WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Bruins were down to a skeleton crew for Friday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, but don’t expect them to stick with the bare bones roster for too long.
Boston sent defenseman Steven Kampfer and forward Jordan Caron down to Providence on Thursday, leaving the club with no spare players beyond the 20 allowed to dress in a game. With everyone healthy, the Bruins won’t need any extra bodies when they complete a home-and-home series with Toronto Saturday night at the Garden, but Kampfer and Caron should be back in Boston soon to give the Bruins some insurance before heading out on the road next week.
“I don’t think we want to go on the road trip with 20 [players],” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “There’s no doubt they’ll be back. They’re playing [Friday in Providence], then we’ll decide whether to bring them back [Saturday] or maybe leave them down for another game, but we’re not going to go on the road trip with 20 players. They’ll be back.”
The Bruins play at Pittsburgh on Monday, then go to Winnipeg for the first time in 15 years on Tuesday. Kampfer and Caron aren’t likely to play in those games unless an injury strikes, but the Bruins will need them on hand and ready to play if such a situation does arise. Julien also stressed that even though Kampfer and Caron have been sent to Providence, they are still very much a part of the Bruins team.
“They’re here with our team and this is where they belong,” Julien said. “We’ve got the luxury of not having to waive those guys and we need for them to play. I don’t believe in a guy sitting for six, seven, eight games and putting them in the lineup and expecting them to step right in and do a good job if they haven’t played in a while.”
Caron has 1-2-3 totals in 11 games with Boston this season, but has not played since Nov. 15 as he had been a healthy scratch for the last seven games. Kampfer has played just five games with 0-1-1 totals, last dressing on Nov. 17. He’s been a healthy scratch for six straight games.
The Bruins, who are coming off a historic 12-0-1 run in November, aren’t about to shake up their lineup, so going to Providence is the only way for youngsters like Kampfer and Caron to get playing time and stay in game shape. The Bruins can also shuttle them between the NHL and AHL without any restrictions, as they do not need to clear waivers to be assigned to the minors.
“Sometimes you don’t have a choice because you have to put guys on waivers [to send them down] and then you can lose them,” Julien said. “But in that case, those guys don’t have to [clear waivers] so that’s the thing we keep doing with those guys to give them a chance to play. They appreciate as well. It’s not really a demotion when you get a chance to play because everybody wants to play. It’s great for them.
“We need them ready to be able to jump into our lineup when they’re called upon,” Julien added. “And playing there just gives them and us an advantage.”