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

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats