Joe Corvo Returns to Bruins Lineup, But Shoring Up Blueliner’s Game Still a Work in Progress

Joe Corvo Returns to Bruins Lineup, But Shoring Up Blueliner's Game Still a Work in ProgressBOSTON – For the first 70 games of the season, Joe Corvo was a fixture on the Bruins defense.

He was one of just a handful of players to dress for every game to that point, but had struggled for much of the season. With the depth added at the deadline with the acquisition of veteran blueliners Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau, Corvo found himself suddenly out of the mix, a healthy scratch for six straight games.

Corvo returned to the lineup on Thursday, playing against Washington with Dennis Seidenberg sidelined with a leg infection.

"It felt good," Corvo said. "I mean, nobody likes to not be able to contribute to the team and just practice every day and not get to play in games. So, it felt good to be part of the team again in a game situation."

Corvo wasn't exactly eased back into action, as the Bruins were down to five defensemen before the end of the first period after Adam McQuaid was injured on a hit into the boards late in the opening frame. He finished with 20:13 of ice time, more than his season average of 18:44 coming into the night.

While not liking the sight of a teammate injured, Corvo felt the short rotation on defense did help him get back into the flow of playing again.

"Not playing in games, you get winded a little quicker," Corvo said. "But other than that I think it was a good thing. It sharpens you up right away."

Corvo wasn't completely sharp though. He was even on the night with one blocked shot, but also had no shots on goal and was charged with two giveaways. That drew an interesting appraisal of his performance from Bruins coach Claude Julien.

"It's his first game back in a while, and, you know, I didn't see any glaring mistakes that would point the finger in his direction," Julien said. "To me, he was still a decent puck-moving defensemen, so I certainly wouldn't qualify him as a bad player tonight."

With the status of Seidenberg and McQuaid uncertain, the Bruins may need to keep Corvo in the lineup for the foreseeable future, and he is staying ready if he indeed is called upon again.

"I don't know what's going to happen with Adam or with Dennis," Corvo said. "You just show up for your job every day. I don't know what else I can say. I prepare to be in the lineup every day. I don't come to the rink, warm up and think that I'm not playing. You have to prepare yourself in case something happens last minute, so just keep doing the same things and see what happens."

Still, all that preparation without actually getting into a game for the past couple weeks can wear on a player, though Corvo did take comfort in the fact that the Bruins have been winning of late with a 5-1-1 record in their last seven games.

"It's difficult," Corvo said of not playing. "But at the same time when the team's winning it makes it easier. I think everybody in the room is feeling good. We're stringing wins together, so that actually makes it pretty easy because you enjoy the success the guys are having. You're still part of the team. When you're winning nobody asks any questions."

The time off also had some benefits, with Corvo able to work on his game in practice and observe the play from up top in the press box while sitting out.

"I'm just trying to battle harder and just boxing guys out," Corvo said. "Just battles in the corner, one-on-one, trying to get better at that.

"I think the game shrinks down for you," Corvo added. "You focus a lot more on each shift and actually, I guess end up playing a little better, a little tighter and just better. That's what I felt. I felt like my head was in the game the whole time because you don't want to give anybody a reason to take you out of the lineup when you get a chance."

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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