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Practice Notebook: Krejci Takes Contact, Spooner Steps Up, Fourth Line Buzzing

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON David Krejci is getting closer to his return to the Bruins’ lineup.

He took contact during Wednesday’s practice at TD Garden and alternated at center with Ryan Spooner on a line with Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson.

The Bruins next face the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at home.

“Still day-to-day with David. So we’ll see,” Head Coach Claude Julien said following Wednesday’s practice. “Today was his first day with contact. We did a little bit extra there at the end, and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, and just continue to evaluate that way.”

Krejci got in practice time on the power play, back at his normal spot on the point alongside Torey Krug, with Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner and Eriksson up front.

He stayed on for extra work after practice and took part in battling drills in the corner.

“It was another step forward today,” said Krejci. “A little bit of more battling, so I had a good day, so we’ll see tomorrow.”

Krejci has missed the past 10 games in his recovery from the upper-body injury that placed him on Injured Reserve. It’s has been a long three weeks for the forward.

“As a player, it’s never fun to be watching games, so you want to be on the ice, even if you’re 50 percent,” he said. “But it’s just — that’s not smart — so if I’m at 90 percent, then that’s not good enough. I’ve got to be 100 percent.”

He has his sights set on playing Thursday night against Vancouver.

“It’s a better possibility than yesterday [in Montreal],” said Krejci. “But [today] was the first day doing some battle drills, so sometimes, things like that you wake up the next day. Sometimes it gets sore, sometimes it doesn’t, so the next 24 hours is going to be big, so hopefully I can take care of my body.”

Whenever Krejci returns, Spooner will be bumped to a different line. He could center the third line or play on the wing.

“I’m just going to go out and just play and if they want to play me on the wing, if they want to play me at center, it doesn’t matter to me,” said Spooner. “I just want to help out.”

“At the end of the day, I just have to go out there and play the same game that I have been — use my speed and my skill and just try to help the team win.”

Whererver he ends up?

“Yeah, exactly,” he said.

No matter which spot Spooner is placed in, he will be a better player. Getting in top-six minutes, playing against opponents’ top lines and being challenged on the faceoff dot has helped him improve.

“There’s no doubt, I think we’re stronger down the middle,” said Julien. “Just with the experience that Ryan has had at center, even when David comes back — he’s such a good centerman, how can you not be stronger, right?”

“Ryan has taken some huge strides here in this time where David Krejci has been out. So you hope that makes our team better, and that’s what we talked about — take advantage of the opportunity and make yourself a better player, and that’s what he’s done. Exactly what he’s done. So we’ll see where we’re at when that moment arrives and have to deal with kind of roster, where everybody fits, and where Ryan should go.”

“It’s been a bit of a change, just going against guys that are more skilled — there’s been some games where I’ve had some troubles I guess you could say,” said Spooner. “That’s been a bit of a change for me. The faceoffs have been up and down for me as well, but as a whole I think I’ve played well and I was just excited to go up there and just help out.”

Ferraro Sidelined

Landon Ferraro remains day-to-day and did not take part in Wednesday’s practice at TD Garden.

He skated Tuesday morning in Montreal and then did not take warmups. The Bruins announced pregame that Ferraro has a lower-body injury.

“It was the day before we left — so he wasn’t on the ice and he’s day-to-day,” said Julien. “So we’ll see. We’ll see if he’s good enough to go on the ice [Thursday]. We’ll see [Thursday], and if not, continue to be a day-to-day situation.”

Fourth Line Buzzing

After a stretch of games creating chance after chance, the Bruins’ fourth line finally broke through against the Canadiens. Max Talbot scored the game’s first goal, David Pastrnak — in his return from injury — added a goal and an assist in his fourth line role for the night and Zac Rinaldo garnered an assist off a strong forecheck.

“I’d say probably in the last month, that fourth line has really kind of gotten itself going,” said Julien. “I think, first of all, Max is a much better player now than he was earlier in the season; so is Rino. I think he’s understanding a little bit more the positioning now and is feeling more comfortable.”

“[Rinaldo’s] found that middle ground that makes him go to the right position without overthinking, and it’s just becoming natural for him. So we know he’s a good skater, we know he’s a grinder, and plays like last night, we’re getting used to seeing him do those things. That’s why that line has been so effective for us — because they’ve all seemed to have that attitude.”

Push Before All-Star Break

With just four games before the NHL breaks for the All-Star festivities in Nashville from Jan. 28 — 31, the Bruins are focused on picking up as many points as possible.

Three straight wins has them on track for a strong push.

“Well, I think — I sound like a broken record, here, but just looking at the standings, you just have no margin of error, as far as slipping,” said Julien. “You could be out of a playoff spot in no time.”

With Tuesday’s 4-1 win in Montreal, the Bruins picked up an important two points in the standings. At 53 points, they sit just one point behind both Tampa Bay and Detroit. Florida leads the Atlantic Division with 57 points.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing here, and those three wins have been big for us,” said Julien. “But we have four more games before the All Star Break, and it would be nice to see us finish strong here in that last stretch.”

Bergeron Passes Neely on All-Time List

With Bergeron’s goal on Tuesday in Montreal, he took over sole possession of ninth place on the Bruins’ all-time scoring list with 591 points, passing Cam Neely.

“You never stop being appreciative of him,” said Julien. “You’re getting the same thing out of him every night, and more. He’s not only the best two-way player in the league, he’s also our leading scorer. He’s taking all the biggest draws there is in a game for us, and you can go on and on and on, but that’s just one of those guys that is going to be recognized for a long time after he’s done playing as well.”

Practice Lineup 1/20

Gold Jerseys: Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronBrett Connolly

White: Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciRyan SpoonerLoui Eriksson

Gray: Frank VatranoJoonas KemppainenJimmy Hayes

Merlot: Zac RinaldoMax TalbotDavid PastrnakTyler Randell

Defense: Zdeno Chara, Zach Trotman, Joe Morow, Dennis Seidenberg, Colin Miller, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson

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