Sweeney said that initial X-rays on Pastrnak’s foot were normal, but as Pastrnak’s symptoms persisted, the team moved chose to move forward with a CT scan.
“It did reveal a small non-displaced crack in an awkward location,” Sweeney told reporters following Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “So we have to get him some time. The course of action doesn’t change for him except he just needs a little bit more rest.”
Pastrnak sustained the fracture 15 days ago in a game against Arizona. He played in two games following the injury and has missed the last four. Pastrnak is currently using a walking boot, and surgery is not something the team is considering at this time, Sweeney said.
When Pastrnak was first ruled out for game action, the Bruins recalled Alex Khokhlachev, replacing him with forward Frank Vatrano after two games. In two games with the big club, Vatrano has impressed across the board. He has been equally strong in both ends, he has been disciplined without the puck, and he has showcased his speed and, of course, his lethal shot, scoring his first NHL goal at the Bell Centre on Nov. 7.
There’s no silver lining to losing a player like Pastrnak, Julien said, but at least it has given Vatrano a chance to shine.
“There’s no such thing as good news when a player is injured,” Julien said. “But at the same time, for me, my preoccupation has to be about the players that are healthy and what I have to do to win hockey games. Those other guys — nothing I can do about that. But Frank’s stepped in and definitely, like I said, he’s just been an overall good player in all the different areas that we look at as coaches.”
Neither Sweeney nor Julien is ready to discuss what will happen to Vatrano once Pastrnak is ready to return to game action. For one, there is currently no timetable for Pastrnak’s return. For another, Vatrano has only had two games to show what he can do.
“Everything is based on performance, and he got off to a good start, as did Koko,” Sweeney said. “The need was there for somebody to come in and see how he does. If he [proves] himself to the point where he belongs and is able to stay, then that’s what he’ll do.
“If not, we’ll look internally or externally — whatever you have to do. But it’s performance-based, for sure.”
Seidenberg Getting Closer
Nov. 19 — one week from Thursday — will mark two months since defenseman Dennis Seidenberg underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.
Seidenberg has been skating with his teammates for a couple of weeks. He has been taking contact for about one week now.
Slowly but surely, his return date is approaching, but Seidenberg will not commit to an exact date.
“It’s tough to say how far [away] I am,” he said on Wednesday. “A nerve takes so long to recover, and it gets a little better, you kind of feel like you can push, and the good thing is, it keeps improving. That’s a good thing, and we’ll go from there.”
Seidenberg has been in close communication with the team trainers ever since he resumed skating last month. He has kept close tabs not only on how his back feels, but on how his legs feel. Much of his recovery has revolved around regaining strength and power in his legs, and that continues to be a day-to-day progression.
“There hasn’t been any pain; it’s all about power in my lower leg and pushing off, and that’s something I have to monitor and judge how I feel,” Seidenberg said. “It’s getting close. It’s kind of tough to say, but I’m feeling better on the ice, I’m feeling strong in the battles, and again, it’s about me feeling comfortable skating and just getting better, here.”
Though Seidenberg did participate in some captains’ practices in September, he missed the entirety of training camp and preseason. As such, Julien expects that whenever Seidenberg does return to the lineup, he will need some time to work himself back into game shape.
“He’s looking fine,” Julien said. “When a guy hasn’t had a training camp and hasn’t had a game this year, you can’t expect him to come back and be firing on all cylinders. When he does come back, we realize that we may have to monitor his ice time and who he plays against and so on, so forth. So those are things that we’re prepared for the minute he’s good to go.”
Julien did not rule out a conditioning stint in Providence, but he did say that often, players have to agree to those types of assignments, and Sweeney would ultimately be the person to decide whether or not that course of action is appropriate.
In Seidenberg’s absence, there have been plenty of ongoing adjustments on the back end. Early in the season, Julien used Matt Irwin. He has used Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman. He has mostly used Colin Miller on the top pairing and has used Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug on the second.
There have doubtlessly been growing pains on this defensive corps this season, but in the end, whenever Seidenberg is ready to return, there will be a difficult decision to make in terms of which defenseman will sit.
“It’s always a good thing to have those kind of situations; I’ve said that in the past,” Julien said. “Tough decisions are usually good decisions.”
