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Post-morning skate notes: Milan Lucic out, Tim Thomas off first, Mark Stuart takes another step 01.13.11 at 12:23 pm ET
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Tim Thomas was first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate, so it looks like he’ll be rewarded with the start vs. the Flyers after shutting out the Senators on Tuesday. He faces a tougher challenge against Philadelphia, as the Flyers are third in the league with their 3.4 goals per game, while the Senators’ 2.2 goals per game rank 29th.

Forward Milan Lucic will be out for the second straight game, as the undisclosed injury (which seems to be going around these days) hasn’t healed to the point at which Claude Julien is comfortable putting the slumping winger back in the lineup.

“[He’s feeling] better,” coach Claude Julien said following the skate. “Obviously he won’t be i tonight, but he’s getting better.”

Julien likened Lucic’s situation to that of Nathan Horton, who missed a pair of games with an undisclosed injury prior to returning in Tuesday’s 6-0 victory over the Senators.

“[He’s] day-to-day,” Julien said. “It’s a lot like Horton. He’s dealing with the same kind of situation as far as day-to-day is concerned.”

When Lucic does return, he’ll be looking to both shake of rust and bust out of an 11-game goal drought. Lucic leads the Bruins with 16 goals this season.

While Lucic wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate, defenseman Mark Stuart was. Stuart has been out since suffering a fractured hand and dislocated finger on Dec. 7 and hopes to return to the lineup sometime next week.

Given the impressive play of Steven Kampfer, who was called up following Stuart’s injury, as well as Adam McQuaid‘s safe and solid play on the blueline, the B’s will have a decision to make when it comes to making room for Stuart. To Stuart, the fact that both have played so well tells him that the team is in good shape, and that he shouldn’t assume anything will be handed to him.

“This is the best position to be in, and it’s going to make me work even harder to get back and to play well,” Stuart said.

“It’s definitely the case,” he added regarding the competition he anticipates for his spot. “You have to earn your way back. I don’t care who you are. … Guys are playing well. It would probably be different if the team was on a downswing and they were looking to change things up.

“It’s good to see, though. That’s what you need. That’s what all good teams have. You look around the league at the good teams. They all have guys coming up, guys coming in and out. Everybody can play, everybody comes in and does the job. I think that’s what you’ve seen with us the last month or so.”

Julien noted that with Stuart still a week to 10 days away, he isn’t in any rush to make a quick decision on how things will unfold.

“It’€™s probably a little early to answer that question,” Julien said. “… [We have] lots of games and so sometimes you have to make those decisions, sometimes you don’€™t so I’€™ll give myself a little break on that one.”

Here are some other notes from the skate:

– The lines looked the same for the Bruins as they were on Tuesday against Ottawa.





– McQuaid probably likes getting attention more from his play and his fighting rather than from perhaps the scariest moment of his career. With the Flyers in town, though, so too is Jody Shelley, who sent him head-first into the end boards on Dec. 11 when the two were chasing an iced puck.

The B’s blueliner wanted to move on from the play, which got Shelley suspended for two games, at the time, and as the spotlight returns with Flyers, he would rather not dwell on it.

“You never want to kind of see yourself going head-first into the boards at any point in time, but it’s not really something I’m thinking too much about,” McQuaid said. “I’ve moved on, moved past it, and just want to be focused for tonight.”

– Horton wasn’t around following Tuesday’s game or during Thursday morning’s media availability, so it’s tough to gauge exactly how comfortable the winger feels since returning from his undisclosed injury. Julien liked what he saw from the winger on Tuesday, but on Thursday didn’t know if Horton’s feeling completely better.

“Let’€™s put it this way: he’€™s well enough to play,” Julien said. “I don’€™t know that I’€™d say he’€™s 100 percent, because you don’€™t come back from missing games and all of a sudden you’€™re 100 percent.

