By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON While those in Boston have focused on the newcomers that arrived on the Bruins roster at the trade deadline at the end of February, Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart have done very well for themselves with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Stuart was reunited with former Bruins associate head coach Craig Ramsay in Atlanta, and signed to a multi-year contract extension with a Thrashers team in need of some physical play around the net. Meanwhile Wheeler has put up 13 points (8 goals, 5 assists) in 16 games with Atlanta since the trade, and flourished with plenty of ice time along with the first power play unit and PK teams.
They were good players for us, but they appear to be doing well, said Claude Julien.
Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton and Stuart developed a close friendship while both living in Charlestown over the last few years, and the Bs tough guy was looking forward to seeing the former Bruins first round pick.
Stuey was here as long as Id been here, and wed become really good friends, said Thornton. Itll be a lot different seeing him in that uniform, but Ive heard that theyre doing really well down there.
While Krejci was also excited to see his former longtime linemate in Wheeler coming back to Boston for the first time, the playmaking center honestly said he didnt care much whether Bruins fans gave them an ovation.
I dont care, said Krejci. Itd be nice for them, but well see what happens.
Wheeler is definitely having fun and making the most of it. Thats what he told me when I talked to him. Hes scoring goals and its good to see him doing that, said Krejci. Hes my friend, but once were out on the ice there are no friends. We all get used to it. Its weird, but now its just another game.
Bruins coach Claude Julien was noncommittal about whether Shane Hnidy would play against Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, but the veteran defenseman said hes ready to go and is hoping to get in more than one or two appearances before the season is over.
Hnidy hasnt played all season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery, and needs some ice time to knock the rust off.
Julien said there was a good chance Hnidy would be suiting up for the Black and Gold on Saturday.
Its been a while and I just want to get in for a game. I havent heard anything about it, but Im going to prepare as if Im playing and whatever happens then well deal with it, said Hnidy. When youre away from the game and questioning your future like I was, its a job to be back in any situation you can find.
Im going to need more than one or two games. I know we have five left, but I dont know whether Ill be playing in all of them or not.
Zdeno Chara took part in the team photograph portion of Fridays practice at TD Garden, but didnt take part in any of the on ice drills after the Bs defenseman missed portions of Thursday nights game against the Maple Leafs. Claude Julien said that Chara would be in the lineup Saturday against the Thrashers.
He had a day off, but hell be in tomorrow, said Julien.
Shawn Thornton didnt know whether hed be medically cleared to play against the Thrashers on Saturday afternoon, and said it would be 7-8 days before the stitches were likely to come out of his forehead.
Bruins Director of Hockey Administration and college hockey scout Ryan Nadeau was dressed in Marc Savards uniform to take his spot in the team picture on Friday morning at TD Garden. Savards head will be photo-shopped onto the body while the picture is going through the post-production process as the Bs center continues to battle post-concussion syndrome symptoms at home in Canada.