Lucic Expected Back in Lineup, as Bruins Face Kings
BostonBruins.com - Milan Lucic should be back in the lineup on Thursday night, as the Bruins face the LA Kings, looking to earn their first win of the three-game road swing through California.
The winger missed Tuesday's game in Anaheim due to illness. It was the first time he was sidelined all season.
"Probably food poisoning and hit him at the wrong time, and feeling much better, so we anticipate him being good to do," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team's practice in Southern California on Wednesday.
"So hopefully it's just a 24-hour thing and I'll be recovered and ready to go," Lucic said, after taking part in the team's skate.
The Bruins made due without Lucic in Anaheim, with Carl Soderberg slotting onto the top line, and the team rolling out 11 forwards and seven defenseman. They pulled out a dominant five-on-five performance against the top team in the league, but lost the special teams battle in the 5-2 defeat.
While they managed it well, there's no doubt a healthy Lucic will add a boost Thursday night in LA.
No Pregame Skate
As the team prepped for the Kings, they opted to hold a team meeting at the hotel, instead of heading to the rink for a pregame skate.
Lineup updates, including the starting goaltender, will be available (on Twitter @NHLBruins ^CS) when the team holds media availability prior to the game, or once warmups begin at 10 p.m. ET.
Eriksson Taking Contact, but Likely Not Yet Ready for Return
Loui Eriksson has been cleared for contact, and participated in his first practice out of the green no-contact jersey on Wednesday. Julien labeled him "doubtful" for Thursday night, as Eriksson is likely still some time away from a return to the lineup.
"It's his first day with contact, and having been through what he's been through, I don't think you want to rush him too much," Julien said. "He's got to be confident that he can take a good hit and stuff like that, so [Wednesday] was a good first practice there, five-on-five, a little intense, so that's what he kind of needs right now."
"Now it's just a matter of time of him working through that and getting himself back in the lineup."
When Eriksson spoke with media for the first time Wednesday since sustaining the concussion on December 7, he said he's been feeling good for about a week now (as long as he's been skating), and first turned the corner in his recovery after Christmas.
"This time, it took a little bit longer. I've been taking my time this time," Eriksson said, having suffered his second concussion within a span of 45 days. "When I'm ready, I want to be ready full and be healthy and be back."
"You always take care and look after the guy's health first and foremost, and his well being, before you look at bringing him back into your lineup," said Julien.
"That's the way we've always operated here anyways, and I think that's important. Not only that, but you're allowing him the proper time to heal and also, psychologically, you want him not to go in there apprehensive. You want him to feel 100 percent, and that's what we're going to allow him to do."
Caron Questionable vs Kings
Jordan Caron has been skating with the team, after missing the last two games due to a stiff back. On Wednesday, he joined the fourth line in the merlot jersey, along with Justin Florek, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille.
"He's doing better," Julien said. "He made some good progress from [Tuesday to Wednesday] and that's why he was out there with the Merlot Line. Probably a situation that we'll have to look at [Thursday]."
If Caron can't go, Florek will slot into the lineup for his third NHL game. He notched his first career NHL point in Anaheim by assisting on Paille's seventh goal of the season.
The Kings have lost six of their past seven games, with four of those coming on the road. At home, they remain one of the toughest teams in the league, with a 14-5-3 record at STAPLES Center.
Boston is coming off a tough end result, falling to the Ducks 5-2, despite what the team considered a fairly dominant performance, especially to start the game.
But they allowed three power-play goals and a shorthanded tally. The PK has dropped to 10th in the league, and though the Kings own the 24th ranked man-advantage, they could wind up just as opportunistic as the Ducks.
"I think we've just got to be determined the way we were [against Anaheim]. Obviously, we've got to have a good penalty killing unit doing a good job," said Julien, of the mindset heading into LA.
"And the three [power-play] goals came from - in our minds - three major breakdowns on each one of them, so it doesn't take much sometimes to get scored on, and if you've got a major breakdown against a team like Anaheim, who are so good at finishing, you're going to see those kinds of things happen."
"I thought we were the dominant team five-on-five but unfortunately, special teams is what made the difference."
Boston Projected Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Carl Soderberg-Ryan Spooner-Matt Fraser
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Starter: Tuukka Rask
Backup: Chad Johnson