BOSTON, MA - December was not kind to the Bruins, with plenty of injuries and adversity to go around. But as the recoveries continue, two members of the Black & Gold, Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton, are expected to make their returns to the lineup on Thursday night at TD Garden, as Boston hosts Nashville.
Soderberg has missed the Bruins' past two games, with an undisclosed injury. When he hit the ice for his second straight practice skating with the team on Wednesday morning at TD Garden, he was sporting the grey jersey, playing on the third line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser. He took part in contact drills.
Forward Nick Johnson, who had filled in during Soderberg's absence, was assigned to the Providence Bruins.
"Carl's been cleared," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team's practice. "Should be in the lineup tomorrow, and I would say that because you never know, you could come in the next day and things have changed."
Meanwhile, Hamilton also received the same go-ahead
"He's been given the full-go by our medical staff here and I'm hoping that [if] he's good tomorrow, that I get a chance to use him," said Julien, of the defenseman. "So he's certainly a possibility for [Thursday]."
Like Soderberg, Hamilton took contact in practice, as the next step in his recovery from a lower-body injury that has keep him out for the past 10 games. He first sustained the injury on December 8 in Toronto.
"Still have to get used to the game situation stuff and it's going to be a lot of different than what I've been doing the last couple weeks," said Hamilton.
"A little rusty at the start, getting used to everything and getting hit and pushing guys and stuff but I felt good so I guess that's a good sign."
For Hamilton, the more than three weeks of recovery following the injury was a new experience for him.
"Just wanted to play and get back into it, and get back with the team, feel like you're part of the team again," he said. "[Plan is to] just to keep getting better in the next couple of days, and get back into it."
Loui Eriksson Continues Recovery
Loui Eriksson joined the team on the ice for the second straight day, in his recovery from a concussion sustained back on December 7.
"He's just skating so he's a ways away still. He's not close to doing any contact and we're just putting him in for practice just so that he can be around players," said Julien.
While his return is still down the road, Julilen and his staff will eventually have to make the decision of where Eriksson gets slotted into the lineup at that time.
"We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it, and it is something that is to be discussed," said Julien. "We're going to have to look at the situation. Everyone sees that Smitty is playing well so that kind of creates a situation where, when [Loui] comes back, he'll have been out for who knows how long, so do you put him right where he belongs or do you give him the chance to find his game a little bit? These are all things that are going to be talked about before that happens."
Chris Kelly to Start Skating Soon
Center Chris Kelly has also been out of the lineup since the game on December 7 against Pittsburgh, when he suffered a broken right fibula.
Kelly has been around the locker room and continuing workouts to stay in shape. When speaking with reporters on Wednesday in the room, he said he was on track to start skating soon.
Check out more on Kelly's recovery in the Bruins Blog.
Bruins Staying the Course
The Bruins suffered a huge loss with Dennis Seidenberg's season-ending ACL/MCL tear (right knee). While they miss his presence in the lineup, without question, there's been no use in sulking about the injury; the Bruins must stay the course.
"To be honest with you, our team has stayed pretty even-keeled," said Julien, of the morale around the room with injuries. "Through it all, you obviously don't like to see guys injured but, through it all, I think we've stayed focused and stayed the course."
"It's always nice to see players come back, there's no doubt. But this is what I've liked about our team is that nobody's hung their heads and felt sorry for themselves. You just have to look around the league; we're not unique in that situation, so it's just up to us to make sure we stay the course here and continue to play hard and find ways to win some hockey games."
In keeping with that even-keeled theme, the Bruins enjoy seeing their teammates make progress and return to the lineup.
"It's encouraging," Julien said. "[But] it doesn't guarantee wins. Because I think, again, some of those [callups] come in and have played some decent hockey here. When guys have been out for a while, you've got to give them time to maybe be at the peak of their game as well."
"So it's encouraging to see guys come back but, again, I go back to what I said, if you rely on that and don't focus on doing your jobs as individuals, then you're in the same spot as you were before."
White: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Gold: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Ryan Spooner-Matt Fraser
Green Jersey: Loui Eriksson
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