WILMINGTON, Mass. -– The Bruins returned to practice Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena bolstered with reinforcements from the trade deadline with newcomers Brian Rolston, Mike Mottau and Greg Zanon all taking part.
Zanan's first day in a Bruins sweater even gave the Bruins an extra defenseman for the workout.
They hope to have two extra defensemen soon, but Johnny Boychuk remains out with what Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli termed a mild concussion on Monday. Boychuk was injured on a hit from Senators forward Chris Neil on Saturday in Ottawa and missed Tuesday’s rematch with the Senators, but is making progress.
Boychuk returned to the ice on Wednesday, skating on his own before practice. How he responds to that workout will be key. The Bruins have learned that stepping back in the rink doesn’t guarantee continued progress, as Nathan Horton suffered a setback after his first time on the ice and remains sidelined indefinitely with a concussion of his own.
"I haven't got any feedback on that yet," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after practice. "Even so, he skated this morning. Those [steps] are more like we find out the next day if everything is good, then we move forward here. Again, it’s a day-by-day situation. We saw what happened with Horts, so just have to keep our fingers crossed."
Boychuk did successfully go through off-ice workouts before returning to the ice, so he is progressing.
"The protocol is always about one step to another," Julien said. "If he's on the ice, he did [have off-ice activities], because they’re not just going to throw him on the ice. He has to go through the protocol, so he’s moving forward with it.
"It's encouraging, but again, we've seen some setbacks, so I’m not holding my breath on anything until they tell me he’s ready to go," Julien added.
The Bruins augmented their blue-line depth with the additions of Zanon and Mottau, but they are still eager to get Boychuk and his booming shot back into the lineup. They won't rush his recovery, though, as having the burly blueliner recently signed to a three-year extension healthy for the long term is far more important.
"We take the cautious approach to those kind of things," Julien said. "We don't want to lose him for a long time because we took short cuts or whatever. We're going by the protocol and going day by day. He's feeling better, so we’re moving forward with him."