EDMONTON, AB - As the team bus pulled into Rexall Place on Wednesday afternoon, and the Bruins started unloading their hockey bags from the equipment truck, they were greeted by a familiar face.
Andrew Ference, former longtime Bruin and current Oilers captain, clad in his blue and orange workout gear, gave a succession of hugs to his close friends. The reunion brought out smiles from the group and huddles of conversations catching up.
"It was great. Obviously looking forward to the guys coming in," Ference said on Thursday morning. "Got to see them quickly at the rink and caught up for a bit yesterday and reminisce a little bit, get caught up in what’s going on with everybody’s lives."
"Just a good group of buddies coming in for a visit, and then today, we have to go to work."
There is, of course, a game to be played on Thursday night in Edmonton, with Ference on the opposing side.
But the occasion also offers an opportunity to reflect on why the reunion between him and his teammates was such an easy, heartfelt one.
Through Ference's seven seasons in Black & Gold, he was there for the rebuild, from the beginning with General Manager Peter Chiarelli in 2007, to the Cup and two Final appearances. The lower cap prevented a re-signing in the 2013 offseason for the unrestricted free agent, but it was a respectful, classy departure for the defenseman.
EDMONTON, AB - As the Bruins continue their 5200-plus mile trip through Canada, Wednesday brought them to Rexall Place, following an emotional night in Calgary with Jarome Iginla's return to the Saddledome.
With the Flames' fans giving Iggy the homecoming he deserved, Boston's road trip now gives both Iginla and defenseman Johnny Boychuk a homecoming to their hometown of Edmonton.
Boychuk returned to the lineup in Calgary. Adam McQuaid and Dougie Hamilton are now the Bruins' blueliners still sidelined. Hamilton is back in Boston, out an estimated 2-4 weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered in Toronto.
McQuaid traveled with the team, though he was placed on injured reserve by General Manager Peter Chiarelli on Sunday. Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had projected him to start skating this week.
The defenseman hit the ice to skate on his own prior to Wednesday's practice at Rexall Place.
It was his first time skating since re-aggravating his lower-body injury. It's been a somewhat nagging injury for McQuaid, who has missed time off and on since November 9.
CALGARY, AB - From the moment Jarome Iginla arrived in Calgary, the spotlight was on.
From the throngs of cameras and media that awaited his arrival by team bus, to the fans shouting "Iggy! Iggy!" and cheering every time he touched the puck on Tuesday night at his former stomping grounds, the Scotiabank Saddledome.
There was a game to be played, too, though all of the attention was around "Iggy," the former longtime beloved Flames captain.
And when the final horn sounded, the Bruins had rallied to cap off his return with a 2-1 comeback win over the "C of Red."
But it didn't look that way early. It took until 13:49 of the third period for the Bruins get on the board, and when they did, it was two tallies 1:38 apart from David Krejci and Reilly Smith that did the job.
"We just got back to playing Bruins hockey," said Smith, of them turning the corner in the third. "The first two periods, we got away from it. I think we were making too many hope plays, we weren’t trying hard enough to turn the puck over and stick to our game plan. We got back to it in the third and I think that changed our game around."
CALGARY, AB - The Bruins can't catch a break. But they'll keep powering forward.
Following the team's pregame skate in Calgary at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday morning, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said that Daniel Paille (who was not on the ice for the skate) is now out with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Forward Nick Johnson was recalled on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins and is joining the team today in Calgary (his hometown) for tonight's game.
In regards to the blueline, Julien said today in Calgary that Dougie Hamilton will be out 2-4 weeks with his lower-body injury (suffered vs Toronto), after being evaluated by team doctors back in Boston on Monday.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is expected to make his return to the lineup tonight in Calgary, after missing two games while recovering from a back sprain sustained in Montreal last week.
CALGARY, AB - When the Bruins touched down in Calgary on Monday afternoon, Johnny Boychuk joined the team for practice, skating for the first time since suffering a back sprain in Montreal on December 5.
The defenseman's back had locked up after going awkwardly into the boards in the game against the Habs. As a precaution, he ended up being wheeled off the ice on a stretcher at the Bell Centre.
