BOSTON - After leaving Thursday night's win over Tampa following a heavy hit in the third period, Sean Kuraly has been placed in the NHL's concussion protocol.
As he fought for a puck in the corner, Kuraly took a smack from Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn, sandwiching him between Coburn and Erik Cernak. The collision forced Kuraly back and caused his head to bounce off the shoulder of Cernak, sending the 26-year-old down to the ice briefly, before he eventually retreated to the dressing room under his own power.
Per Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, Kuraly - who has missed just one game so far this season - was "feeling better" on Friday, but did not practice, nor will he play against New Jersey on Saturday night when the Bruins aim to extend their points streak to 16 games.
With Kuraly injured, Peter Cehlarik was once again recalled from Providence on an emergency basis and will play on Saturday alongside Charlie Coyle and David Backes, a trio that worked well together in their lone appearance last Saturday in St. Louis. Joakim Nordstrom will slide down to fill Kuraly's spot with Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner.
"We liked his game," Cassidy said of Cehlarik. "We're trying to get Nordy back in the mix, get his game consistent. Obviously with [Marcus] Johansson here, that bumped Peter as well. But with Kuraly out [on Saturday], Peter's gonna go in. We told him that we liked the way he was going. There's some things that he needs to improve on like everyone else, but he was doing his job.
"He'll play on the left side with Coyle and Backes. I liked them in the St. Louis…we like Pete with [David Krejci] and [Jake] DeBrusk as well."
Patrice Bergeron was given a maintenance day on Friday, marking the second time this week the veteran pivot has stayed off the ice for practice. Cassidy said that it could be a common tactic for the team's veteran players over the final month of the regular season.
"We talked to Krech today, [Brad Marchand], [Zdeno Chara]…weeks like this, we'd rather them not skate day of game," said Cassidy. "So if they go out today and do like a pregame skate for 15 minutes, sometimes the day after a game, as long as you get your sleep, it's easier than going twice the day of a game. We're just trying to manage it.
"There may come a time where you might give them the whole day off and no morning skate, but that kind of depends on the schedule going forward and how they feel, the fatigue level. This has worked for us so far. We'll see how it goes."
Not Quite Miller Time
Kevan Miller will miss his third straight game on Saturday as he continues to deal with an upper-body injury. He did not skate on Friday.
"That's probably lingering a little longer than we thought," said Cassidy. "Doubtful for tomorrow. Hopefully he'll be back on the ice [on Saturday morning]."
Pack Up the Suitcase?
Cassidy did not rule out the possibility that Lee Stempniak - signed to a one-year deal with an AAV of $650,000 last Sunday - could make his way into the Bruins lineup at some point before the end of the regular season. The 36-year-old was signed to a PTO during training camp and spent the regular season practicing with Boston while the team was at home.
Stempniak was placed on waivers after being signed with the purpose of being assigned to Providence to get into game action. The veteran of 13 NHL seasons and 10 teams - including a 19-game stint with Boston in 2015-16 - has produced two goals and two assists in four games with the P-Bruins.
"It's not something we're thinking about every day because we've got [Charlie Coyle] and Johansson first," said Cassidy. "Let's see how they're going, who they play best with. But Lee would be good to get in and see how he is at this level. He hasn't played since training camp. He's playing down there, which is important.
"But the NHL pace, at some point hopefully we have the luxury of doing that. We've liked [Karson] Kuhlman. He went down too, but more out of numbers. But we wouldn't mind seeing what Lee has to offer at some point. Just couldn't tell you when."
The Devils entered Friday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers having lost two of their last three. They are 16 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
New Jersey is paced up front by Kyle Palmieri, who has 48 points and 26 goals in 63 games. Second-year forward Nico Hischier ranks just behind Palmieri with 43 points and 17 goals in 60 games.
Taylor Hall, last year's Hart Trophy winner, has not played since Dec. 23 because of a lower-body injury. The Devils announced that earlier this week the 27-year-old underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
For new Bruins forward Marcus Johansson, acquired from the Devils for a 2019 second-round pick and 2020 fourth-round pick at Monday's trade deadline, playing against his old team so quickly after the deal will admittedly be a bit strange.
"I think it's gonna be a little weird," said Johansson. "Obviously made a lot of good friendships. It's gonna be weird, but I got to do it when I got to Jersey and played Washington, so I kind of know the feeling a little bit, but it's gonna be a little odd at first."