WILMINGTON, MA - When the Bruins hit the ice for practice on Friday afternoon at Ristuccia Arena, Torey Krug was the only player absent from skate.
Head Coach Claude Julien attributed it to a "maintenance day" for the defenseman. As for his availability for Saturday's 1:00 p.m. matinee against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden, Julien said, "we'll see how he is tomorrow, and if he's good to go, he'll go."
If Krug is not able to go, Kevan Miller (who was the healthy scratch on Thursday night against Nashville) will likely slot in.
Loui Eriksson continued skating with the team for the fourth straight day, and remained the only player in a green jersey, as he hasn't yet been cleared for contact. He did take part in battling drills, though, to an extent.
"He's just skating so he's a way's away still," Julien said two days prior, on January 1. "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."
Hamilton Strong in Return
On Thursday night, Dougie Hamilton did not look a player who had been out of the lineup for 10 games. The lower-body injury had kept him out for nearly a month; the rust didn't show.
"I just talked to him there after practice and he said the same thing to me, he agreed, that the way he was pushed and managed during his injury, and coming back, we push guys hard," said Julien, on Hamilton feeling strong in his return.
"As you can see again with the extra guys, and those things [with extra work] sometimes seem like punishment, but they're not; they're in order to give those guys the best chance possible at coming back and jumping right in and feeling like you're able to keep up."
"You know, Douglas pushed hard off the ice and on the ice during his rehab, and he came in last night and seemed like a guy that hadn't missed a game."
The blueliner logged 17:56 in ice time, assisted on Brad Marchand's overtime-winner with good puck protection in the defensive zone to start the breakout up ice, and was credited with two hits and a blocked shot.
"I thought I felt good," said Hamilton. "I think those bike rides were a lot tougher than my shifts and I think I was just trying to keep it simple and make sure I didn't get caught out there, so I just tried to make it easier on myself."
With his strength increased, he didn't feel like he had any really tough shifts.
"I guess that's what the plan is," he said, having just been through the first injury experience of his career. "It's all just about working hard to get back in the lineup, trusting the trainers, and knowing that you'll be good to go."
"I really liked his game because he was a strong skater and right in there," said Julien. "And that's what you need, so you've got to credit the guys that had to work with him to rehab him off-ice - and that's Whitey, and then the assistant coaches pushing him during that time that he was working his way back."
Hamilton's defense partner for most of the night felt the same.
"I thought he played extremely well," said Captain Zdeno Chara. "He's a smooth skater and he handles the puck really well so I think anytime you have a guy like that coming back into the lineup, it makes things a little bit easier, and for him, it's a big thing if he's moving the puck and his feet; he's such a talented guy that he's obviously noticeable."
Thornton on Defense?
Down a blueliner for practice on Friday, Shawn Thornton filled in on defense, sporting the black jersey (worn by those on the back end), and getting back to his roots in a sense. The forward actually started out as a defenseman at a young age, and continued in that position to start juniors, before being moved up front (and putting up a 19-goal, 29-point season on the Peterborough Petes' second line, nonetheless).
For his first few years in the AHL with the St. John's Maple Leafs, he moved back to defense, and even slotted into that role here and there with Norfolk/Chicago, but his "Merlot Line" role (and occasional sniping abilities) have cemented him as a forward and "resident tough guy" in Boston.
Svedberg Back to Providence
Goaltender Niklas Svedberg earned his first win in his NHL debut on Thursday night, making 33 saves in the contest.
He looked extremely poised and calm, and certainly made an impression, though he was assigned back to Providence after the game to continue his development.
"I didn’t see him being much different from the first until the third," Julien had said postgame, on how comfortable the netminder looked.
He stopped all eight shots he faced in the first period of the Bruins' eventual 3-2 overtime win, 15-of-16 in the second, ad 10-of-11 in the third.
"I thought in the second, when they did throw a lot of pucks at him, he stood tall and made some good saves," said Julien.
"I liked his game…he was good and he just showed us that he’s a guy we need to look at and keep an eye on. He’s going to head back to Providence, but there’s a good chance you’re going to see him here again very soon."
White Jerseys: Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Gold: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Grey: Carl Soderberg-Ryan Spooner-Matt Fraser
Merlot: Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Jordan Caron
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