BOSTON, MA - It appears that the Bruins are on the mend, and finally getting over the flu bug that began to hit the team last weekend around the final two games of the regular season.
When the Black & Gold hit the ice for practice on Saturday at TD Garden, between Games 1 and 2 against Detroit, Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller rejoined the group. Boston was without both blueliners for Game 1.
The practice marked Bartkowski's first time back skating with the team since the regular season finale on April 13. Miller had come back for practice on Thursday, but was absent for the team's optional pregame skate on Friday and did not suit up in Game 1 that night.
Does Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien expect that they will be available for Game 2?
"I don't know yet," he told reporters following the team's Saturday practice at the Garden. "Bartkowski, this is his first day of practicing this week, and Miller, this is his second, so it will depend on how they feel tomorrow [Sunday]. We've got contingency plans here, whether they play or not. So, confirmation - I can't give that to you today."
For Game 1, Boston was also without Daniel Paille (undisclosed) and Chris Kelly (back) up front. Kelly has not skated since April 8 against the Minnesota Wild.
Paille, meanwhile, hit the ice for the second straight day on Saturday with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides before the team practiced. There is no timetable for his return.
Seidenberg, McQuaid Continue Skating
Joining Paille on the ice were Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. The two defensemen first began skating lightly the week of April 8, and since then, have been off and on hitting the ice with Coach Whitesides before the Bruins' practices.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli has been cautious about both of their recoveries.
"We’re not counting on Dennis to be back, we’re going to be very cautious with this injury," Chiarelli told media prior to the Bruins' first round series with the Red Wings. "He has been skating and that’s pretty much all I can say on it. It really hasn’t changed."
There is also no further clarity on McQuaid's situation.
"Adam’s injury, he was close to coming back then he had a setback, close to coming back had a setback. So again, we want to be careful on it," Chiarelli said, during the same press conference. "It is not a major injury; it is a soft tissue injury and we’ve been doing okay with the D we have so we want to be cautious with it."
Faith in Depth
In the lead-up to Game 1 against Detroit on Friday night, Head Coach Claude Julien didn't know exactly who would be fit enough to get into the lineup.
"Well, you know, again, injuries are part of the game. We kind of had to wait the whole day to find out who was in, who was out. We’ve had surprises all week long with the flu bug going around, so it was nice that we were able to get 20 guys," Julien said following the Bruins' 1-0 loss to Detroit, in which Pavel Datsyuk was the only player to find the back of the net.
Corey Potter, Andrej Meszaros, Justin Florek and Jordan Caron all slotted in to fill the void with Bartkowski, Miller, Kelly and Paille out of the lineup. Florek and Potter both made their NHL playoff debuts.
"The guys that stepped in certainly did a good job and we just have to adjust," Julien said postgame.
"It's one of those things you can't control," said Patrice Bergeron. "We've dealt with it before, so it wasn't something that we put any emphasis on at the beginning of the game, and we just have to go with it, so we have enough depth in here and we believe in everyone that we can all do the job."
The Bruins are an experienced group. After a 1-0 loss in Game 1 on Friday, they were the same calm, determined group on Saturday, knowing that on Sunday, they need to find a way to win. That will come from finding ways to create scoring chances against the Wings and Jimmy Howard first.
"We're fine," said Julien. "I mean, this is a seven-game series, and you certainly don't get down on ourselves because of a 1-0 loss that could have gone either way."
"It just shows you how tight and close it is; we just have to be better in certain areas that we talked about this morning and that we hopefully will be able to bring to the game tomorrow, and if we do that, hopefully the outcome will change."
Saturday's Practice Lineup
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Gold: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Gray: Justin Florek - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Merlot: Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Defense: Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Corey Potter, Andrej Meszaros
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson