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Kessel Will Play Against Devils

Thursday, 01.29.2009 / 12:10 PM / Features
By Angela Stefano  -
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Kessel Will Play Against Devils
Boston, MA - Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel will return to the lineup for tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

After being sidelined with mono for the last six games, head coach Claude Julien gave the forward the “green light” this morning.

“I was hoping that’s what I was going to get,” said a beaming Kessel after this morning’s pregame skate.  “I was told the other day that I was fine, so I’m just looking forward to getting back in it.”

The potential for spleen damage because of hard hits is what keeps players with mono off the ice, but Kessel, who said he wasn’t “feeling like himself” about a month before he was officially diagnosed, swears he’s back to his old self.

“Now, I feel good again, normal,” he said after practice on Wednesday.  “Before, it wasn’t the same, so I’m back to how I was.”

For Kessel, the worst part wasn’t feeling sick or tired, though.  It was not being able to be on the ice during games.

“I hate watching games; I can’t even stand it,” he said.  “You always want to be out there, able to play, and you want to help the team out, so it’s not fun.”

Although Kessel’s been working out off-ice during his absence, not playing for six games can cause problems with a player’s on-ice timing.

“That’s what we tried to do with him at the end of practice – work a little bit on his skills and handling the puck,” said Julien, hoping to ensure a quick transition back into the game for the young forward who, when at the top of his game, is a force to be reckoned with.

“He puts [defenses] on their heels when he uses his speed properly, and when [Marc Savard]’s able to find him on the fly…that’s where his strength lies,” Julien said.  “He’s got that quick release that everybody knows about, and he often catches goaltenders off guard a little bit, so hopefully again he shows us that kind of ability tonight.”

Kessel’s confident he’s pretty much up to speed already.

“I’m just trying to help the team any way I can tonight,” he said.  “I’ve been working out, but, obviously, you just have to get back into it.

“I’m just looking forward to playing…and having some fun.”

Coach Julien, too, is looking forward to some fun, now that the Bruins lineup, once again, looks like it should.  Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference, and Milan Lucic returned for Tuesday night’s game, and Michael Ryder, as well as Kessel, will be back tonight.

“I thought our guys handled adversity fairly well – probably not always the greatest games as far as what our expectations are, but we always found ways to win,” he said.  “You hope that we take advantage of having some healthy guys in the lineup tonight.”




1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
3 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
4 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
5 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
6 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
7 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
8 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43


P. Bergeron 61 18 26 4 44
L. Eriksson 61 14 21 2 35
R. Smith 62 12 23 11 35
B. Marchand 57 18 16 8 34
M. Lucic 61 13 21 11 34
D. Hamilton 62 10 24 0 34
C. Soderberg 62 10 24 6 34
T. Krug 58 11 20 6 31
D. Krejci 38 7 19 7 26
C. Kelly 60 7 19 8 26
T. Rask 25 16 9 .920 2.34
N. Svedberg 6 5 0 .917 2.39
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