Following the team's pregame skate in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday morning, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said that Daniel Paille (who was not on the ice for the skate) is now out with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Forward Nick Johnson was recalled on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins and is joining the team today in Calgary (his hometown) for tonight's game.
The Bruins' list of injuries up front also includes Chris Kelly (broken ankle, long-term injured reserve, 4-6 weeks) and Loui Eriksson (concussion, injured reserve).
In regards to the blueline, Julien said today in Calgary that Dougie Hamilton will be out close to 2-4 weeks with his lower-body injury (suffered vs Toronto), after being evaluated by team doctors back in Boston on Monday.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is expected to make his return to the lineup tonight in Calgary, after missing two games while recovering from a back sprain sustained in Montreal last week.
The Bruins have not recalled a defenseman from Providence, and Boychuk rounds out the six defensemen they have available for tonight's game.
"It’s not an injury per say more than it’s muscle spasms, so he’s not going in there afraid to aggravate an injury," said Julien.
"Yesterday, it didn’t feel very good but today I felt pretty much normal out there," Boychuk said following pregame skate.
"It’s been like night and day," he added, on the dramatic turnaround from the way he felt following the game in Montreal. "Today, even just being able to warm up instead of going out there cold, it makes a world of difference and I think it really helped."
Boston had four players battling the flu on Monday, causing them to miss practice at the Saddledome - Zdeno Chara, Gregory Campbell, Kevan Miller, Chad Johnson. All were on the ice for Tuesday's pregame skate and appear good to go for tonight.
Miller is fine after getting hit from behind by Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf on Sunday night, and had no carryover besides a stiff neck. He skated Tuesday morning with the team.
In the wake of these injuries, the Bruins have seen a team-wide effort produce two straight wins over Pittsburgh and Montreal. They still sit atop the Eastern Conference with 42 points, having two games in hand on the Penguins (43 points in 32 games).
Miller, along with Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug, have all taken on larger roles, rounding out the stingy, steady Bruins' defense with Chara and Seidenberg - and now, the welcome addition of Boychuk back in the lineup.
Jordan Caron, along with P-Bruins Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser, have filled in for the forwards, with Nick Johnson being added to the mix tonight. Reilly Smith has stepped into Loui Eriksson's spot to try and fill that void.
What it really comes down to, is "everyone stepping up." No matter how many times that phrase is used, nothing proves truer when faced with likely the largest injury bug the Bruins have seen in Julien's tenure.
"It’s just challenges that you have to go through as a team every year and some years are worse than others," said Julien. "And the last thing you want to do is feel sorry for yourself, the last thing you want to do is find excuses."
"If anything, I think we’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to get an opportunity here, maybe more than just one or two games, to come in here and show that they can play at this level."
"It just means that our team has to step up their game as a whole and be more conscientious that we don’t have all our players and we’re going to need the best out of everybody. So it’s a good challenge for us and in the long run, you hope that it will help you grow as a group and as a team."
With the "less experienced" players coming into the lineup - possibly for an extended time - it also gives the rest of the roster a boost.
"It’s going to be a good character test because we have guys that are battling the flu and what not," said Boychuk. "It’s a good opportunity for younger guys to step up and put a stamp in our game and show them why they’re here right now."
Because right now, it's the only option.
"You have to pull together. You have no other choice," said the defenseman. "You can sit and worry about things or you can go out there and play as a team and create the energy yourself to try to get through this time and play as hard as you can, and hopefully win."
Loui Eriksson Placed on Injured Reserve
When Patrice Bergeron heard from Loui Eriksson via text on Sunday morning, the winger - out with a concussion - was "not feeling so great."
Julien hasn't had a chance to talk with him yet, but he's unfortunately grown accustomed to the process over the years.
"Some of the guys have texted him. Very limited contact with him right now," said Julien. "It’s very early in the concussion stage. You don’t want too much stimulation and stuff like that so it’s been done purposefully."
"I’ll reach out to him when my trainers tell me he’s starting to turn the corner a little bit. I’ll be able to reach out to him, which I’ve done the last time as well."
Johnson's First Recall as a Bruin
Nick Johnson is no stranger to NHL action. The 27-year-old has 104 games of NHL experience with Phoenix and Minnesota, but the game in Calgary marks his first recall as a Boston Bruin.
The winger has skated in 23 games with Providence this season, notching 11 goals (second on the team) and nine assists, with a plus-7 rating.
The Calgary native gets an unexpected homecoming on Tuesday night.
"Yeah, local boy," said Julien pregame. "We liked him at camp. First of all, he’s an experienced guy. He’s played some NHL games, he’s a good competitor, he can do a lot of things for our team which he’s doing for Providence; he kills penalties, he can play power play."
"Just a hardnosed, up and down kind of player and we build our team around guys like that. Those guys, as I mentioned this morning, have to come in and do their share and not just want to sit back and just want to plug in the holes."
"We’re expecting our guys that are getting an opportunity here to step up and help us through this."