what could go wrong, because you’€™re the only option,”€ he said. “€œThey’€™re putting you in the game and you’€™ve just got to go out and do your thing. All the guys that have gone out and done so so far have taken the right mindset.

“€œThat’€™s the only reason I’€™m here right now, is because there was an opportunity with a couple guys hurt in the playoffs, and I [made] the best of it. I think these guys are doing a good job of taking these opportunities and running with it. It’€™s fun when you earn things like that.”

McQuaid had gotten off to a very encouraging start to this season coming off an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign that saw him dress in only 30 games. With a broken thumb putting his season on hold for 6-8 weeks, the Bruins have to go back to their group of young defensemen for bigger and tougher minutes.

That won’€™t be easy, but given the job that Miller did replacing him last season and the play they’€™ve gotten from other young blueliners, the Bruins are confident they can handle the loss.

“€œIs it a silver lining? It is in a way because we really felt we had some good depth on the back end,”€ Claude Julien said. “I think it’€™s showing now. Whoever we bring up seems to be doing a decent job. A lot of guys that are here now are going to make it difficult for us when it’€™s all said and done. There’€™s a pretty good competition going again on our back end.”

Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has proven to be a better NHL player than he was an AHL player. Trotman, meanwhile, was replaced by Bartkowski on Saturday and eventually sent to Providence, but now he’€™s back with the NHL club. Neither player was on Chiarelli’€™s unofficial list of nine this summer, but they can add their names to it with strong performances.

Given their injuries, the Bruins’€™ list of NHL-caliber defensemen isn’€™t anything like what it was in the offseason, but as players return to the lineup, the B’€™s could eventually find themselves at a point where they have more guys capable of handling NHL minutes than they did immediately after trading Boychuk.

“I think that number’€™s grown,”€ Krug said. “€œYou’€™re witnessing Joe come in and do a great job, and Trots is getting the experience and he’€™s doing well. I think that number’€™s getting higher and higher. Hopefully at some point, we have that many guys that the coaching staff has to make a decision who to play.”

Read More: Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug
Brad Marchand out vs. Blues, David Krejci and Kevan Miller could return 11.18.14 at 11:40 am ET
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Brad Marchand left Bruins morning skate after one line rush and was subsequently declared out for Tuesday’€™s game against the Blues.

Marchand, who missed the final 13:45 of Saturday’€™s game with an undisclosed injury, practiced Monday and was termed “probable” at the time by Julien. Asked whether Marchand’€™s ailment was a concussion or head injury, Julien said it was not.

Tuesday will mark Marchand’s first missed game of the season. In 19 games thus far, Marchand is tied with Carl Soderberg and Seth Griffith for the team lead with five goals.

David Krejci (lower-body) participated in morning skate and centered his regular linemates in Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Julien said that the team didn’€™t know yet whether he would be in. Julien added that if a callup was made Tuesday, it would mean Krejci would be out.

Kevan Miller, who is cleared to play, also participated in the morning skate. Julien said the B’€™s will dress seven defensemen in warmups and decide afterwards whether Miller will be in the lineup. Miller has not played since suffering a dislocated shoulder in a fight on Oct. 18.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Kevan Miller,
Kevan Miller cleared to play, David Krejci getting closer, Brad Marchand ‘probable’ 11.17.14 at 10:40 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Brad Marchand missed Monday’s practice, while both David Krejci and Kevan Miller took the ice at Ristuccia Arena. After the practice, Julien said that Miller has been cleared to play.

Marchand did not play the final 13:45 of Saturday’s game and also missed the last 6:23 of Wednesday’s game. Following Saturday’s win over the Hurricanes, Claude Julien said that Marchand was “not injured, per se.”

After the practice, Julien said that Marchand was “probable” for Tuesday’s game against the Blues. He added that the injury from which Marchand was suffering occurred in Saturday’s game.

With Marchand absent, Matt Fraser took his place on Patrice Bergeron‘s line.

Krejci, who began skating Friday as he works his way back from a lower-body injury, did line drills with his usual linemates in Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. Chris Kelly, who has played in Krejci’s place during his absence, returned to Carl Soderberg’s line.

Krejci missed the first three games of the season, returned to play nine, missed two more before returning for one game and missing the last four games. He did not appear to be limited in Monday’s practice.

Julien said that he has yet to be notified that Krejci has been cleared to play. Asked whether the team wanted to be more cautious with Krejci this time than last time, Julien denied any previous impatience on the Bruins’ part.

“Well he was 100 percent last time,” Julien said, “and somehow by the end of the game he didn’€™t feel good again, so we have to take that into consideration as well.”

The forward lines in practice were as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Fraser – Bergeron – Smith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Gagne – Campbell – Paille

Miller hasn’t played since Oct. 18 due to a dislocated shoulder suffered in a fight on Oct. 18. He had taken what the team called “light contact” leading up to Monday’s practice, but participated regularly Monday. Julien said that with Miller cleared to play, the only remaining hurdle is for the team to decide whether he has had enough practice time.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Kevan Miller,
Kevan Miller begins skating, David Krejci day-to-day 11.03.14 at 12:50 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller began skating Monday in his effort to return from a dislocated shoulder suffered on Oct. 18.

Miller skated by himself after Monday’€™s Bruins practice. He was considered out indefinitely following the injury, which happened in a fight against Nicolas Deslauriers.

David Krejci did not practice Monday. Claude Julien said that Krejci is day-to-day with the injury that caused him to miss Saturday’€™s game. According to a source, Krejci is battling the same hip injury that forced him to miss the first three games of the season.

With Krejci out, Chris Kelly centered Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith in Monday’€™s practice, just as he did in Saturday’€™s win over the Senators. The Bruins’€™ forward lines were as follows:

Lucic – Kelly – Griffith
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: David Krejci, Kevan Miller,
Bruins’ self-proclaimed defensive depth being put to test 10.20.14 at 10:56 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

In the offseason, Peter Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins had nine NHL-caliber defensemen. A 10th, he would later say, was close in Zach Trotman. It was hard to disagree.

Then the B’s traded Johnny Boychuk. Then Kevan Miller dislocated his right shoulder in a fight Saturday night, leaving him out indefinitely.

You can bet that all the defensive depth you’ve heard about now will be put to the test.

The obvious replacement with Miller out of the lineup is Matt Bartkowski. The Bruins would take turns sitting guys to find ways to get him in the lineup last season before Dennis Seidenberg‘s knee injury gave him a full-time job. With a healthier group this season, Bartkowski has been limited to just one game.

After that, David Warsofsky is the only remaining blueliner from the summer’s advertised group not on the roster. The B’s had to put him on waivers in order to send him to Providence at the end of training camp, but nobody claimed him. In five AHL games this season, the 24-year-old Warsofsky has no points and a minus-5 rating.

The thing with both Bartkowski and Warsofsky is that they are both left shots, while Miller is a righty. The Bruins, as you’ve probably noticed by now, like to play with a lefty on the left and a righty on the right unless it’s a Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg (both lefties) type of pairing.

There have been other exceptions to the lefty-righty rule, as Torey Krug played a bit on the right side down the stretch last season and Seidenberg has played on the left when paired with Bartkowski. It’s worth noting that the Bartkowski-Seidenberg pairing has struggled when used in games dating back to last season before Seidenberg’s injury.

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Kevan Miller being examined for ‘upper-body’ injury at 12:56 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien said Monday after practice that defenseman Kevan Miller is being examined for what the team termed an upper body injury following a fight Saturday in the 4-0 win in Buffalo.

“He’s just being looked at by our doctors,” Julien said. “We will probably have more [Tuesday].”

Julien also said he likes the way Seth Griffith has looked early in the season and would probably benefit from playing with the top line of David Krejci and Milan Lucic, as was the case Monday in practice.

“I think anytime a player can play with some experienced players, it gives you a little bit more confidence,” Julien said. “Guys are pretty good with helping guys through and giving them the opportunity to get accustomed to our team, get accustomed to his line so it certainly helps. I think that’s what Seth has been doing right now, trying to soak up as much as he can.”

The key right now to allowing Griffith to gain some experience at the NHL level is Simon Gagne. The 34-year-old veteran played with Lucic and Krejci on Saturday night in Buffalo. He also has skated on the fourth line in games, as was the case again in practice Monday. Julien said he liked what he saw from Gagne on Saturday night.

“He was OK. What you saw today is probably what you’ve been seeing all along, a little bit of moving around,” Julien said. “He can play on that line, he play on the fourth line. I think he’s made the fourth line a pretty good line. If Seth is going to play, he needs to play on one of those lines right now. If he’s going to gain some experience, I think it’s with those guys. We can alternate Simon in those positions and that’s what we’ve been doing so far.”

All of this, naturally, results from the fact that the Bruins are still searching for an answer at right wing on their top line and Julien is trying to find the right combination early in the season while still being patient with young players like Griffith, Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser and Craig Cunningham.

“You have to be a little bit patient,” Julien said “Fortunately, today for the players, you have to be able to bring some young guys in. There was a time when they really had to pay their dues and learn the game in the minors before they even got a shot. But in today’s game, you have to bring some young guys in for reasons like the cap and everything else. So you have to be able to live with some of the learning curves they have to go through and, at the same time, as a coach you try to minimize those so it doesn’t cost your team. That’s the balance you have to have in letting a young guy gain some experience and get better.”

It’s homecoming week against the Bruins as they host Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at the Garden. On Thursday, Johnny Boychuk makes his first return to Boston since being traded to the Islanders in the preseason.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Kevan Miller,
Seth Griffith gets work on top line with David Krejci, Milan Lucic at 10:57 am ET
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Seth Griffith

Seth Griffith

WILMINGTON — Seth Griffith was recalled Monday and was immediately placed on the top line in practice with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

Other notables from Monday included Matt Fraser and Simon Gagne taking turns on the burgundy line featuring Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille.

The second and third lines remained intact, with Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith while Carl Soderberg centered Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson.

The defense pairings consisted of Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski, and Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid.

The Bruins dressed just six defensemen in practice as Kevan Miller was absent. He left Saturday’s game following a fight and did not return with what the team termed an upper-body injury.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Kevan Miller, Seth Griffith,
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