Bruins expected to deal with injuries during tough stretch

Bruins expected to deal with injuries during tough stretch
March 19, 2013, 9:00 am
Share This Post

WINNIPEG – Claude Julien said that, all things considered, the Bruins dodged a couple of bullets with the injuries to both Chris Kelly and David Krejci.

Kelly is out indefinitely with a broken left tibia, but the injury is higher up on the bone in a location where it’s supposed to heal more quickly. Combining that knowledge with the fact that it could have been a season-ending knee injury, the Bruins will feel fortunate if they see their third-line center suiting up by the time the playoffs roll around.

The same goes for Krejci, who managed to avoid a broken kneecap after absorbing a full blast Johnny Boychuk slapper off the top of the right knee in Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Instead the playmaking pivot is day-to-day with what the Bruins believe is a bruised knee, according to Claude Julien, and the team is measuring his return to the lineup in days rather than weeks.

It feels odd to say, but Julien feels fortunate that things didn’t break more badly for the Black and Gold in each case.

“We all know – the same thing with Chris Kelly, even though he’s out for awhile – that things could have been worse,” said Julien. “Those injuries could have been a lot worse. Considering where [Krejci] had been hit it could have been a lot worse, so right now we’re dealing with a day-to-day situation. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and progress from there.”

The Bruins were remarkably healthy in the first half of the season as they played a spaced out season schedule with plenty of off days in between games. The concussion to Shawn Thornton was probably the most serious injury suffered by the Black and Gold, but he was back in less than two weeks.

There’s always a price to pay for the idle time and good health for a hockey club, though, and the Bruins are paying the fiddler now. There was a tacit acknowledgement that attrition would hit them once they embarked on the 17-game gauntlet in 31 days during the month of March, and that busy schedule will continue into April. So the busy season has arrived and claimed Kelly and Krejci as its first victims.

“It’s not good for our team, but I think we have enough depth to overcome [the injuries]. I was asked that question when Marchand went down [for a couple of games] and we filled that spot,” said Gregory Campbell. “That’s the case if David can’t play as well. It’s not me replacing David because some of the things that he can do on the ice are irreplaceable. But it’s about being a guy that can be relied upon.

“He plays a lot of minutes and David goes out there in a lot of situations where he’s relied upon. I’ll have to be ready in those kinds of situations. [Injuries] are always a possibility. They’re always a possibility in an 82-game schedule. We’d been pretty fortunate to avoid severe cases of the injury bug, but it’s something every team has to deal with. But we’re an experienced club when it comes to that stuff, and we just have to play from that experience.”

Experience is one thing, of course, and that will keep the Bruins from panicking after losing two 20-goal scorers for a period of time. But Boston is also badly in need of some reinforcements and healthy bodies at this point in the season. Ryan Spooner represents some of those reinforcements as he arrives for the stretch run of the season – and ironically fills the place of a player in Krejci that got his first extended look when he replaced an injured Marc Savard down the stretch during Julien’s first season coaching the team back in 2007-08.

The bruised, battered Bruins could also use a fresh body or two via trade in the next couple of weeks as well if Peter Chiarelli can pull it off. There are few teams in “sell mode” at this point of the season: only the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres truly seem out of it in the East and every team in the Western Conference is still within striking distance of the playoffs.

But chances are there will be another injury or two awaiting the Bruins as they close out their final 21 games of the season in just 40 days. They need capable NHL players that can step into those potential voids rather than AHL call-ups and journeyman veterans meant as stopgap solutions.

The challenge is on for the Bruins to make like the Ottawa Senators and somehow absorb significant injuries without a devastating drop in play. The hope is that they can do just that, but the Senators season has been nothing short of miraculous.

Another injury or two to the Black and Gold, and they might have holding out for a miracle themselves.