Krejci, Boychuk back on the ice as Bruins hold a rare Sunday practice

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Krejci, Boychuk back on the ice as Bruins hold a rare Sunday practice

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- Claude Julien usually gives the Bruins Sundays off. But after back-to-back losses marked by fatigue and, more recently, the disappearance of their transition game, the B's got back to work Sunday afternoon at Ristuccia Arena in preparation for their game against the New Jersey Devils Monday night at the TD Garden.

David Krejci was back skating with the team for the first time since sufferng a concussion just over a week ago. He rotated on the top line with Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton.

Krejci isn't yet able to dish out or receive contact. While he passed the appropriate bike tests to return to practice, he still has to pass additional tests in order to return to game action.

"I still have some testing to do," said Krejci. "I don't know, I've got to talk to my trainers about it. I don't want to set the exact game or the date."

"It's another step in the right direction," said Julien. "He's happy, and we're happy to see him, so let's keep our fingers crossed, and hopefully it keeps progressing.

"We don't really know," added Julien, when asked when he could return. "Concussions are concussions, and it's really hard to pinpoint. You could have a setback, or doctors might say we want to hold him back for a little longer. That's the part that we don't know."

Johnny Boychuk (broken left forearm) also took part in the practice session. Julien said after practice that Boychuk's cast will be downsized in the next few days and his return has more to do with how he feels.

"In his case, as soon as he feels good enough, where it doesn't hurt him anymore, and he's capable of using his stick and playing, will be the day, I guess, that he's cleared to go," said Julien. "So a lot of it is going to be up to him, from here on in, because he's probably going to have to play a little bit, with a cast, for the first week or so."

And while the return of Krejci may steal the headlines on Sunday, one can't overlook the fact that Julien also tweaked his lines a little bit.

Shawn Thornton and Michael Ryder switched places, with Thornton moving to Tyler Seguin's wing, along with Daniel Paille, and Ryder moving to the wing with Greg Campbell and Brad Marchand.

"It's something I did for today," said Julien. "When you haven't won too many games lately, it's unfortunate, because we feel like we're maybe a little bit handcuffed. We're short in the middle, and there's not a ton of options. And today we just made that little change.

"Whether it stays like that Monday, or not, or whether I start with it against New Jersey and then change, I don't really know. I think right now, it's kind of us trying to feel our way through, maybe trying to find something that's going to spark our offense a little bit more."

Julien mentioned after Saturday night's 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators that the Bruins have been suffering from a non-existent transition game, which also has contributed to a lack of offense as of late.

Krejci's absence certainly has certainly had an affect, but until he returns, the B's will continue to tweak the things that they can, with the players they have.

"That's what we were doing Sunday," said Julien. "A lot of transition, get some speed through the neutral zone, and in order to have that, it's important that our guys all come back. We have tendencies, through the course of the season, sometimes you get lazy, without knowing that you're getting lazy.

"And you have to work back hard, and come up together as a five-man unit. And right now, I think, looking at Saturday night's game, and looking it over again, we were spread out a little bit too wide, and there's not much support with the puck carrier. So we need to be a little bit closer together, and be a little bit more supportive of each other on the ice."

The line of Mark Recchi, Blake Wheeler, and Jordan Caron remained the same, and with Boychuk practicing again, all seven defensemen were present, along with both Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comdannypicard

McQuaid on going in the NHL expansion draft: ‘I hope that’s not the case for me’

McQuaid on going in the NHL expansion draft: ‘I hope that’s not the case for me’

BOSTON – With the NHL expansion draft looming a couple of months in the future, it became much more of a reality for the Bruins this week now that the 2016-17 season is in the books.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney said on Thursday that he expects the Bruins to go the 7 (forwards) 3 (defensemen) 1 (goaltender) route protecting their roster from the June 21 expansion draft. That will still leave some useful roster players unprotected.

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Atop that available expansion list for the Bruins will be potential names Malcolm Subban, Riley Nash, Jimmy Hayes and Adam McQuaid, who could be headed to Vegas. Asked about the topic at this week’s breakup day for the players, McQuaid expressed his hopes that he isn’t the one selected by the Vegas Golden Knights. The 30-year-old McQuaid stayed healthy enough to play in 77 games this season, and posted two goals and 10 points along with a plus-4 while serving in a top-four role pretty much all season as Torey Krug’s defensive partner.

McQuaid also brought the toughness and quiet leadership element with his willingness to always stand up for his teammates and go toe-to-toe with the toughest guys in the league when it was called for. His midseason heavyweight bout with Matt Martin was one of the most memorable moments of the season. It’s an element the Bruins would miss if he was taken in the expansion draft.  

“Well, I hope not. I never thought of it that way, to be honest with you. Obviously, the reality of the situation is they’re picking somebody from every team,” said McQuaid. “So, I hope that’s not the case for me. I’ve won here and I’ve always said how much I love it back here. I can’t imagine playing for another team. It’s totally out of my control, but hopefully that’s not the case.”

McQuaid is signed for $2.75 million for the next seasons and it was clear he was missed on the penalty kill once he went down injured in the first-round series against the Ottawa Senators. As for the entire expansion process, Sweeney said they are currently whittling down the protected list while required to protect Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to start by virtue of the no-movement language in their contracts.

Other young players, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano among others, don’t need to be protected either after completing this season with two years or less of pro hockey experience. One of the most difficult decisions will come down to protecting either 25-year-old Colin Miller or 28-year-old Kevan Miller as the third defensemen. 

Whichever one of those D-men is left unprotected would join McQuaid as the most likely player to be selected by Vegas GM George McPhee after he spent a decent amount of time scouting the Black and Gold this season to get an idea of which player he wanted.

Here’s our best guess at which players will end up being protected by the Bruins:

Forwards (7): Bergeron, Krejci, Backes, Pastrnak, Marchand, Beleskey and Spooner

Defensemen (3): Chara, Krug and Colin Miller

Goaltender (1): Rask 


 

Friday, April 28: Why combine NHL Awards with expansion draft?

Friday, April 28: Why combine NHL Awards with expansion draft?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Bruce Cassidy does a regular call-in to the Toucher and Rich Show next season. It’s a treat for Bruins fans. Cassidy is a straight shooter and has a great personality as well.

*Puck Daddy explains why the NHL is cramming the expansion draft for Vegas in with the NHL Awards show. I feel like this kind of makes sense because they’re both Vegas-centric.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ian Mendes says there’s no playoff fever in Ottawa and instead only a “Sens malaise.” It’s crazy to me that there were pockets of empty seats in Ottawa for Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs against the Rangers.

*Speaking of Game 1 between the Sens and the Rangers, here are the details with Erik Karlsson again stepping up and playing the hero while carrying Ottawa.

*The Anaheim Ducks are having a heck of a time containing Leon Draisaitl in their second round battle with the Edmonton Oilers.

*Here’s some of this morning’s chat between Bruce Cassidy and Toucher and Rich where he talked about his relationship with Claude, his hate for the Canadiens and the future outlook for the Bruins organization. Good stuff.

*Glen Gulutzan reflects on his first season behind the bench for the Calgary Flames after their first round ouster.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Mike Halford has details of the Rangers not allowing Chris Drury to interview for the GM job with the Buffalo Sabres.

*For something completely different: What is the deal with this Buckingham McVie music that’s coming out? Whatever happened to Buckingham Nicks?