Game-time decisions for Paille, Thornton, Marchand Saturday

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Game-time decisions for Paille, Thornton, Marchand Saturday

The Bruins had all of their injured players back taking normal line rushes for a Friday morning practice on the TD Garden ice with the hope that some if not all would be ready to return Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Brad Marchand skated as the extra forward on the white line with Tyler Seguin, David Krejci and Milan Lucic while Rich Peverley donned a yellow practice jersey while skating with Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton.

Both Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton were wearing their normal merlot practice sweaters, and Jamie Tardif had pushed up to the right wing on the gray line alongside Chris Kelly and Chris Bourque. Bruins coach Claude Julien wasnt sure if he was going to keep those practice lines intact when the puck is dropped against Tampa Bay, and some of it will depend on exactly who is available to play.

I can honestly tell you that Im not 100 percent on those lines right now, said Julien. There could be some changes. There are players were going to have to make decisions on tomorrow whether theyre in our out. Those lines could change.

Well see how Marchand is tomorrow after practicing, and Paille and Thornton are in the same boat. In this season its not such a bad idea to put different players with each other just to see what might happen.

Paille has now practiced for several days and appears the closest to returning to the Bruins lineup, but Julien was careful to say he hasnt yet been medically cleared to play after taking a high-stick in the left eye area last week vs. Buffalo. The Bruins fourth line winger

At this point in time I dont necessarily know, said Paille when asked if hell play vs. Tampa Bay. I feel really good. When I practice I dont have any visual problems, but Ill have to speak with Claude and the training staff today to see if its the right decision.

Thornton will have missed two games and been out nine days since he got dinged in a brawl with Buffalo enforcer John Scott last week, and was sharing time with Lane MacDermid on the right wing during practice. Just in case youre sensing a pattern here, Thornton also wouldnt reveal how close he is to returning to the Bruins lineup after skating with the full team for the first time since suffering his injury.

This was the first time skating with the boys in a week. It was a long week of skating with myself and Daniel Paille, said Thornton. I have no idea if Im playing tomorrow. I guess well find out tomorrow.

Marchand looked spry and energetic hopping on into line rushes and drills with his Bruins teammates, but sounded like somebody that might be sitting for another game following Fridays practice

Guys play through things all the time and that wouldnt be an issue. I just want to make sure this isnt something that could reoccur. Im not going to put myself in a vulnerable position, said Marchand. You dont want to be a liability and be just floating around. Its frustrating when youre out there and youre not your best, so you might as well wait until you can help the team.

The best educated guess as to who will play and who wont based on how they looked at practice: it appeared Paille was the closest to coming back, and that both Thornton and Marchand might get at least one more day or two before theyre slotted back in the Bs lineup.

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.