BOSTON, MA - Before the Bruins took the ice for pregame skate on Monday morning to prep for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the sounds of T-Blade skates gliding stride by stride filled TD Garden.
I didn't even have to walk all the way up to the glass in the Zamboni tunnel to see that it was Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, on the ice skating for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury last Tuesday, November 19, against the New York Rangers.
Seidenberg skated with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides, and remained on the ice for his first skate back with the group.
"Yes it was his first time out there today," affirmed Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "He skated earlier this morning and then he skated with us, and he’d been on for 45 minutes so we just got him off."
Julien had originally predicted a more or less seven-day recovery for Seidenberg, so the blueliner appears to be on track to return to game action soon.
Meanwhile, Adam McQuaid continues to skate with the team and work his way back from a lower-body injury sustained on November 9, that has kept him out of the lineup for the past seven games.
"Yeah, he’s getting closer," said Julien. "He’s been skating and again, I haven’t talked to our trainers yet as far as how he felt this morning but I think there’s always a possibility I have to make a decision tonight on if he is playing or not."
After McQuaid finished up his morning skate paces, a reporter asked if he needed another game off.
"We’ll see," said the soft-spoken defenseman. "I am getting close. I feel like every day it’s been improving and I’m definitely getting close right now so I’m excited about that."
For McQuaid, it's been a day-to-day process, feeling out the injury that's entirely new to him.
"It’s feeling better now so I’m hoping that when I get back, it’s not really going to be something that bothers me too much."
In his absence, Matt Bartkowski has taken on a steadier role, Dougie Hamilton has formed a pairing with Zdeno Chara, and Kevan Miller has stepped into the lineup, on his first NHL regular season recall from Providence.
The depth on the blueline has continued the B's upward trend. Still, it's never easy for a player to be sidelined and not helping the cause.
"I think it’s a situation where no matter what, you’re going to come back as soon as you can," said McQuaid. "This is something where I don’t want to come back too soon and then be set back. I’ve gotten to this point, I didn’t want to push myself to the point where I’m setting myself back."
"So it’s an area I guess where when guys are coming in and finding ways to win and doing a great job that it’s a little bit easier to watch, but you want to get back as soon as you can, regardless of the situation."
Without McQuaid in the lineup, Torey Krug has been without his usual defense partner for more than two weeks. The duo complement each other well. Since the injury, Krug has been paired with Seidenberg, Miller and most recently, Johnny Boychuk.
Julien and his staff have always stressed the importance of all their defensemen being able to play both sides of the ice, and with any 'D' partner.
We saw the easy adjustment also happen during the 2013 postseaon, when the B's back end depth had to come up big.
Krug was part of that.
"During the course of the year, guys are going to get hurt, especially the way that we play – a rough and tumble team. So it’s important to have confidence in the guys coming up," said Krug.
"The coaching staff shows a lot of confidence in the young guys to [come in and play] and we just roll with it."