TAMPA BAY Trent Whitfield has been a break glass in case of emergency kind of player for the Bruins over the last three years, and hes filling that role again for an injury-ravaged Bs squad.
The 34-year-old Whitfield was called up to the Bruins on emergency recall from the AHL Providence Bruins on Monday morning, and skated with the team during an optional practice at the Tampa Times Forum. Whitfield said he never assumed the call was coming after he watched Patrice Bergeron suffer an injury while blocking a shot Sunday afternoon against the Penguins, but hed be ready just as hes been in the past.
It was Whitfield that got the call during the regular season and playoffs two years ago when injuries to Marc Savard and David Krejci ravaged Bostons roster, and he got into a total of 20 games between the regular season and playoffs.
I just know that the team is a little banged up a little bit right now and some guys are questionable for tomorrow night. Im just going to prepare like Im going to play and Im sure itll be a game-time decision, said Whitfield. Ive done this periodically on my 14-year career. Ive been here before. Ill prepare like I always do. If I play itll be great and if I dont then well see where we go from there.
Its exciting. This is where I wanted to start the year. Its obviously up to Claude and how he wants to use me, but Im just going to do the best job I can.
Mondays promotion to the Bruins marks Whitfields first recall this season after serving as the captain of the P-Bruins this year while hes managed 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 41 AHL games. The two-way pivot said hes been battling injuries that have made it a challenging year for him, but elevated play on the ice over the last couple of weeks has coincided with getting the call from Boston.
We called Whitfield up because were banged up. Weve got a lot of question marks going into tomorrow, said Julien of Tuesday nights game against the Lightning. If we cant have certain guys playing then hes available to us. I have no idea whether hell be in the lineup or not, but itll depend on the situation.
Hes been with us before. I thought he was a really good player for us when injuries hit us in the playoffs a couple of years ago. Hes got a really good work ethic, hes got some experience in the league and right now this is what we need.
While its unclear what line Whitfield will center, it would clearly be a bottom-six forward role while Chris Kelly will likely get bumped up as the No. 2 center should Bergeron be unable to play. It should be a seamless transition given that the P-Bruins are Bostons offensive and defensive system employed by Claude Julien.
The systems are identical. This past season they really made a point to play the exact same system in both Boston and Providence so the transition would be smooth no matter who it is coming up to play here, said Whitfield. That will all be the same and itll be business as usual.
Its never good news in Boston when Whitfield is up at the NHL level because it means the Bruins have been besieged by injuries, but its also comforting knowing the veteran can step in and fill a role with experience and poise.