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Practice Notebook: Bruins Taking Advantage of Off Days; Florek Remains with Team on Emergency Basis

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA - As the Bruins wrapped up practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday, only two days remain before Game 1 kicks off against Detroit on Friday night at TD Garden.

The late Friday start gives both sides an opportunity to rest, stay sharp and study the opposing team - while the rest of the teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin their series on Wednesday and Thursday.

"I think there's no control over it, so you just have to take it as a positive and just go along with it and try to get ready," Patrice Bergeron said following Wednesday's skate. "Obviously, the coaches have done a great job at getting us ready in the practices and also in the videos, to make sure we know the tendencies of the Red Wings, and just go with it, and be ready for Friday."

Tuukka Rask was also opting to view the extra days as a positive.

"I don't think it's going to hurt. You know, good to get a couple days of practices in, and then be ready to play," said the netminder. "It's important to get that good start, and then just keep the train rolling, so that's what we're looking forward to."

From year to year, playoffs to playoffs, the same core group of Bruins, along with the same coaching staff, have all followed the same process. The experience lends itself to a sense of calm (not complacency) around the team right now, as they know exactly what they need to do to prepare.

"It's always been a real exciting time of year. Obviously with the way we were able to play this season and winning the Presidents' Trophy, there's a lot to look forward to heading into the playoffs this year," said Milan Lucic. "Obviously, a tough challenge with the Detroit Red Wings, who have had playoff success in the past, you saw what they were able to do last year, taking Chicago to seven games."

"Like I said, we're looking forward to the challenge of it, and we get one more day of preparation before it all starts."

Practice Roll Call

On Wednesday, Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson and Andrej Meszaros all returned to practice after missing Tuesday's skate at TD Garden.

Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Kevan Miller and Matt Bartkowski also missed the skate on Tuesday, and all four Bruins remained off the ice on Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena.

While there is no indication of the reasons for their absence, or their status heading into Friday's game, Julien disclosed on Tuesday that a flu bug had hit the team over the weekend.

When asked Wednesday about the situation, Julien responded, "Doing better today, right? So we're getting there."

Florek Remains with Boston

With forwards Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly not on the ice yet this week, Justin Florek was recalled on an emergency basis Tuesday and remains with the team. For Wednesday's practice, he was donning the gray jersey on the third line alongside Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg.

Florek made his NHL debut on January 4 at TD Garden in the Bruins' 4-1 win over Winnipeg. The 6-foot-4, 199-pound forward then joined the Bruins on their January road trip through California, picking up his first NHL goal and assist along the way.

In his second season with Providence, Florek put up 19 goals and 38 points through 69 games this season. He was forced into a top-six role on the P-Bruins in December when injuries in Boston caused several forwards to be called up to the big club. Florek hadn't yet gotten his chance in the Spoked-B, but he continued to work hard, and got the call in January.

"I liked the way he played when he was with us," said Julien. "Against Winnipeg there [in his NHL debut], he did a great job working hard down low, getting to the front of the net, and we scored a goal from a great shot from the point with [him providing] a good screen. He's a big body. Against New Jersey again [in the regular season finale], you can tell, he can battle along the walls. He's a decent skater, a decent playmaker, he had around 20 goals this season in Providence."

"I haven't seen him as much as the people above me have, but they feel that right now he's the guy that could be here to help us if we don't have some of our guys back."

No matter what happens with Boston's lineup, Florek is appreciative of the look he's being given.

"It's something I've worked for my whole life, and especially this year, just trying to get the opportunity to come up here and play and help the team," he said. "So, whatever happens, happens, and if I get the chance, I'll be ready to play."

"I just focus every day on myself and the team and doing whatever I can to help the team," he added. "It's out of my control, so I've just got to be ready to play when the opportunity presents itself."

After Florek made his NHL debut, he had said that one game made all the difference. Just that one day (playing with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell) of NHL action made him a more confident player.

So, what the biggest difference between the January Justin Florek, and the one now, possibly getting a shot to suit up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

"Just knowing that I can play," he said. "That's probably the biggest thing at this level."

"It was good to get in there for a couple of games during the regular season, play with the guys, get up to speed and everything, get strong on pucks, so it's something I focused on when I went back to Providence and now I feel I can bring it to the NHL level."

Wednesday's Practice Lineup

White Jerseys: Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla

Gold: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith

Gray: Justin Florek - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson

Merlot: Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Defense: Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Andrej Meszaros, Corey Potter

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson

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