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Bergeron, Lucic Out vs. Red Wings

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins

BOSTON — Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic will miss Monday night's game against Detroit at TD Garden.

Neither player was on the ice for morning skate, and afterward, Head Coach Claude Julien said both are still classified as day-to-day but will not be available versus the Red Wings.

"We’ve had challenges all year," Julien said, "so just another one."

Bergeron left the bench during Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Columbus with what Julien deemed a “very, very minor” injury. Bergeron also missed Sunday’s practice at TD Garden.

Lucic missed Sunday’s practice as well but played the entirety of Saturday night’s game.

Given the injuries, center David Krejci skated alongside Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith on Monday morning and projects to center Bergeron’s usual linemates when the puck drops against Detroit.

“We skated this morning together as a line, so it looks like we might be playing together, but who knows?” Krejci said. “I haven’t talked to Bergy or Milan today, so I don’t know how they’re doing, but if I end up playing with those guys, I’m excited.

“They’re two pretty skilled and quick, fast players, and they’re very smart, so I’m just going to try to play my game, and I’m sure they’re going to try to play their game. Hopefully we can click early on and create some scoring chances for the team and give the team a chance to win the game.”

Smith began his Bruins career on the third line but became a mainstay of the Bergeron line after Loui Eriksson went down with his second concussion of the season in December 2013.

Given last summer’s roster flux, though, Smith suspected that this season, he might get a chance to skate with Krejci, and he was right.

“Losing [Jarome Iginla], I guess there’s always an opportunity to kind of scramble the lineups a little bit, so I figured at some time, I’d probably play with [him],” Smith said. “I don’t even think we’ve played a 4-on-4 shift together, so hopefully it doesn’t take us too long to start clicking tonight.”

Though the loss of Lucic and Bergeron is obviously a hit to this team, it is not the first challenge the Bruins have faced during an injury-riddled season, and as a result, they are continuing to view this challenge as yet another opportunity to come together as a team.

“You can take a lot of positives out of it,” Smith said. “I think we did it earlier in the year, when we had a couple other guys that were out of the lineup — Krech and [Zdeno Chara] — and I think we battled together and we kind of went to bat for each other a few games.

“It was good to see because you can build a team around that, and this is the time of the season when you’ve got to come together, and we’ve got to start stringing some wins together, for sure.”

Still Hungry

Following Sunday’s practice at TD Garden, the focus was on the Bruins’ hunger to climb the standings and get back in position for a playoff spot. After Monday’s skate, they reiterated that the drive and the desire is still there — it’s just a matter of putting the words into action and ensuring that desire translates into wins.

“I think we’re just not who we are, or who we want to be,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “There’s a lot of times you look around this locker room, and guys aren’t pulling their side of the rope, and we’ve just got to get better at that. I think we’re a determined group right now to get back where we need to be.”

Though there have perhaps been times when it has been difficult not to, the Bruins have refused to use injuries as an excuse for their current position in the Eastern Conference standings, and in light of the latest blow, that continues to be the case.

“At this point of the year, at the position we’re at right now, it’s a challenge itself,” Krejci said. “We’ve just got to go out there and not think about tomorrow or yesterday — just play the game, play as hard as you can, and if you do that, you’re going to come out on top most nights.”

Julien pointed to commitment as the most dire area of improvement as the B’s encroach upon on the second half of the season.

“Obviously, there’s a couple things: We need to be a little bit harder and more committed,” Julien said. “Do the things that we have to do to win hockey games. It’s not so much one area where we’re weak; it’s just our game as a whole needs a little bit more. We need to be hungrier and a little bit harder.”

Krug seconded that notion. The Bruins have been trying, but that hasn’t always come through in their performances of late; now, they need to be committed to delivering results.

“It’s something that we definitely need more of,” he said. “In the past, we were a team that was tough to play against, especially coming into our home building. Teams didn’t enjoy playing against us. It’s something we need to get back to, and hopefully moving forward, it’s something we’re going to find.

“We’re definitely going to dig deep and try to bring that out in ourselves. Look around this group — we have all the pieces in here to be a winning team, and we’ve just got to find that.”

Renewed Rivalry

The Bruins know they are always in for a tough test when the Red Wings are on tap, and the feeling is mutual.

“They’re a good team,” said Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist. “It’s always fun playing Boston — coming in here, the crowd’s good, and it’s a fun team to play against. It’s always close games. They play physical.

“It’s a big game for us — a division game. We want to keep them behind us in the standings. They’re obviously chasing us, so they’re going to be hungry and we’ve got to be ready for them when the game starts.”

Last season, the Bruins faced Detroit in the first round of the postseason, and back then, the roles were somewhat reversed. The Red Wings were depleted by injuries but made a strong push down the stretch to work their way into the postseason, and though they put up a fight against Boston, the B’s took the series four games to one.

Given the divisional realignment, the rivalry between these two clubs has been renewed over the course of the last season and a half, as has a mutual respect between thesetwo teams. Whenever they hit the ice, both teams seem to bring everything they have, and that makes for exciting hockey.

“Anytime you go through a playoff series and you go through a lot of tight games like we did against them, and overtime games, I think those [rivalries] are definitely rekindled,” Krug said. “It’s always a fun, exciting matchup when we play them. It’s a fast game, and there’s not much space on the ice, and I think both teams look forward to that challenge.”

As it stands, the Red Wings are in second place in the Atlantic Division and fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams know what is at stake in this matchup.

“We know who they are,” said Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock. “I didn't think our playoff series went hard enough and long enough to really create a rivalry, to be honest. I didn't think we held up our part of the bargain.

“It's a new year and new opportunity. All games we've played against them, they're always organized and play hard and we're going to have to be hard and be organized if we want to have success.”

Fraser Claimed by Edmonton

On Sunday afternoon, the Bruins waived forward Matt Fraser, and on Monday, he was claimed by the Edmonton Oilers.

“This is such a great team to be a part of, such great guys to be a part of, and it’s tough leaving," Fraser said on Monday afternoon. "But at the same time, hopefully there’s an opportunity for me in Edmonton.

“With only having spent this amount of time with the Bruins, you certainly grasp how professional this dressing room is, and how everyone carries themselves every day — and not just the players. The training staff, and the management [too].”

On Monday afternoon, the Bruins recalled forward Matt Lindblad from Providence to fill the roster spot.

Monday’s Projected Lineup vs. Detroit

Brad MarchandDavid KrejciReilly Smith

Chris KellyCarl SoderbergLoui Eriksson

Daniel Paille -- Gregory Campbell -- Jordan Caron

Matt Lindblad -- Craig Cunningham -- Seth Griffith

Zdeno Chara -- Dougie Hamilton

Matt Bartkowski -- Dennis Seidenberg

Torey Krug -- Kevan Miller

Adam McQuaid -- Zach Trotman

Projected Starting Goaltender: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Niklas Svedberg

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