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Extra rest before opener helping Bruins get healthy

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Although it has been a long wait for the Boston Bruins to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings, the extra time off until Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, FS-D, NESN) has allowed the Bruins to get healthier.

Injuries and a flu bug had ravaged the Bruins' roster earlier in the week. Boston got healthier on Thursday with the return of rookie defenseman Kevan Miller for practice at the Garden. However, defenseman Matt Bartkowski (undisclosed), and forwards Chris Kelly (back) and Daniel Paille (head), remained off the ice.

Bruins coach Claude Julien revealed little about the missing players' status or availability for Game 1.

"I don't know that it's official yet on any of that stuff. Again, [Thursday] was another day where we had another player [back], so we'll see what [Friday] brings," Julien said. "It's hard for me to start giving you my lineup when I don't know what's going to happen day to day. So hopefully it continues to improve, which it has this week, and then we'll go from there."

Earlier in the week, the Bruins were without seven players for practice. A few players returned Wednesday and then Miller came back Thursday. Despite the disruptions to his roster, Julien said he and his staff were able to get the Bruins prepared for the Red Wings.

"It's created a bit of a challenge, there's no doubt. You know we could've started certain things a little earlier, but we had to wait for players to get back, and so on and so forth," Julien said. "But we got everything accomplished. We just had to kind of move things around a little bit. And as you saw, the first practice with three lines, five Ds, didn't give us a chance to work on too much.

"I thought [Wednesday] we did a lot. And again [Thursday], we just wanted to touch up certain things of our game. And right now it's about really getting ready for Game 1. You know as much as it was a challenge, in my mind we've managed to do what we wanted to. So hopefully it doesn't set us back for Game 1."

The Bruins-Red Wings series will be the last to get underway.

"Sometimes it's a negative just sitting around waiting too much," forward Milan Lucic said. "But on the other hand, sometimes it gives you the opportunity to get a little extra rest. Obviously we know how the schedule was, especially after the Olympic break and having some guys that went to the Olympics, it gives them a little extra time to get that little bit of extra break that they need in order to recover for this playoff series. So you know what, in the end I know we're all excited and that's the main thing."

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