The Bruins got some good news long before the puck even dropped in Ottawa.
After his club's morning skate on Thursday, Bruins coach Claude Julien offered an encouraging update on the condition of injured defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
"Johnny's just a mild knee sprain," Julien told reporters in Ottawa. "He's day to day, so good news."
That's very good news for the Bruins, especially since Boychuk appeared to be more seriously hurt when he went down in pain after a collision with Pittsburgh forward Arron Asham in the third period of Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Penguins at the Garden.
Boychuk remained down for several moments before being helped off the ice and to the Bruins locker room. He did not return to the game and did not practice Wednesday, instead spending the day with doctors undergoing tests on his left knee.
Boychuk remained behind in Boston when the team traveled to Ottawa for its final road game of the regular season. How many more games he will miss, and whether he will be back in time for the start of the playoffs, is not yet known, but Boychuk should not be sidelined anywhere near as long as initially feared. The Bruins close out the regular season Saturday at the Garden against the Sabres, then will likely open the playoffs Thursday at home with the Senators the probable opponent.
While the Bruins received encouraging news on Boychuk, Julien was more cautious in discussing the progress of Nathan Horton. The Bruins forward has been out since suffering a concussion on Jan. 22, but returned to the ice on Wednesday, skating for about 40 minutes prior to the team's practice.
"Don't read too much into it, he just started skating," Julien said. "It's still a situation that is still not even close to being where you guys might think it is."