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David Krejci Skates with Team for First Time Since Injury

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins - David Krejci rejoined his teammates on Tuesday morning, taking part in his first skate with the team since sustaining his left knee injury on Feb. 20.

Krejci first started skating a week ago, on March 10, under the watchful eyes of Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides.

The center has missed 11 games with due to partially torn MCL in his left knee which has now been on the mend for three and a half weeks. He'll miss his 12th straight game on Tuesday, when the Bruins host the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.

By all accounts, Krejci is progressing well, and inching closer to a return, that could come as early as this weekend, depending on how he continues to feel.

"You know, he was able to skate with us today because of line rushes and all that," said Head Coach Claude Julien, pointing to there being no contact drills during the customary pregame skate.

"So, he's progressing well," he said. "I don't know exactly how close he is [to returning] - is he a possibility for the weekend? I think the earliest would probably be the weekend, at the earliest, and maybe even more."

The Bruins still have 12 games remaining in the regular season after Tuesday's tilt with Buffalo. Whenever Krejci does return, he'll still have a string of games to get himself back into the grind.

"We've still got quite a stretch here before even thinking about the playoffs or getting to the playoffs, so he'll have some games in," said Julien.

The next step for Krejci will be taking part in practices, and then taking full contact. If that contact part doesn't come until the weekend, his return to the lineup will likely come next week.

"It depends how he comes out of these next few days here," said Julien.

Krejci's timetable was originally estimated to be four to six weeks. He's trending more towards four.

"You know what? I don't really have a timeline. I just take it day by day and whenever it feels 100 percent, I'll be back," Krejci said following Tuesday's skate.

"I feel pretty comfortable that I'll be back soon and I can still play a bunch of games, so that should be enough to get myself ready for playoffs."

The Bruins have gone 8-2-1 in his absence, picking up points in eight straight games before Sunday's 2-0 loss to Washington.

"Yeah the whole team's doing well, the line's doing well, so it can take a little pressure off of myself, you know, just watching the games, it's good to see the guys doing well," said Krejci. "Just for me, just going to work hard and once I get back, I'll try to fit in, you know, try to just fit in and be back with the guys."

While the line of Milan Lucic, Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak has been producing amid Krejci's recovery, there's no doubt the centerman will add an offensive and defensive boost to the lineup upon his return.

If that trio continues to produce, though, it could make for interesting - and tough - lineup decisions for Julien and his staff.

"I’ve thought about it, I haven’t made up my mind where [he would slot back in] and stuff like that," said Julien, who noted he'll share more when the time comes. "Instead of starting to speculate stuff like that, I could tell something today and may change my mind tomorrow. I’ve thought about it and it’s not easy."

"Guys that are in the lineup are playing well. You have to make a good decision there. It’s not a decision that I think I’m ready to make today, but certainly thinking about it."

As for Krejci, he's taking the team-first approach.

"I'm open to whatever. I'll play where coach puts me, and I'm going to try to do my best," he said.

Connolly Starts Skating

Brett Connolly started skating in his recovery from his broken right index finger sustained in his second practice with the team on March 4.

Tuesday marked his second straight day on the ice with Whitesides. Connolly wasn't wearing a glove on his right hand, which still has a cast on it.

"Second day [skating]," Julien confirmed. "[Monday] he skated just skates on for 20 minutes. Nothing, no sticks no drills just went out there and skated."

Connolly's recovery will be very similar to Torey Krug's earlier in the season. The conditioning and skating will progress for a while, but his return will all depend on how his finger heals, and when he feels he's able to grip his stick, get his shot off and engage in battles.

In the meantime, he'll continue being the team's "biggest fan" as they push down the final stretch of the regular season.

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