Seidenberg had been skating on his own for close to two weeks in his recovery from back surgery that repaired a lumbar spine disc herniation.
Thursday marked exactly five weeks since the surgery on Sept. 24 that caused him to miss the Bruins’ entire training camp and start to the season. His estimated recovery time was eight weeks, initially pin-pointing a possible return around mid-November.
The defenseman did not take any contact or take part in the Bruins’ 3-on-3 battling drills, but the skate was still a significant step forward.
“For him, it was more to get him a little bit more encouraged by being with other players out there,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following practice. “He just did the line drills, the puck-moving part of it, so he still has a ways to go — definitely can’t take any contact, but just the fact that he’s able to be out there with us, is definitely encouraging for him.”
“It was great to see him and he looked great — he looked like he hadn’t missed any time at all,” said Chris Kelly, who went through a similar back surgery in 2014.
“That’s a testament to how hard he’s been working and I know it’s a difficult thing to have that surgery, and not only to have that surgery, but to have it at the start of the season, miss training camp.”
“I think he’s been working really hard and I’m sure he’s excited to get back.”
Miller, Kemppainen Absent
Kevan Miller and Joonas Kemppainen were absent from practice, but are traveling Thursday on the Bruins’ road trip to Florida for a back-to-back against the Florida Panthers on Friday and Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
Both players are expected to be on the ice for pregame skate on Friday morning at the BB&T Center.
“I’m going to say game-time decision, but I anticipate he’ll be in,” Julien said of Miller. “[Thursday] was probably more maintenance and allowing him to be better for [Friday].”
Julien added that it was the same circumstance for Kemppainen.
Miller went awkwardly into the boards with about five minutes left in the second period after getting hooked on Tuesday night against Arizona. The blueliner returned to the bench and took two shifts at the end of the second, but did not play any minutes in the third. He skated for about 10 minutes prior to Thursday’s practice on his own, but has not practiced the past two days.
Kemppainen only took four shifts in the third period of the game against Arizona and left the bench for a while, though he came back to finish out the game. It’s a good sign that both are expected to be ready for Friday night.
It was also a good sign that Pastrnak practiced on Thursday with the team.
The forward got hit with a shot towards the end of the third period of that same game against the Coyotes and stayed off the ice for Wednesday’s optional practice.
“I feel good. [On Wednesday], a couple of guys had the day off, so it’s good to get back on the ice as a team and get ready for a big trip,” Pastrnak said following Thursday’s skate.
“Obviously when you take a shot [to the foot], it gets a little hurt but I’m not the only guy who took a shot, so it’s all good, that’s why we play hockey, you know, we have to be used to it.”
Pastrnak is looking forward to continued chemistry playing with David Krejci and Loui Eriksson.
“I think we’ve had some good chances and had some chemistry with us,” said Pastrnak. “And Loui’s a great player, plays a pretty heavy game so I think it’s been good. I like playing with those two guys and I’m enjoying my time on the ice.”
“[David’s] on fire, so it’s easy to play with confidence and I always say I’m lucky that I can play with Krech and he’s a great player and he finds you with great passes when you least expect it… so it’s great that I can play with him.”
B’s Confident Heading into Road Back-to-Back
The Bruins are 4-0-1 in their past five games and coming off a 6-0 win over Arizona as they head on the road to face the Panthers and Lightning.
“There’s still work to be done,” said Kelly. “ I think every day we have to have the mindset that we’re going to try and come to the rink and get better and if we do that, I think we’ll continue to gain success and gain confidence.”
Boston remains undefeated on the road this season with a 3-0-0 record. As of Thursday afternoon, only Boston, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Washington had not yet lost on the road.
"That’s where we had to get ourselves going and establish [ourselves],” said Jimmy Hayes, who will be playing Florida for the first time since he was traded to the Bruins on July 1 (in exchange for Reilly Smith). “So I think our team’s pretty confident right now on the road and we’ve got to continue to play the right way and play that successful style that we’ve been playing and play North-South, in your face, fast-paced hockey.”
“[Our confidence] is good — a the same time, we also realize that teams that we’re playing this weekend are teams we have to catch up to, they’re just ahead of us in the standings,” said Julien. “So it’s good to be confident, but I think we also have to be determined and ready to put in the work that it’s going to take to beat those guys.”
Florida is 5-3-1 this season and has won two straight. The Lightning entered Thursday with a 5-3-2 record, though they’re currently going through a scoring drought.
“I think we just need to focus on the first game,” said Kelly. “If we look ahead to the second game, we won’t do ourselves any favors on Friday night, so I think just being ready to skate, to work, make the right plays, manage the puck — just have the mindset that we’re going to go in there and work hard.”
Hayes Ready for Florida “Homecoming”
As the Bruins hit the road, Hayes is looking forward to facing his former team.
“I’ve got a lot of good buddies on that team and a lot of close friends,” said Hayes. “But it’s a game, it’s a big game for us especially [because] they’re ahead of us [in the standings], we’re chasing them. We’ve got to gain some ground on them and establish ourselves in the playoff picture.”
The Panthers gave him his NHL opportunity and he suited up in 105 games for them during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
“It was a very positive experience,” he said. “They gave me a chance to become a full-time NHL player and get going with my career and thanks to them, they allowed me. And there’s the business aspect of anything, especially in the NHL, I experienced it this summer being traded and it is what it is, and now I’m back here and in a spot where I want to be and I’m happy about it.”
Trotman Staying Positive
Zach Trotman hasn’t suited up on Boston’s back end since the season opener against Winnipeg and has been a healthy scratch for the past seven games.
With Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Colin Miller occupying the Bruins’ right side on defense, all Trotman can do is work hard, stay positive and wait on the sidelines for his next opportunity.
“This is the longest I’ve been out, so I’ve been trying to take every day, every practice as a game, looking towards it as a challenge rather than in a negative way,” said Trotman. “The guys are playing well right now, so I’m trying to do my job in practice and play hard against everyone and make guys better in practice so they’re prepared when it comes to games.”
Practice Lineup 10/29
Brad Marchand—Patrice Bergeron—Brett Connolly
Loui Eriksson—David Krejci—David Pastrnak
Matt Beleskey—Ryan Spooner—Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo—Chris Kelly—Tyler Randell
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Zach Trotman, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Joe Morrow, Colin Miller, Dennis Seidenberg
Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Jonas Gustavsson