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Bear Essentials: March 27th

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
2:10 p.m.

New England hockey fans got quite a shock this morning when Phil Kessel did not take the ice for a pre-flight practice.

"He's not going to play this weekend," said B's head coach Claude Julien when asked about his winger's absence. "We're going to 'assess' it as an undisclosed injury that's going to be reassessed at the the beginning of next week.

"We really feel at this stage that it's probably better to be cautious...[and] we're going to give him the weekend off."

Asked repeatedly about the injury, Julien wouldn't budge.

"It's an undisclosed injury," he said, before he apologized and said, "Guys, I wish I could, but there's situations where I have to leave it at that."

1:40 p.m.
Will Denis menace?
The Providence Bruins announced that defenseman Denis Reul has been signed to an Amateur Tryout Agreement.

Reul’s first action for Providence will mark his professional debut.

Reul, 19, joins Providence following his second full season with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This year, the rookie posted offensive career-highs with four goals, 14 assists and 18 points in 60 games. Reul’s season ended on Wednesday after going scoreless in four playoff games as Lewiston was swept out of the postseason by the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The defenseman missed some time during the regular season while playing for his native Germany in the World Junior Championships.

In two seasons for Lewiston, Reul totaled seven goals, 25 assists and 32 points, along with 190 penalty minutes in 127 games. He added 14 PIM while going scoreless in 10 playoff games overall. A native of Marktredwitz, Germany, Reul was selected 130th overall by the Boston Bruins in round five of the 2007 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

12:23 p.m.
Phil Kessel has an undisclosed injury and will not play this weekend. Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien revealed that the right wing will skip the games versus Toronto and Philadelphia.

11:01 a.m.
Phil Kessel is the only no-show at practice.

10:23 a.m.
The B's are slowly streaming onto the ice, with Zdeno Chara having already completed a shooting drill with assistant coach Doug Houda.

Early Morning Update...

Remembering my time at the Beanpot schools, and the anticipation that built from the morning following last weekend’s games on through 7:00 p.m. on Friday or Saturday night of the next weekend, I was pretty prepared to have some time on my hands this week.

Just under one season out of college, I spoke to Blake Wheeler on Thursday morning and the big forward had to (laughingly) agree with that assessment when he was asked if he were especially accustomed to this week’s schedule.

“Yah, this is exactly what happens [in] the college lifestyle,” said Wheeler with a big smile. “You know, I’d prefer playing more games, but obviously it’s been a long year and at this time of the year it is phenomenal to be able to just take a step back and get a breather – mentally and physically.

“But you find yourself getting really excited to play again, so it’s going to be fun to get back out there on Saturday.”

I asked Blake if he had any worries about the “the wall” that has been blamed for a slowdown in his personal statistics.

Wheeler said he didn’t necessarily see any wall, but he has admitted to a certain amount of newness to the length of schedule and pointed to the natural ups-and-downs of the team over the year.

“It’s hard to describe because it’s not something where you mentally say ‘Oh wow, I feel something different,’” he said. “I think that with the way our team was playing at the beginning of the year – things were just going so well.

“And then when things weren’t going well they WEREN’T going well.

“So, I guess you could call it ‘the wall’ or whatever you want to call it, but I think it’s something that every young player goes through and you just have to, more than anything, just kind of relax – that’s how you fight through it.”

Wheeler added, “Sometimes I try to do too much.”

That said, Wheeler was recently acknowledged by Bruins head coach Claude Julien as one of the reasons why the B’s got off to such a strong start and won the Northeast Division. Still, Blake remained humble.

“You know what, for me, I think the season is just starting,” he said. “We’ve played how many games? Seventy-something games. It really doesn’t matter how you play in the first 70 games, because the most important games of the year are starting to come up.

“We have a great leadership group that is making that known that it’s time for everyone to bring their game to a different level and for everyone to contribute. And that’s what we need. We need everyone to contribute in different ways to be successful.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about who scored the goal or who got the assist, it’s about your team getting the win.”
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