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With Krug Sidelined, Vaakanainen Gets Call from Providence

Cassidy rules out Krug (upper body) for Tuesday's game against Panthers at TD Garden

by Eric Russo @erusso22 / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - Bruins blue liner Torey Krug did not practice on Monday morning and has been ruled out for Tuesday's tilt against the Florida Panthers because of an upper-body injury. Coach Bruce Cassidy made the announcement following Boston's skate at Warrior Ice Arena, while adding that the team is still waiting for more information on the extent of the injury.

"We will re-evaluate as the week goes on," said Cassidy. "We're not taking him out of the equation this weekend. He was here [in the building], but again, until I get more [information] I've got nothing for you."

With Krug out for at least the Bruins' matchup against Florida, general manager Don Sweeney announced the recall of Urho Vaakanainen from Providence. The 20-year-old, who played his first two NHL games for Boston early last season, has played well in recent weeks after a slow start to his second professional campaign.

"I've been defending well, skating well, found the flow in my game. It's been a good two, three weeks, playing well. I feel good right now," said Vaakanainen, who has two assists in 15 games for Providence this season. "When you get a chance, you're gonna take it. I haven't been thinking about it too much. I don't want to stress myself if someone gets injured or if I get called up. I just want to be myself."

Video: Vaakanainen talks about call-up to Boston

Cassidy said that he will have a decision to make when it comes to playing Vaakanainen or Steven Kampfer on Tuesday night, but praised the work the 2017 first-round pick has done to improve his game over the past year.

"Defending better," said Cassidy. "I think early on he was getting stuck wide. I don't know if that's a European-sized rink issue or the way they played over there. But that was an issue early on. It showed on the goals against, he was getting beat to the middle.

"Moving the puck better, just more engaged in the game. Been told he's practicing hard too, becoming a better pro, all good things. His game is falling into place now as well."

Banged Up B's

Krug is not the only one banged up Bruin at the moment. Jake DeBrusk (lower body), Brett Ritchie (upper body), and David Backes (upper body) all remained off the ice for practice and will not play against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

On DeBrusk: "We didn't know at first how long and right now it's stretching out a little," said Cassidy.

On Backes: "Feeling better. Nothing new to report there," said Cassidy. "Until he gets on the ice and gets active, hard to speculate on his return."

Video: Cassidy talks about Vaakanainen, gives updates

Back in Black 

In positive injury news, Kevan Miller skated in full for the first time since last April, joining the team for practice on Monday morning donning a regular black sweater. The blue liner is still a ways away from playing, but his participation in practice marked a major checkpoint in his recovery from knee surgery.

"Now we're getting closer," said Cassidy. "I would rule him out this week. Next week, let's see how he gets through the practices. Wednesday's a scheduled [off day], Thursday's a scheduled practice. Friday, Saturday [are games]…he's not getting enough reps to say automatically next week.

"Some of it will determine how much he can get integrated with the group. Our practice schedule is actually hurting his timeline a little bit. But that's fine, we've got a lot of games and we're not rushing him."

Miller resumed skating in mid-October after a long and arduous rehabilitation that began after the Eastern Conference Final last May. The 31-year-old was working his way back from a broken kneecap suffered in the penultimate game of the regular season, when he reinjured the knee during off-ice training in Carolina as he pushed for a return for the Stanley Cup Final.

Some six months later, Miller knows the finish line is approaching, but there has been no set timetable for a return to game action.

"Trying to get back to 100 percent, day by day so far," said Miller, who played just 39 games last season due to various injuries. "It's kind of been ticking away and I'm feeling pretty good…couldn't put a number [on how I feel] right now.

"There's no timetable, it's up to the docs and how things are going. It's just because of the nature of the injury, there's a feeling out process and you've got to check the boxes as you go. Slowly checking boxes."

Fellow right-shot defenseman John Moore, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, practiced in a maroon non-contact jersey.

Video: Miller talks with media about recovery progress

Ratcheting Up 

The Bruins practiced for roughly 30 minutes on Monday morning, but it was a spirited, high-intensity skate that included several battle drills. Cassidy felt his group needed to pick up the pace after a slow start during Sunday night's shootout loss to Philadelphia on home ice.

"A little bit more getting going," said Cassidy. "Let's get after it today, let's get in that mindset that we're gonna get our work done in a hurry so that hopefully in the first period tomorrow we have that same mindset, let's get our work done in a hurry. I think we needed to be a little bit more competitive last night, so we brought it today."

Monday's Practice Lineup

FORWARDS

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Danton Heinen - David Krejci - Charlie Coyle

Anders Bjork - Par Lindholm - Zach Senyshyn

Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner

DEFENSEMEN

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Matt Grzelcyk - Brandon Carlo

Urho Vaakanainen - Connor Clifton

Steven Kampfer - Kevan Miller

John Moore

GOALIES

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

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