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Pregame vs Habs: Boychuk Skating, Rivalry Heats Up

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

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BOSTON, MA - Yet again, the same storylines are laced through tonight's Bruins-Canadiens rivalry match-up, as the two teams, both with 45 points, will battle for first place in the Northeast Division tonight at TD Garden (7:30 ET).

Wednesday morning, the Bruins were back together for pregame skate following Tuesday’s off day, in preparation for their third meeting on the season against the Habs.

The B's practice saw lines switched up again, but the biggest change was defenseman Johnny Boychuk back skating with the team for the first time since taking a puck off the skate last Friday (March 22) during practice in Ottawa. He had been termed day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

No. 55 started out the pregame skate paired with Zdeno Chara during rushes (a good sign, to say the least), and afterwards, Coach Julien gave an update.

“Uncertain,” said Coach on Boychuk’s status. “He’s going to be reevaluated today and, so far, he hasn’t been cleared, until he’s been reevaluated here.”

Coach was also asked if he had an update on Chris Kelly (out indefinitely with broken left tibia), and said he has yet to start skating so “until he’s on his skates it’s hard to say, or give you a time frame.” 

Besides the welcome surprise of seeing Boychuk back on the ice, the B’s left wings were again swapped this morning, as Milan Lucic was back with David Krejci and Nathan Horton (how they ended the final seven minutes of Monday’s win), and Brad Marchand was skating alongside Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron.

Here were the rushes:





In Monday's win over the Leafs, Milan Lucic ended a 15-game scoring drought with a powerful goal that put the B's on the board and gave them a lift of emotion.

Later in the game, after he showed Coach Julien that his jets were turned on, Lucic was placed back with his usual linemates David Krejci and Nathan Horton, after having played most of the game with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron.

"I think we have to work off each other," Lucic said following Wednesday's morning skate, on being back on his original line. "I think we bring a lot to the table as a line and as individuals. When we're playing at our best, we're being a big part of the team, so we need to find our best and bring it more often and more consistently."

"I's just trying to get through it and trying to get yourself back to the way you want to play," added Lucic, as he looks to build off of last game.

For Lucic, as well as the other B's battling to find their games, including Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley, it's about getting back to the basics, about what they do well out on the ice and focusing on the little details. Coach's line switches has have helped them re-examine that.

"Sometimes just switch things up and it lights a fire and gets a spark going," said Lucic on the changes that first took place at Sunday's practice. "It's almost like you try your best not to - and I think we do a pretty good job of that here - not taking anything for granted, but sometimes it just kind of happens."

"You almost have to take a step back in order to move forward. I think for myself playing a hard, simple game is what's made me successful in my career. That was my thought process once the lineup change was made."

"Obviously, playing with Pevs and Jordy, they're still great players, but like I said, for myself it doesn't matter who I play with. You try to play a certain way and keep playing the same way. Is think playing that good, hard, simple game and moving your feet and straight-line hockey, that's when I've been most successful."

Goaltender Match-Up

Tuukka Rask was first off at morning skate, so I’ll expect him to be between the pipes tonight coming off the 3-2 shootout win over Toronto on Monday night. Anton Khudobin also gave Rask some rest over the weekend, playing Thursday and Saturday, so hopefully No. 40 can carry that into tonight.

If Rask gets the nod, he will be opposite Carey Price in goal, who will start back-to-back games for the second time this season. The Canadiens lost 1-0 to the Penguins last night in Pittsburgh before traveling to Boston. Price is 15-8-3 against the Bruins, with a 2.52 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Dougie's Approach Coincides with Team's

Following morning skate, Coach Julien was asked about the development of Dougie Hamilton, and if has needed to find the balance of looking ahead to the next game within this compact season, while still taking the time to learn from any mistakes.

"We’ve done that all year. We’ve tried to keep him in the moment here," said Coach. "We’re doing that with our whole team. We’re trying not to look too far ahead because too many games in a short span, it’s a good thing in a way because you don’t dwell on losses, and you don’t sit on your wins for too long."

"You’ve got a challenge coming up the following night or the night after, so it’s been goo that way. But, at the same time, I think it’s important that we just look at it that way."

"For Doug, it’s the same way. He has a great game, bank it, and try to do the same thing. If he has a tough game, we work on the correction and move on."

Caron Translating Game from Providence

Winger Jordan Caron hasn't had the luckiest year - injuries originally caused him to miss Boston's training camp in January, but since being recalled to the big club, he's been working hard to keep developing.

"Well, he’s had a tough year. You said it: different injuries," Coach Julien said, when asked if Caron was still the same player this season, despite the setbacks.

"So, he’s been through a lot this year. Every time he got himself going, he had a setback. We take that into consideration and at the beginning here he was producing."

"But in Providence, he did a lot of the things we asked him to do. He was strong along the walls, he was taking pucks to the net more, and he was also a better net-front presence. He was working on the things we asked him to do."

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