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Chiarelli encouraged by Bruins' improving health

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON – The return from injury of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Saturday left the Boston Bruins with Andrew Ference and Wade Redden among their injured players heading into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

General manager Peter Chiarelli described his team's overall health as "pretty good" during a press conference Sunday at TD Garden. And by the time the Bruins start the series, they might be even healthier.

"We’ve got Andrew out, he's making progress. Wade is close, if not ready," Chiarelli said. "Just the bumps and bruises are minor. We got Dennis back. We're in pretty good shape right now, knock on wood."

The Bruins' 2011 run to the Stanley Cup championship featured a handful of man games lost to injury. Boston has had more bumps and bruises to deal with in 2013, but Chiarelli said he feels fortunate after a condensed 48-game regular season and 12 postseason games.

"I'm happy that we don't have as much [injuries] as I thought we'd have. It's been a different year from that perspective," the GM said. "We’ve talked a lot about it. Managing, coaching in a condensed schedule has been difficult and different. I'm glad we're at this juncture now with the bodies that we have because I really thought, especially with those postponed games, [that] we were going to get hit at some point."

Should the Bruins suddenly sustain more injuries, Chiarelli said he's planning on putting together a taxi squad of players from the farm team with Providence of the American Hockey League. Those players would skate separate from the NHL team and be on call. Considering how well AHL call-ups Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski have played in the absence of Seidenberg, Redden and Ference, it's a strategy that has worked well so far. The Bruins now have three extra healthy forwards and two extra healthy defensemen.

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