Lucic and Ference 'questionable'; Stuart 'ready'

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Lucic and Ference 'questionable'; Stuart 'ready'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference were not present at Bruins practice on Friday afternoon at Ristuccia Arena, but Mark Stuart was back skating with the team after participating in Thursday's morning skate.

Lucic has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, and coach Claude Julien said after Friday's practice that he's "day-to-day" after skating prior to the team's practice session.

Julien said Lucic is "questionable" for Saturday afternoon's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the TD Garden, but after that is expecting some good news because the power forward is "progressing well," according to the Bruins' coach.

Ference never returned for the third period of Thursday night's game against the Flyers, and he is also questionable for Saturday. Julien said the defenseman was dealing with an "upper body" injury and is "day-to-day."

"Ference is very questionable for Saturday, but after that, we're hoping it's minor enough that we'll see him back soon," said Julien after Friday's practice.

"Lucic is obviously another guy who's going to be questionable for Saturday, but I think after that we can expect hopefully some good news, because he's progressing well," said the B's coach.

Emergency call-up Matt Bartkowski was one of seven defensemen at Friday's practice, with Stuart (hand) being a full participant.

Julien said after practice that Stuart still hasn't been cleared to play, medically.

"He's been cleared to practice, but he hasn't been medically cleared to play," said Julien. "So it's certainly not my decision right now, as we speak."

Stuart, whose latest hand x-rays showed his fractured finger to be "progressing really well," said that he didn't have any restrictions on Friday, and that his hand has healed enough to play in a game.

"I believe it is, but that's not up to me," said Stuart.

"That's Stuey being Stuey," said Julien. "He'd play with a broken arm if you let him. That's the kind of person he is . . . That's just a player who's anxious to want to get back. But we respect him for that, because that's the kind of guy he is. He'll do whatever it takes to play, and then to be a part of this team."

Blake Wheeler hit the ice in pain midway through Friday's practice, forcing the Bruins' medical staff to run over with towels, as Wheeler held his face.

He said after the practice that he took a Daniel Paille wrist shot off the cheek bone.

"It crippled me pretty quick,' said Wheeler. "Now I know what it's like to be a boxer."

There was no blood after the fact, making his "hitting the deck" practice act a little embellished.

Teammate David Krejci gave Wheeler a hard time after practice, and told Wheeler to show the media a small, red welt on his stomach, while poking fun at his reaction to getting the wind knocked out of him earlier in the week.

"You'll probably be a game-time decision for Saturday," joked Krejci.

Here's how the practice roster looked on Friday:

Ryder -- Savard -- HortonWheeler -- Krejci --SeguinMarchand -- Bergeron -- RecchiPaille -- Campbell -- ThorntonChara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, Stuart, Kampfer, McQuaid, and Bartkowski on the blue line.Thomas -- Rask

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.