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Ryder Returns to Practice

by Angela Latona / Boston Bruins
Ryder and Kobasew Return

Boston Bruins Michael Ryder.Click to see him talk to reporters from the Bruins locker room. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
The Boston Bruins suited up for practice Monday at Wilmington's Ristuccia Memorial Arena in an effort to bounce back from a 3-2 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Valentine’s Day. The B’s lineup is still smarting from injuries to forwards Michael Ryder (facial fracture), Chuck Kobasew (undisclosed) and Petteri Nokelainen (eye), however, help may be on the way.

On Monday, Julien said that Kobasew is a “strong possibility” for Tuesday night’s game against Carolina.

“I spoke to [Kobasew] before practice and he said he felt a lot better,” Julien said. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t be in.”

Which is a good thing for the team’s fight against the “hungry” ’Canes who are still fighting for a playoff slot. To date, Boston has not had those worries.

“Not saying that we’re comfortable at all, but what I’m saying is that there’s some injures to players that, if you’re in a position where you’re fighting for a spot you may have to put those guys in a little earlier,” Julien explained. “Right now, we’ve got the luxury of giving our guys an opportunity to come back at 100 percent if we know that not being 100 percent might set them back again.

“We’re taking a more cautious approach to our injuries, but I don’t think our game approach has changed.”

Ryder, who also returned to Ristuccia's ice on Monday, wore a college-style face cage to protect his injured face during the practice session.

“They [the doctors] say three weeks so that’s what we’re going with right now,” he said. “See how I feel.”

Ryder, who has three fractured bones in his nasal area, said the doctor’s described the injury as a “crushed eggshell” and inserted three plates.

“That was, I guess, a fortunate situation after all because it could’ve been worse,” Julien said. “But still, there's a lot of damage there and certainly those are not things you like to see.”

Finally, Nokelainen did not skate or fly with the team to Carolina, but Julien indicated that he might join the club later in the week.

New Lines for Tuesday
Boston Bruins Phil Kessel awaits a face-off during their hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Boston Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Injuries have brought new guys up from Providence and given them an opportunity to change up the way the Bruins play their game, but on Monday coach Julien implemented some changes of his own, just to shake things up.

“I think we haven’t been scoring as much as we’d like to lately,” he said. “Move guys around a little bit and see if that will spark things.”

Forwards Blake Wheeler and Phil Kessel, for instance, have been moved to put a change into the mix without wholly altering the skill set.

“They both bring the same kinds of things to lines,” Julien said. “In Phil’s case it’s a situation where he hasn’t scored in a long time and maybe, again, moving him around it will give him that spark.

“There’s no bad intentions behind it, all with the initiative of hoping to get us to score some more goals,” he said.

A Little Bit of Fun...
Boston Bruins Milan Lucic (17) bumps chests goalie Manny Fernandez after the Bruins defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in a hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
After a day off on Sunday, on Monday morning the club had one of their more energetic on-ice sessions in weeks.

“Sometimes you just have to loosen up a little bit,” Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson said after the practice. “But the fun part can’t take away from the hard-working part.

“But if you can do both, it’s perfect.”

Axelsson, along with the rest of the Black & Gold bench commented on Monday's feeling of excitement and “jump” in the lineup.

“We had a lot of jump in our step today, and I think having that fun will be important to take in tomorrow [against the Carolina Hurricanes],” forward Milan Lucic said. “We want to get back to that feeling of having fun and going out there and just enjoying it all.

“I think that’s what needs to be done right now,” explained the left wing. “We’ve just got to get that attitude back, that confidence back.”

And after four losses in a row, three of which were decided by just one goal, head coach Claude Julien is ready to see the return of that spark that carried his club to first in the East.

“I just find that slowly we’re getting our energy back and we’ve had an opportunity to get some rest here and there. I think it’s just a mindset too,” he said after the upbeat practice. “Hopefully we can have that same kind of energy going into tomorrow's game.”

John Bishop contributed to this report.
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