BOSTON – Two of the most important players on the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers will not play Tuesday at TD Garden.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said center David Krejci is out with the same undisclosed injury that forced him to be a late scratch Saturday. Krejci is classified as day to day.
Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said forward Jonathan Huberdeau is still out with the flu and didn’t join the team in Boston. Huberdeau might join the Panthers on the next leg of their road trip in Philadelphia.
Aside from the absence of two of the better skilled players from both teams, Tuesday night marks an important event for a player known more for work ethic and toughness. Panthers forward Shawn Thornton, who left the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent last summer after seven seasons, will play his first game against his former team.
Thornton played in 480 regular-season games with the Bruins after he signed with them as an unrestricted free agent in July 2007. He played in more than 600 games across 10 seasons in the American Hockey League and had only 79 games (in four seasons) of NHL experience prior to joining Boston.
He earned a place as a fan favorite with his willingness to stand up for teammates and also for the energy he brought to several successful teams, including the 2011 Stanley Cup champions, both on and off the ice.
“I mean there’s no other way to explain it I guess. It is. It’s just different,” Thornton said after an optional morning skate. “It’s part of the sport, you move on, you go to different places. But coming back in here after seven years and the success we had, it is, it’s different being on this side. Excited and different, those are the two words I’ve been saying a lot too. There’s not much else to say about it.”
Thornton never wore a letter for the Bruins but was always considered a leader. The Bruins have missed Thornton’s voice as much as his play.
“It’s a little quieter, I’m sure you guys noticed,” Bruins forward Chris Kelly said. “Shawn was a big personality on the ice and off the ice. He did a lot for the team and the community. Not just one guy is going to be able to fill his shoes. It takes a group effort to try to fill that void of such a large personality and a guy that’s won two Stanley Cups and been around for a long time. There’s certain days that are a little more quiet than others, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with Shawn.”
Shortly after last season ended for the Bruins, general manager Peter Chiarelli told Thornton he would not be retained. It didn’t take long after the start of free agency for Thornton to find a new home. So there are no hard feelings as far as Thornton’s concerned:
“Not at all. It was class act from the day I started here to the day I finished,” Thornton said. “Everything the way they treated me, I had no complaints. Nothing but gratitude for them.”
Here are the projected lineups:
Tomas Fleischmann – Jussi Jokinen – Brad Boyes
Scottie Upshall – Nick Bjugstad – Jimmy Hayes
Rocco Grimaldi – Vincent Trochek – Colby Robak
Tomas Kopecky – Derek MacKenzie – Shawn Thornton
Willie Mitchell – Dmitry Kulikov
Brian Campbell – Aaron Ekblad
Dylan Olsen – Erik Gudbranson
Injured: Jonathan Huberdeau (flu), Aleksander Barkov (lower body), Dave Bolland (lower body), Brandon Pirri (upper body), Sean Bergenheim (lower body)
Milan Lucic – Chris Kelly – Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Matt Fraser – Carl Soderberg – Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Simon Gagne
Dennis Seidenberg – Dougie Hamilton
Joe Morrow – Adam McQuaid
David Warsofsky – Zach Trotman
Scratched: Matt Bartkowski
Injured: David Krejci (undisclosed), Zdeno Chara (knee), Kevan Miller (shoulder), Torey Krug (finger)
Status report: Barkov took part in the optional morning skate. Gallant said the forward will be a game-day decision. If Barkov can’t play, Robak, a defenseman, will play forward again. He skated on the wing against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. ... Miller started skating on his own Monday. There’s no timetable for his return but Julien said the defenseman is progressing.
Who’s hot: Luongo has a .951 save percentage in his past four games for the Panthers. Jokinen has a four-game point streak (0-5-5). ... Marchand has three goals in the past two games.