There were no fractures found in his back, and the diagnosis was approximately 3-7 days. But it was concerning watching the events that took place on the ice, with everyone anticipating the worst.
"I think we dodged a pretty good bullet there, personally," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the diagnosis. "Those kind of injuries could have serious consequences. We feared the worst and I think we got as good of news as we could get."
After Boychuk skated with the team for their half hour practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday, he said he still felt "pretty stiff," but he didn't seem to face any major issues during the skate.
TORONTO, ON - Heading into Sunday night's game in Toronto, the Bruins were missing key players.
As a result, they pulled off a team effort in stepping up to fill the void, topping the Maple Leafs 5-2 at Air Canada Centre.
Third line center Chris Kelly was placed on long-term injured reserve Sunday afternoon, with a fractured right fibula suffered in Saturday night's 3-2 win over Pittsburgh.
"You have to fill it from within. I think we have enough players that can step up," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said prior to the matchup. "Those are parts of the game that you face every year, every team."
TORONTO, ON - For the fifth game this season, and the second time in three games, the Bruins were down a defenseman.
Dougie Hamilton went down the tunnel towards the end of the first period against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, after a Bruins' power play, and did not return. The defenseman has a lower-body injury.
"He's going to fly back home tomorrow and he'll be evaluated by our doctors; lower-body injury," Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following the Bruins' 5-2 win over the Leafs on Saturday night.
"We'll see what the outcome is there but, right now, it doesn't seem like he's going to be playing with us probably this coming week. It doesn't look good as far as - the diagnosis on him was he's probably done for at least a week."
Playing with five defensemen has unfortunately become a somewhat common occurrence for the Bruins' injured back end this season.
Eriksson sustained a concussion in Saturday night's game against Pittsburgh at TD Garden, and did not travel with the team to Toronto, as the Bruins begin a four-game road trip through Canada.
Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Sunday afternoon that Kelly sustained a fractured right fibula in the second period of Bruins/Penguins game and has been placed on long-term injured reserve. The centerman is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Kelly played the entire game on Saturday night, with his final shift ending with 2:10 left in the third period of the Bruins' eventual 3-2 comeback win. His injury occurred on a slash.
The alternate captain also spent a lengthy time out of the lineup in the shortened 2012-13 campaign, when he suffered a broken left tibia in March that kept him sidelined for a month.
BOSTON, MA - Shawn Thornton spoke with reporters in the Bruins’ locker room at TD Garden, following the game against the Penguins. Choked up and trying to get out his words, Shawn answered a few questions from the media.
"Listen, I feel awful. It wasn’t my intention," said Shawn. "I know Brooksy, I’ve gotten to know him over the last 7 years here, I skate with him in the summer, and did during the lockout. I’ve texted him a couple of times. I definitely feel awful. It was not what I wanted to see or what anyone wanted to see."
A reporter then asked Shawn, ‘What caused you to lose your composure?’
"Obviously, I made a mistake. I’m aware of it," he said. "I’ve been told that I’ll be having a hearing and it’s hard for me to say much more other than that was not my intention. I feel awful and felt sick all game."
"I’ve prided myself for a long time to stay within the lines, and like I said, it’s hard for me to talk about right now. I can’t say I’m sorry enough, and I’m sure I’ll be criticized for saying it, but it’s true. I, I just hope he’s doing alright. I heard that he’s conscious and talking, and I’m happy to hear that."
BOSTON, MA - It's not too often that an injury update ends up being "good news," but such was the case on Saturday morning, when Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli issued an update on Johnny Boychuk.
"Johnny has been diagnosed with a back sprain and will be out for approximately three to seven days," Chiarelli said in the statement.
For anyone who saw the defenseman go awkwardly into the boards after a hit in Montreal on Thursday night, the time frame was a good sign.
"Johnny's doing better," Head Coach Claude Julien told media following the Bruins' pregame skate at TD Garden on Saturday, before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins. "I think we dodged a pretty good bullet there, personally."
Julien said that the team planned to bring Boychuk on the road, for their four-game swing through Canada, starting in Toronto on Sunday.
"Those kind of injuries could have serious consequences. We feared the worst and I think we got as good of news as we could get," said Julien.