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Eriksson Back at Practice, Lucic Expected to Join Team in New York

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, Mass. - Loui Eriksson was back at practice on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, as the Bruins hit the ice before traveling to New York City in anticipation of Wednesday's matchup with the Rangers.

Eriksson had been battling a stiff neck from taking a hit late in the third period of Saturday's eventual 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. He missed Monday's practice as a result.

"It's all right. I got treatments on it yesterday and felt better today when I woke up, so I felt good on the ice today," said Eriksson. "So it was a good day."

Luckily for the forward and his concussion history, the hit didn't affect his head. There was no worry from him in that regard.

"I didn't feel any headaches at all when I got hit," said Eriksson. "Felt my neck start burning so I was a little bit scared that something happened but as I went in [to the locker room], it felt better and it's been good today so it's a good thing."

Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg were also back on the ice, after taking maintenance days along with Eriksson on Monday. Julien had anticipated all three Bruins would be at practice, and making the trip to New York, so it's a good sign that there was nothing to deter that.

Though those three returned, Milan Lucic was absent from Tuesday's practice.

"He's just got the flu," Head Coach Claude Julien said. "He's not going to come with us today, but we'll probably work on him joining us tomorrow, just to keep him away from the players for now. So he should be OK for tomorrow, unless something worse happens, but that's the verdict that I got.

Jordan Caron slotted into Lucic's spot for practice alongside David Krejci and Reilly Smith.

Right Wing Switch Still Sticking

Since Julien swapped his top three right wingers during the Bruins' 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Jan. 29, the switches have stayed put.

As of Tuesday, Smith stayed with Krejci. Eriksson remained with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, while David Pastrnak skated with Kelly and Carl Soderberg. Eriksson was originally pegged for that spot at the start of the 2013-14 season and was starting to find his stride there, before suffering his first concussion less than a month in. That same initial chemistry looks to be coming back.

"The one thing that i notice, he's skating a lot better, he seems to be flying through the neutral zone and he controls the puck down low really well," said Marchand. "And he's making some really, really nice plays. So he's been great to play with so far, and hopefully we can continue to produce."

"It's been good, I think we've been playing pretty good and we're getting chances and playing good defensively too," said Eriksson. "So it's two good players to play with, and when they're on the top of their games, they're the best in the League at that they do, so it's been good."

Though the line switches originally came about because of Isles Head Coach Jack Capuano trying to match John Tavares' line against the less experienced Pastrnak, the byproduct of Smith's and Eriksson's strong play hasn't been lost on Julien.

"As long as it works, why would you change it? But we know that there's other options if need be, but you work with your lineup, and as far as [the Krejci] line's concerned, it's shown a little bit more and I haven't seen any reason right now to change others either," said Julien. "Pastrnak has done well, too, he's starting to get a little bit of chemistry with Carl for the time being."

"So we'll see how it goes and we deal with our situation as far as where we are int eh standings, game by game, I take that same approach with my lineup, game by game and period by period, and adjust when I need to."

Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Craig Cunningham continue to give the Bruins depth and stability as a fourth line.

Subban Broadway Bound

Goaltender Malcolm Subban remains with Boston and will be traveling to New York. Initially, his recall was thought to be a weekend stay, while Niklas Svedberg played games in Providence on a conditioning loan.

Svedberg backstopped Providence in back-to-back games against Worcester on Jan. 30 and 31, picking up a win and a loss. He made 25 saves in the 5-4 win on Friday night, before stopping 28 of 31 shots in Saturday's 3-2 loss. His most recent game with Boston had come on Jan. 7.

The P-Bruins next play on Friday night in Providence. With the Bruins facing a back-to-back this weekend at TD Garden against the Islanders and Montreal Canadiens, it's likely that Svedberg would be back with Boston by the weekend after his conditioning stint and ready to suit up.

Rask Named Third Star for January

Tuukka Rask was named the NHL's Third Star for January after backstopping the Bruins with a 7-3-1 record. Through his 11 appearances, he allowed just 18 goals for a 1.64 goals-against average and stopped 336 of 354 shots for a .949 save percentage.

When asked following Tuesday's practice if he thinks he's raised his game, Rask said, "Probably. I think we're consistently getting points and keeping the goals against down, but then again, it's just, it's not me, it's everybody else out there, too."

"We have been better and I think the biggest thing has been we've fought through some tough periods within the games and early in the season, we kind of deflated. Now we battle back and never let our guard down and that's made a huge difference."

Hitting Their Stride

The Bruins hit the road for New York having won eight of their past 10 games. But the Rangers present an even tougher test than when the B's faced them at TD Garden on Jan. 15, pulling out a 3-0 win. The Blueshirts have won 10 of their past 14 games.

Both teams are in for another battle, with the Bruins looking to clamp down defensively on the speedy Rangers and continue pacing themselves in the standings, where they sit in the first Wild Card playoff spot.

"We just have to continue working hard," said Eriksson. "We're winning battles, we're playing good teams, we're following the system more and that's why we have success, so it's definitely going to be tough games coming up that we need to win. We know where we are in the standings and everything, so it's definitely going to be a good test against New York."

Intensity Still High

How does one tell if the Bruins are still in intensity mode, and not complacency mode?

As practice was coming to an end using a battling drill, Captain Zdeno Chara wasn't happy with himself, after letting a goal in while protecting the house. He proceeded to slam his stick on the crossbar until it broke into pieces.

Some of his teammates had a good laugh out of it afterwards, with Julien slyly smiling to himself as the team circled up for their standard stretch around the faceoff circle at center ice. But you could tell Big Zee's intensity, and easily see how something as small as that speaks volumes to the team.

"I've never seen a stick break twice," Dougie Hamilton smiled as he sat in his stall next to Chara's following practice.

Practice Lineup Feb. 3

White Jerseys: Jordan Caron - David Krejci - Reilly Smith

Gold: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson

Gray: Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - David Pastrnak

Burgundy: Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham - Jordan Caron

Defense: Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Matt Bartkowski

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Malcolm Subban

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