BOSTON - The Bruins had a new face in the mix on Monday as they returned from their eight-day, bye-week reprieve, with former first-round pick Trent Frederic recalled from Providence and ready to make his NHL debut on Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden.
Frederic skated in 37 games for the P-Bruins this season - his first full professional campaign - tallying 10 goals and 17 points. The 20-year-old St. Louis native had a particularly strong weekend in Providence, picking up two goals and an assist on Friday night in a 5-3 win over Charlotte, while landing six shots on goal over two games.
"What I've heard about Frederic is this past weekend he had a real good weekend," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Playing assertive hockey, some of the best hockey he's played all year. There was a plan all along at the start of the year to take a look at him at some point. We didn't know when that point would be. Some of that is how are the guys doing here, then there was an injury that set him back a little bit. He's healthy and playing well now."
Video: Frederic discusses first NHL callup
Frederic missed nearly a month beginning in mid-November, as he dealt with the effects of a concussion, the first he has suffered in his career. But in recent weeks, the former first-round pick has begun to gain some traction and is feeling much more confident about his game.
"Probably the last month I thought I've been playing well, pretty strong…full games, not just periods here and there, I played well," said Frederic, who credited Providence coaches Jay Leach and Trent Whitfield for helping him adjust to the professional level.
"I'm happy to be here. It's a dream come true, for sure…I guess just playing hard, consistent, playing a kind of physical game that I've been trying to build up to and try to get here."
Frederic manned the middle between Danton Heinen and David Backes during Monday's practice, making the former University of Wisconsin standout the latest to get a shot at solidifying the Bruins' third-line center role. With Frederic recalled, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was assigned to Providence after notching three goals and eight assists in 28 games with the big club this season.
"I thought JFK was improving as well, but not to the point where we felt we couldn't make the switch and it hurt the hockey club," said Cassidy. "So we're gonna take a look at Freddy. A little bigger opponents [Tuesday with Winnipeg], Washington Sunday, Philly [on Thursday], so might be a good time to look at him while he's playing well and the opponents [coming up]. The next two games are at home, we can control a little bit of that.
"I was pleased with JFK's progression. I think there's more there, obviously. He needs to bring that out. But at the end of the day, he was trending in the right direction. Just decided to take a look at Freddy."
Video: Cassidy discusses Rask, Frederic
Ryan Donato was also assigned to Providence on Monday with Peter Cehlarik recalled once again after spending part of the bye week with the P-Bruins. Donato picked up six goals and three assists in 34 games with Boston this season.
"Strong on the puck, strong on his skates, win his puck battles, all-around game," Cassidy said when asked what the winger needs to work on. "I think he had some tough luck here. He generated offense with his shot, scored some of them, rang some off the post, some didn't go in. A little bit of tough luck for him, so that part of his game I think we were OK with.
"Obviously if he's filling the net every night it's a different story. It's just a matter of him working on his overall game and making the plays that are available to him, being better on the walls, all the little things."
Rask to IR
Tuukka Rask was placed on injured reserve on Monday retroactive to Jan. 19 when he suffered a concussion after a nasty collision in the crease with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil. The netminder does, however, appear to be progressing well and could skate with the group on Tuesday morning.
"I don't think it's long-term," said Cassidy. "He won't play [Tuesday]. Hopefully gets on the ice [Tuesday], that's kind of the plan where he's at. Obviously he's day-to-day right now. It will be his call. That's how we see it playing out and if he's on the ice [Tuesday], Thursday becomes a possibility…I think he's doing well, looks good."
In the meantime, Jaroslav Halak will start between the pipes, with Zane McIntyre - recalled from Providence on an emergency basis on Monday - as the backup.
"It depends on Tuukka's health," Cassidy said when asked how long Halak would serve as the starter. "If he's ready to go he's going back in there when he feels he's ready. Again, until he's out there for a full team practice it's hard to speculate."
Video: Halak talks stepping up in Rask's absence
Back From Break
The Bruins hit the ice for the first time since their 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Jan. 19, as they reconvened following the eight-day bye week/All-Star break. Cassidy was pleased with the jump and energy his team showed in what was a spirited hour-long practice.
"I thought guys were in pretty good spirits," said Cassidy. "This is a tight-knit group. I'm sure they're happy to see each other back together. Some of them I'm sure vacationed together, the younger guys, a few skated here a little bit I believe.
"We've got - I don't how to describe 33 [games left] - is it homestretch? Is it second half? Is it somewhere in between? I'd like to think we're excited now, there's a finish line ahead, see where we are, get back to our game.
"I hope that's what's going through their minds, especially [Tuesday] when they come to the rink. Got a good opponent, good challenge right out of the gate."
Joakim Nordstrom rejoined the group for his first practice since suffering a fractured fibula in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. Barring any setbacks from Monday's session, he could be back in the lineup on Tuesday night against the Jets.
"He's progressing well," said Cassidy. "If there's no ill effects he could be available to play. Whether we put him in with not a lot of practice time, that will be the other thing to factor in…progressing very well, very close."
Video: Bruins give update on Rask, transactions
Monday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Peter Cehlarik - David Krejci - Jake DeBrusk
Danton Heinen - Trent Frederic - David Backes
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly/Noel Acciari - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller
John Moore - Steven Kampfer