Kampfer, McQuaid practice, close to returning

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Kampfer, McQuaid practice, close to returning

WILMINGTON The Bruins are a little banged up just five games into the new season, but they look like theyll be getting some reinforcements in the near future. Both Adam McQuaid who missed the Blackhawks game with a neck injury and Steve Kampfer who has missed all five Bs games with a sprained left MCL were back on the practice ice at Ristuccia Arena Monday morning, giving Boston eight defensemen.

McQuaids appearance on the ice seems to indicate that it was a neck injury rather than a concussion after he tumbled head-first into the boards against the Hurricanes last week, and coach Claude Julien said the towering blueliner was a possibility to play Tuesday night in the TD Garden rematch against Carolina if he can pass through some final tests Tuesday morning.

McQuaid made it through the biking and exertion tests previously, and Julien said itll be a well see about playing Tuesday.

You never want to miss too much time, said McQuaid, who indicated he skated on Sunday as well. But were just kind of evaluating things. Im feeling better each day; well see how the day progresses and then see how tomorrow goes.

I went through a similar situation before in last years Flyers series, so its one of those things where were just going day-by-day and see how it goes. Its been frustrating how the season has unfolded so far. Coming back after being sick for the first game, I still wasnt really feeling 100 percent like myself. So hopefully Im able to come back fully healthy this time around.

Kampfer, on the other hand, might need a few practices to get his conditioning back up to par and make sure hes ready for game action and that starts with the young blueliner likely getting cleared contact Tuesday morning. He looked as good as cleared for contact at the end of Mondays practice when he collided violently with Milan Lucic while the big power forward was carrying the puck with his head down.

I guess we were supposed to wait until tomorrow, said Kampfer with a laugh. But I guess it was good like that to get hit without expecting it. It kind of eases the mind to know you get hit and it didnt hurt anything.

Lucic skated away with everything pretty much intact, and Kampfer was okay after resting on one knee for a few seconds while making sure everything was in one piece. Kampfer assured after practice that he was pain-free in the left knee, and hes been attempting visualization exercises with the Bs training staff to help him pick up at the high level he was playing at just prior to the knee injury.

Im encouraged by how much Ive done in the first couple of games and how I feel walking and skating. It was a lot worse last season, said Kampfer. To feel as good as I do know is very encouraging. I still have to do a couple more things, get a couple more practices in and then well make that decision as we go.

The bottom line is this: Both McQuaid and Kampfer will be on the Bruins once they regain their health. It seems more likely that Matt Bartkowski is going to head back to Providence where he can get some playing time and build up confidence in his game. When asked about the defensemen on Saturday night, Claude Julien was specific in pointing out that he felt the five main defensemen were excellent against the Blackhawks while Bartkowski had a tough time getting out on the ice.

I would say five defensemen because Bartkowski only got out there for five minutes, said Julien. Bart was put in a tough position where he hadnt gotten much ice because of the situations, and then couldnt really put him into a close game in the third period. We feel it was judicious to use him there. Youre going to run into those situations where youre going to need to use the defensemen a little bit more.

We could handle it. We had two days before the next game and I thought they did a great job. Chara blocking those shots in the end. Johnny Boychuk blocking that one shot after getting run in the corner from behind. Then he goes down the ice and makes a big play on the game-tying goal. We really want our defensemen to be more proactive about getting down the ice and being part of the offense, and Boychuk was able to do that.

The need for offense is something stressed up and down the defensemen roster, and perhaps another reason why Kampfer should have the inside track on a roster spot once bodies start getting fully healed over the next few days.

Kalman: Bruins have to wait for secondary market of defensemen

Kalman: Bruins have to wait for secondary market of defensemen

Matt Kalman provides his take on what the Boston Bruins should do in terms of potentially landing a top defenseman this offseason.

Bruins taking a chance on Clarke in the fifth round

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Bruins taking a chance on Clarke in the fifth round

The Lone Star Brahmas aren’t exactly a household name in the junior hockey world, but NAHL team did produce a player worth of a Bruins draft pick last weekend. A 20-year-old defenseman named Cameron Clarke showed his offensive skills and playmaking en route to nine goals and 50 points in 59 games last season for the Brahmas, and continued to add strength to a wiry 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame that still needs to be developed as he heads off to Ferris State University.

The Tecumseh, Michigan native was floored at the prospect of being drafted by the Bruins after he was selected in the fifth round (136th overall) at last weekend’s draft in Buffalo, and excited to see some results for all of his hard work over the last few years.

“It’s a feeling like no other. I was just sitting in there with my family and when it happened, it was just pure excitement, and to go to Boston, they’re an Original Six organization,” said Clarke, who described himself as a good-skating defenseman and a good puck-mover that models his game after Capitals D-man John Carlson. “It’s just — it’s something you dream of growing up and it’s a great feeling.

“I talked to Mr. Sullivan [Bruins Scout Keith Sullivan] I believe it was in December and I knew that they had come watch me play a couple of times so I knew that they were interested. I knew that they were a team that could be a possibility that could be picking me and I’ve always watched hockey and my dad used to be a Bruins fan growing up when he was little [he grew up in Ottawa and was a big Bobby Orr fan], so it’s a great feeling. Boston’s an Original Six franchise. It’s very special, for sure.”

Clarke will obviously take a big step in his development headed to the Ferris State hockey program next season, and the Bruins hope to continue seeing improvements in the size and strength department during his college hockey years.

“We knew there were teams that were there [ready to take him], and our guys really liked him,” said Bruins Director of Scouting Keith Gretzky. “He’s gained a lot of weight in a year-and-a-half, but we know he’s going to take some time. We’re good with that. Our guys really liked him, so we took him.”

The Clarke pick is a pretty low risk/high reward selection that was off the beaten path of the normal OHL/European junior league paths, but it remains to be seen if it will pay dividends later for selecting the over-age player.