BOSTON — The Bruins’ blue line was bolstered at Thursday’s practice by Kevan Miller’s return after a two-day absence, but two forwards and one defenseman still were unable to take the ice.
Third-line center Chris Kelly, fourth-line winger Daniel Paille and young D-man Matt Bartkowski were absent from Thursday’s skate, and Bruins head coach Claude Julien didn’t say whether any of them were officially out for Friday night’s Stanley Cup playoff opener against the Detroit Red Wings.
“We’ll see what (Friday) brings,” Julien said. “I don’t think we’re ready to rule anybody out at this point.”
Paille suffered an injury after taking a huge hit up high during an April 12 game against the Buffalo Sabres. The 30-year-old forward hasn’t played since then, and while some have speculated that he might have suffered another concussion, the Bruins haven’t made his ailment public.
Kelly left the April 8 game against the Minnesota Wild with a lower body injury and hasn’t returned to game action. It’s not yet clear how far along these players are in their recoveries, or if any of them are just battling a flu bug that went around the locker room this week.
Recent call-up Justin Florek skated in place of Kelly on the right wing spot on the third line and seemed to fit in well during drills. The 23-year-old forward played well when he was called up in early January, tallying one goal, one assist and a plus-2 rating in three games. He’s not afraid to go hard to the net, battle for loose pucks in the corners and play physical in all three zones.
There’s no doubt Florek has the offensive skill needed to be productive with two playmakers such as Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson on the third line. In addition to his impressive offensive-zone play earlier in the season, Florek also tallied 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists) in 71 games for Providence in the AHL.
“All I know is that (Florek has) been a good player when he’s been called up a few games, and he’s had a few games in Providence, where he’s got, like I said the other day, almost 20 goals,” Julien said.
Jordan Caron skated at the left wing spot on the fourth line in place of Paille. Caron was one of the better players at practice and scored two nice goals during a three-on-two drill toward the end of the skate. If Paille can’t go Friday, it wouldn’t be surprising if Caron plays alongside Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell.
Veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who’s recovering from major knee surgery, skated before the rest of his teammates practiced, which he has done multiple times this week. He was doing skating drills and shooting pucks from different spots on the ice.
Here’s a recap of the lines used at Thursday’s practice and the defensemen who were present.
Line 1 (white jerseys): Milan Lucic — David Krejci — Jarome Iginla
Line 2 (gold): Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron — Reilly Smith
Line 3 (grey): Justin Florek — Carl Soderberg — Loui Eriksson
Line 4 (merlot): Jordan Caron — Gregory Campbell — Shawn Thornton
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug, Corey Potter, Andrej Meszaros, Kevan Miller
Did Not Participate: Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly, Matt Bartkowski