By Danny Picard
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