SAN JOSE, Calif. - If you see Noel Acciari coming at you, get the heck out of the way.
It's a safe bet that is the message beginning to trickle through the NHL as the 25-year-old human wrecking ball builds his status as one of the league's heaviest hitters.
Never has that been more apparent than during the Bruins current West Coast road trip. The Rhode Island native delivered a career-high 10 hits in Boston's loss to Anaheim and continued to wreak havoc in the B's win over Los Angeles, despite being credited with only three checks.
"I think there's enjoyment in it for him. You watch him, he does it with a smile on his face," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said as his team prepped for Saturday night's game with the San Jose Sharks.
"It's not always a fun thing to do. You'd rather have the puck and make plays and probably go stick check guys and steal it from them, but he enjoys it….it's certainly a skill to be able to do it at full speed and drive through players."
Video: Noel Acciari talks about his return to the lineup
For Acciari, the enjoyment comes when he realizes the impact his physical play has on his teammates.
"My smile gets bigger when I get back to the bench and see the guys all jacked up," said Acciari, who also potted his first goal of the season against Anaheim on Wednesday night. "I don't mind it, it's part of my game. That's what got me here. Nothing is going to change with that. I like to boost the team with it and it makes it easy for guys to play with me and turn pucks over."
Acciari is averaging 4.4 hits per game, which ranks first in the league among those that have played in at least five games. And his heavy play has certainly gained the attention of Boston's opponents. Against the Kings, Acciari was involved in several scrums and appeared to be invited to scrap on more than one occasion.
"I might be, I'm not sure," Acciari said when asked if he has begun to develop a reputation as one of the league's better body-checkers. "But it's not going to change my game. I'm going to continue throwing the big hits if I can, if it's there. I'm not going to go out of my way looking for it, but when it's there I'm going to try and hit."
Acciari knows eventually he'll have to drop the gloves, but having played just five games since returning from a broken finger any fisticuffs will have to wait.
"I'm not afraid to drop 'em. I'm coming back from an injury to the hand," said Acciari, who is still dealing with some soreness. "I don't want to set myself back anymore than I did. Once I feel that my hand is ready I have no problem to step up…it's just right now I didn't think it was the right time, a close game too. I don't think my hand is ready right now just six weeks out."
For now, the Bruins are just happy to have his presence back in the lineup.
"He's a guy we missed. He can turn the tide of the game, in terms of momentum, the physicality part, especially playing these big teams out West," said Cassidy. "You've got to match them hit for hit…he's getting opportunities around the net and it's something you need to score goals against heavy teams, you've got to play inside. It gives us both dynamics."
Krug Still Out
Torey Krug will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury.
"Still listed as day-to-day so hopefully Wednesday [against New Jersey] he's ready to go, but won't play tonight," said Cassidy.
Cassidy also said the team will know more about the conditions of Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork when it returns to Boston on Monday. But Boston's bench boss did say that his "understanding is Marchy is closer [to a return] than Bjork."
Video: Doby is set to start in Saturday's game at San Jose
Cassidy confirmed that he will ice the same lineup as he did on Thursday night in Los Angeles, with Anton Khudobin between the pipes and Matt Beleskey as the healthy scratch.
Danton Heinen - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Peter Cehlarik
Frank Vatrano - Riley Nash - Noel Acciari
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Jordan Szwarz
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Rob O'Gara - Brandon Carlo
Paul Postma - Kevan Miller