“[He was] close enough that the risk factor was kind of pushed aside, and they’€™re minimal, and that he was able to give us what we wanted and well enough to play.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Jody Shelley, Mark Stuart, Milan Lucic
Bruins call up Matt Bartkowski from Providence, place Mark Stuart on IR 01.09.11 at 9:25 pm ET
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The Bruins announced Sunday night that they have recalled defenseman Matt Bartkowski from Providence and placed defenseman Mark Stuart on injured reserve. The 22-year-old Bartkowski will be available to the B’s when they face the Penguins on Monday night.

Bartkowski was the Bruins’ final cut from the NHL roster before the regular season. In 34 games in Providence, he has four goals and eight assists for 12 points on the season.

The Bruins acquired Bartkowski from the Panthers in last season’s trade for Dennis Seidenberg. The Ohio State product was drafted by the Panthers in the seventh round of the 2008 draft.

Stuart has been out since Dec. 7 with a fractured hand and dislocated finger. He has two points (both assists) in 26 games.

Read More: Mark Stuart, Matt Bartkowski,
Mark Stuart still taking steps towards return to Bruins lineup 01.05.11 at 2:14 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart, out since Dec. 7 with a broken hand a dislocated finger, is making continued progress on the comeback trail.

At the time of his injury, which occurred while making a pass in the team’s 3-2 overtime win against the Sabres, general manager Peter Chiarelli projected a four-to-six-week absence from the lineup for the blueliner. Wednesday marked four weeks and one day since the injury. Stuart has been skating without teammates, and prior to Wednesday’s practice he took to the ice with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides. He’s not yet to the point where he can work with pucks, but his coach hopes that he isn’t far off.

“He’s skating and he’s coming along,” Julien said of Stuart. “I don’t know how far he is from starting to handle pucks, but at least he’s on the ice. Things seem to be heading in the right direction.”

In 26 games this season, Stuart has a plus-3 rating and a pair of assists to go with 23 penalty minutes.

Read More: Mark Stuart,
Bruins return to practice in Wilmington at 10:38 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins took the ice Wednesday for their first practice at Ristuccia Arena since the day after Christmas. All healthy players were accounted for, while Mark Stuart, still recovering from injuries to his hand and finger, skated with John Whitesides prior to the skate, according to the Bruins.

The color-coded lines when the players took the ice were the same as they had been since Gregory Campbell returned in the team’s victory over the Maple Leafs Monday:





The B’s did some line work, practiced the power play and had some fun with penalty shots. Blake Wheeler tried to pull a Linus Omark, and though he pulled off the spin move, he did not beat Tuukka Rask.

Read More: Gregory Campbell, Mark Stuart,
Mark Stuart’s hand injury occurred last Thursday 12.09.10 at 11:45 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart, sporting a cast and out four-to-six weeks with a broken hand, spoke on Thursday about how his injury occurred.

Though Stuart left the first period of Tuesday’s game, the injury actually dates back to last Thursday’s 8-1 win over the Lightning. Stuart blocked a shot from the point, getting hit in the right hand.

X-rays after the game were negative, and he played through pain and swelling for the rest of the night and in Saturday’s game.

“We just decided to see how it felt and look at it in a couple of days. It was a little sore. We taped it up for Toronto. It wasn’t feeling good, so we had planned on getting X-rays again after the game on Tuesday.”

It obviously didn’t make it that far. On his third shift of the night on Tuesday, Stuart made a pass and his hand “caved in,” as he both broke his hand and dislocated his ring finger at the same time.

Stuart said that by the time he had made the pass, his hand was “hanging on by a thread.”

This marks the second time in as many seasons that a hand injury will keep Stuart out for a prolonged period of time. He missed 26 games last season with a broken finger and an infection in his finger.

“I’m kind of a veteran with this now,” Stuart said.

Read More: Mark Stuart,
At least there’s dexterity? Looking the Bruins without Mark Stuart at 3:11 am ET
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With Mark Stuart out for four-to-six weeks with a broken hand, the Bruins for the third time this season have lost a defenseman for an extended period of time. First, there was Johnny Boychuk from Oct. 23 to Nov. 18. More recently, the team lost Matt Hunwick for, you know, ever when they sent the 25-year-old to the Avalanche in exchange for Colby Cohen.

