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Practice Notebook: Johnny Boychuk Skates, B's Prep for Avs

by Jess Isner / Boston Bruins

DENVER — The Bruins hit the ice for an optional skate on Thursday morning in preparation for Friday’s matchup against Colorado.

The bulk of the Bruins decided to stay off, but defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who had not skated since March 15 against Carolina, did participate.

Boychuk went awkwardly into the boards in the third period of that game against the Hurricanes, and while he was able to finish it out after briefly coming off the ice, this is the first time he has skated with his teammates since.

After the skate, Head Coach Claude Julien said he was not yet ready to make a decision on whether or not Boychuk would play against the Avalanche on Friday.

“This is his first time on the ice. We'll have to chat after he gets off, and then tomorrow is another skate, so we'll evaluate him day by day, like we talked about,” Julien said. “Again, if he's not 100 percent, there's no reason why he should play, and certainly again, in the situation we're in, our guys that have played on D have been pretty good overall."

“We've had a good group of guys, guys in and out. They come in, do a job, and so no need to rush things here.”

Last time out against New Jersey, Bruins defenseman Corey Potter made his Bruins' debut. The B's had acquired him off waivers at the trade deadline. Julien said he was impressed with Potter’s performance in the 4-2 win.

“I thought Corey Potter went in there, for a guy that hadn't played in quite a few months there, I thought he handled himself extremely well,” said Julien. “So those are all reassuring things for us moving forward, and you know, you working on getting your other guys healthy.”

With both Potter and Andrej Meszaros in the lineup against New Jersey, it meant that Julien had another tough decision to make, and this time, it was Matt Bartkowski who was the healthy scratch. Julien said the young defenseman took the scratch constructively.

“There's different reasons to scratch players, and it's not going to hurt him to miss a game like everybody else,” Julien said. “But at the same time, he's a young player and sometimes with young players, you need to be a little harder in the way that you're sending a good, constructive message, and what you don't want from young players is to assume that their job is there every night.”

“Certainly not disappointed in a player who's been really good for us and has been a real steady force, so let's not confuse the fact that he was a scratch, versus us being happy with his game up to date.”

B’s Ready for a Tough Matchup

The last time the Bruins faced the Avalanche in October, they were handed their first loss of the season. Granted, it was only three games into the schedule, but still, the B’s remember it well.

“They were a young, fast group,” said forward Daniel Paille. “They have a lot of offensive power, but they played very well defensively. We got shut out 1-0, so we definitely found it tough to score against them. So I think they're definitely a good, young team.”

Julien said his team has to be ready for a defensive challenge as well, especially given Colorado’s speed and skill.

“We've got some decent speed, but we also have a good structure here, where we're able to adjust to that,” he said. “Beginning of the year, it was a real early game, right? It was the beginning of the season, and our team was a little bit different than what it is now. But it's going to be a good challenge for us tomorrow.”

“You come to Colorado and the air's a little bit thinner, they're on their home ice and they're coming off a couple of losses here where they want to get back to their winning ways.”

The B’s may be riding a 10-game winning streak at the moment, but given that they are about to face one of the top five teams in the Western Conference, they aren’t taking anything for granted.

“To me, it's the kind of challenge that we need right now to keep us going in the right direction,” Julien said.

“Because they're a young team and they've done so well, they have a lot to prove going into the playoffs,” Paille added. “So we shouldn't expect anything different from this team where they're going to come out ready, especially with the last two games they've lost.”

“They've got a good coach right now and a good management that kind of turned this team around, and they've done a good job at getting a very good winning record.”

Update On McQuaid

Just about two weeks ago, Julien said that defenseman Adam McQuaid was going to be shut down for 2-3 weeks because of his quad strain.

On Thursday, he said that McQuaid is progressing nicely with his rehab after the setback.

“We're obviously going to have to make a decision at some point. The reason they shut him down was to try and get him back on course,” Julien said. “I know he's been working off ice longer and longer every day, so as far as I know, he's going in the right direction.”

Julien added that once the team returns to Boston at the conclusion of this road trip, he’ll know more about McQuaid’s status.

Thursday’s Optional Skate

Forwards (all wearing the Merlot jerseys): Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Jordan Caron

Defensemen: Corey Potter, Matt Bartkowski, Andrej Meszaros, Johnny Boychuk

Goalie: Chad Johnson

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