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Julien Returns; Bergeron & Eriksson Travel While Rask Stays Back

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - When the Bruins gathered for practice at TD Garden on Tuesday, Olympic medalists Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson and Tuukka Rask had not yet joined the group.

However, Bergeron and Eriksson were both set to travel with the team to Buffalo and are expected in the lineup against the Sabres on Wednesday night.

Rask is staying back in Boston to get more rest after returning from Sochi.

"Bergy and Loui [Eriksson] are meeting us at the plane. They’re going to come and play [in Buffalo]," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following Tuesday's skate that marked his first back with the team since coming back from the Olympics.

"With Tuukka, I’ll use [Chad] Johnson tomorrow and [Niklas] Svedberg will back him up. So we’ve left Tuukka behind, and he’s going start his workouts tomorrow, maybe off-ice, and then Thursday on the ice with us."

Olympians David Krejci and Zdeno Chara returned to practice with the Bruins on Monday, and though they too are still feeling the effects of the nine-hour time difference and travel, they'll be ready to go on Wednesday night. The three days or so of rest before hitting the ice again will have helped.

"I think those guys handled it well, the way they got their rest. Like everybody else, I think was in bed by 8:00, 8:30 yesterday, and got a good night’s sleep. Feel good today," said Julien. "I think Loui said the same thing, but you know, it’s going to take a little while."

"We gave Zdeno and Krech, I think they got back Thursday, we gave them till Monday, a few days, and if they need more, I’ll give them more."

"But the players want to play, so it’s hard to take them out of games. We’ve got some practice days, and [Loui and Patrice] can skate the morning of the game [on Wednesday], so I’ll find other ways to give them their rest, and at the end of the day everything’s going to be okay."

Julien Energized Upon Return

While the Olympians will still be trying to get in their rest, Julien has come back energized from his place behind the Team Canada bench helping them defend gold.

"I’m ready to go here, and I’m looking forward to getting back with my team and getting back into games," said Julien.

"Right now I feel no effects, and if anything, the excitement over there really energized me coming back, and I’m looking forward to trying to accomplish the same thing here with this Bruins team."

When the Olympians do all hit the ice with a rested and refocused group, they too may find some renewed energy from the high level of competition overseas.

"With that experience, they'll be going pretty fast," smiled Dougie Hamilton, on the adjustment back to the smaller ice. "So I think as a group, just try to get back into it right away, get a good start [against Buffalo] and have a good month and a half."

"We know we have a lot of great players on this team and those guys were very fortunate to win medals," said Brad Marchand, who kept a close eye on Bergeron, his centerman and fellow Canadian, in addition to his other teammates. "And it's an incredible accomplishment, but now that they're back, we all have to come together again and continue to play like we did before the break."

"We were playing really well and hopefully we can use their experiences to benefit us and carry us down the stretch."

And now, with the bench boss back, you're all back in line?

"Haha yeah, we've got to be on our best behavior now that he's back," joked Marchand. "No, it's so lighthearted out there. As long as we're playing well and we're doing our jobs, then we can enjoy ourselves, so it's a lot more fun that way."

Just like it was before the break.

Olympic Rave Reviews

Zdeno Chara and David Krejci both raved about their experience in Sochi, and Julien followed suit, even if his time was made sweeter by winning the gold with Canada.

"I just enjoyed the experience, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing that you wish everybody could experience at least once," said Julien.

Bergeron won gold along with him, while Eriksson claimed the silver and Rask brought home bronze.

On Tuesday, when speaking with reporters at TD Garden, Julien was asked about the trio of medalists and their roles for their countries.

"He was one of our best players, and I’m not afraid to say that," he said of Bergeron. "He came in and his line, in that first game with [Jamie] Benn and [John] Tavares was probably our best line. And he was playing so well he ended up moving up on the [Sidney] Crosby line and basically brought some good stability to that line, and they were much better from then on."

"He’s such a complete player, and it’s nice to see that now he’s seen that same way on a bigger stage, and now there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is."

Eriksson played in a top line role for his Sweden squad as well, logging major minutes, especially with their injuries up front.

"Loui was also one of their best players. You know, he played on the top line, he did a great job," said Julien. "I thought, when we left here, I really enjoyed Loui’s progression from his injury, and going to Sochi and seeing him play with his team, he was even better there, so I’m looking forward to seeing him back in our lineup."

"Tuukka, I mean, they really missed Tuukka in that game against Sweden," Julien continued, moving on to the Bruins' net minder's play between the pipes. "Not to say the other goaltender wasn’t a good one, but Tuukka had been playing really well for them. Against us, had it not been for him, I felt the score would’ve been a lot different."

"So he’s really played well and he was good on the big stage as well."

With these confident Olympians now joining their recharged teammates, the Bruins got the results they had been hoping for, looking back on the two-week break.

"Our players represented us extremely well here and I’m really proud of them," said Julien.

McQuaid "Really Close"

Adam McQuaid continues to inch closer to a return, after missing the team's past nine games with a leg injury.

"He’s really close," said Julien. "If things keep going well, by the weekend, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we should really have the real good news. But tomorrow [against Buffalo], I would say doubtful."

For the Bruins, the puck drops on the rest of the NHL regular season on Wednesday night in Buffalo at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).

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