Season-Long Homestand Approaching
The next five games on the docket bode to be challenging ones for the Bruins — not only because of the caliber of opponents.
All five of those games will be played at TD Garden, which has been an uncharacteristically difficult place for the Bruins to play this season.
Boston has played six home games this season and has gone 1-4-1. Often, they have started out strong but have been unable to sustain that intensity — and a commitment to their system — for a full 60 minutes.
On the road, the Bruins have gone 6-2. On the road, they play a simpler game, a more focused game. That is what they need to bring to their home ice.
“I think that road style of grinding it out, making sure you get the two points, [doing] the small things in a back to back — a situation like that, when you do the small things to keep it simple — that seems to be when our team’s at our best,” said forward Matt Beleskey. “We’ve talked about that, and that’s something we’ve got to carry on here at home.”
In the past, the Bruins have taken immense pride in making TD Garden a difficult place for opponents to win. The next two weeks will provide ample opportunity to get back to that, beginning on Thursday night against Colorado.
“I think it’s pretty obvious that we have to improve our home record,” Julien said. “We’ve got to be happy with our road record, but our home record is the one that we have to improve, and this is I think a great opportunity for us to improve it with these next five games. So hopefully we get off to a good start and we build on that.”
The Bruins may have a plethora of new faces in this year’s lineup compared with last year’s, but they have proven they understand the system. They have proven they can execute it. Their problem has been sticking to that system for the full 60 minutes it takes to win a game.
“I think we’ve stuck to the system here [at home]; we just haven’t stuck to it long enough,” Julien said. “I said that [Tuesday] when I used the word consistency. We’ve stuck to it and we’ve had great starts, but we haven’t been able to sustain it for most of the duration of the game. That’s where I think we’ve failed at times.
“When we’ve gotten away from it, we haven’t gotten away from it just a bit; we’ve kind of broken down to the point where it’s caused a lot of damage.”
Most recently, the Bruins showed that in last Tuesday’s home loss to the Stars. They weren’t perfect, but through about 30 minutes, the Bruins were good enough to win a hockey game. Then, in the latter half of the game, a lack of discipline and a lackluster effort seemed to get the best of them in an eventual 5-3 loss.
“I think it’s more about focus than it is about trying to put on a show,” Julien said. “I think we just need to be a little bit better that way, and because it’s happened at home, hopefully it’s not a reoccurring thing, and hopefully, we can fix that.”
On Sunday, the Bruins appeared to be the opposite of the team that dropped that 5-3 loss to Dallas. They were strong throughout the vast majority of the game’s 60 minutes. Again, they weren’t perfect, but they were when they needed to be — at even strength, on the man advantage and on the penalty kill.
Thursday will be their first opportunity to prove they can do that at home, too.
“It’s a a good opportunity for us to have five games at home,” Beleskey said. “That’s something we’ve got to turn around. We want to focus on making it a hard place to play, make teams not want to come in our building.
“We’re a determined group to do that.”
Krug Takes Another Maintenance Day; Surgery for Koko
For the second consecutive day, defenseman Torey Krug was missing from the practice ice.
On Tuesday, Julien said Krug was given a maintenance day; on Wednesday, it was the same deal.
“He’s just dealing with something small,” Sweeney confirmed. “So he just took another day today.”
Julien added that it is more likely than not that Krug will be in the lineup for the B’s against the Avalanche on Thursday.
“He’s maintenance, and that’s what he’s been for the last couple days,” Julien said. “So I would be leaning more toward yes than no.”
Sweeney also confirmed that Khokhlachev suffered a small crack in his little finger in Providence’s game at Utica on Saturday night. Khokhlachev underwent surgery to stabilize the finger and will require a 4-6 week recovery period.
Wednesday’s Practice Lineup
Gold Jerseys: Matt Beleskey, Patrice Bergeron, Brett Connolly
White Jerseys: Frank Vatrano, David Krejci, Loui Eriksson
Gray Jerseys: Brad Marchand, Ryan Spooner, Jimmy Hayes
Red Jerseys: Zac Rinaldo, Joonas Kemppainen, Tyler Randell
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid, Zach Trotman, Kevan Miller, Dennis Seidenberg
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson