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

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.