If one were to meet the Bruins’ estimation in the middle and assume that Stuart will miss exactly five weeks from Wednesday, the day of the announcement, the B’s would be without his services for 16 games.

Amidst the one-at-a-time manner in which players have dropped off the Bruins’ blue line, it is no surprise that the Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont tweeted Wednesday that the team’s efforts in the trade market will not be limited to solving salary cap issues. Dupont noted that the team could try to swing a deal with a Western Conference team — he singled out the Stars and the Coyotes — to grab a defenseman.

Yet without having taken care of the first order of business — dumping salary — the team now instead must look at the in-house alternative for blueline help. Though the guess here (and likely everywhere else) is that Marco Sturm will be out of town before long, the team, cuffed by the cap, can only look to the kids of Providence for now.

Matt Bartkowski, who had already gotten his free trip to the Europe when the B’s brought him along for the final two preseason games, was not the lucky guy when it came time to choosing who would be recalled. Instead it was Steven Kampfer, one of the six guys they released from camp the day they left for Belfast. Kampfer has 16 points for Providence Bruins this season, good for second on the team.

In speaking to the media following practice on Wednesday, Kampfer said the same thing any player stepping in due to injury says with the “I’m not trying to come in and replace _____” line. That makes plenty of sense, as he is smaller and less physical than Stuart. He’s more of a puck mover, while Stuart’s fists come in handy more than his hands.

As far as skill sets go, that actually isn’t a problem. If you think about it, and this dates back to last week’s trade of Matt Hunwick, Kampfer isn’t replacing Stuart. Adam McQuaid is. Kampfer is replacing his former Michigan teammate in Hunwick. McQuaid is the bigger, tougher and maybe safer defenseman, like Stuart. Kampfer fills the role of puck-mover that was left unoccupied following the trade of Hunwick.

Another plus for Kampfer that isn’t getting much attention — and perhaps a factor in the team’s decision to give him the call over Bartkowski — is that he’s a right-handed shot. With Kampfer in the lineup, the defense’s dexterity is now even at three lefties and three righties. Considering they opened the season with Johnny Boychuk as the only righty on the blueline, they have, through injury and loss via trade, seen a bit more balance in one respect.

It should also be interested in seeing how this impacts Stuart. He’s playing on a one-year deal worth $1.675 million and is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He took the one-year pact after missing 26 games last season with a broken left pinky and an infection in his pinky.

The B’s probably wanted to see Stuart stay healthy before they showed him the money (and the years), and Stuart likely wanted to sign a big contract — the very one in which he’d play his prime years — after a season that warranted a bigger deal.

‘€œI expected after the season that I had if I was going to get a deal it was going to be a one-year deal and then see how I played,” Stuart said after signing the one-year deal in July. “Hopefully, I can have a great year this year and then hopefully, yeah, a long-term deal is in the future.’€

Stuart has averaged 16:43 of ice time, which is right around where he sat last season (17:01). He’s got two assists, 23 penalty minutes, and is a plus-3 through 26 games.

Read More: Mark Stuart, Steven Kampfer,
Mark Stuart out 4-6 weeks for Bruins 12.08.10 at 1:40 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — [UPDATE: 5:54 p.m.] Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart is out for four-to-six weeks with a broken hand, an injury suffered in the first period of Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Sabres. Peter Chiarelli issued the following statement Wednesday:

“Mark sustained a fracture to the 4th metacarpal of his right hand (ring finger) and dislocated his 4th metacarpal phlangeal joint. He was evaluated by Dr. Matt Leibman at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and is expected to miss approximately 4-6 weeks.”

In 26 games this season, Stuart has two assists and is a plus-3. His 16:43 of ice time per night is fifth among Bruins blueliners, and his 23 penalty minutes is tied for sixth on the team.

With Stuart out, the team recalled Steven Kampfer from Providence on an emergency basis. The 22-year-old Michigan product led all Providence defensemen with 16 points.

Read More: Mark Stuart, Steven Kampfer,
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