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Julien encouraged by progress of Seidenberg, Redden

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- After contending with a depleted defensive unit for the entirety of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien could be getting some help in the near future.

Veteran defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden, neither of whom has dressed for the series against New York, participated in an optional skate Wednesday. Julien sounded encouraged by their performance in practice.

"Every day they're better. That's progress," said Julien, who gave no word on whether either player would be available for Game 4 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; CNBC. RDS, TSN). "That decision will be made [Thursday]. I like the direction both those guys are going in now, so we'll keep our fingers crossed."

Seidenberg played two shifts in Boston's Game 7 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and has not played since. Prior to the injury, he had been among the Bruins' leaders in ice time. Redden opened the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a goal and an assist in Game 1 against Toronto, but has not played since Game 5 of that series after sustaining a lower-body injury. Andrew Ference, who hasn't played since Game 4 of the opening-round series, has not resumed skating and is out for Game 4.

With three veteran defensemen out of action, the Bruins have been forced to dress three rookies on their blue line. Those three players -- Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski -- have performed admirably in helping the Bruins gain a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Rangers. If Seidenberg and Redden are able to return anytime soon, it gives Julien some interesting decisions to make regarding his lineup.

"I've always said I like those tough decisions. That means you have some options. When you don't have decisions to make, it's because you have no options," Julien said. "That is not a good situation to be in. I'll take [tough decisions] any day."


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