WILMINGTON, Mass. — After a couple days off to recover from their trip to Europe, the Bruins returned to work with a spirited practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday.

Not all the Bruins were present, though the absences of the two players from the current lineup were for minor ailments and progress continues to be made with the club's more significant injuries.

Defensemen Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg both left practice early. Ference received treatment for a nagging thumb injury, while Seidenberg was sidelined by a stomach illness.

"With Sides it was either a touch of the flu or a little food poisoning," said coach Claude Julien. "It was very minor. With Ference, he ended up getting a cortisone injection in his thumb and the doctors were telling him not to shoot any pucks today. So he just skated. But he'll be fine. He'll be on the ice tomorrow. It's very, very minor."

With both blueliners leaving early, forward Shawn Thornton, who played defense in juniors, switched from his maroon fourth-line practice jersey to a black one and skated on defense for the later drills in practice.

As for the club's more long-term injuries, Marco Sturm is close to getting back on the ice as he continues to rehab from surgery after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee in last spring's playoffs. He hopes to start skating soon, though the timetable for his return to the lineup remains sometime in November at the earliest.

"He hasn't skated yet, though he will soon," said Julien. "I think he's going to start very soon here."  

Marc Savard remains out indefinitely as he struggles to overcome post-concussion symptoms. The good news is that he is slowly ramping up his physical activities, as he was working out on an exercise bike while the team was practicing.

It's still far too early to set any possible dates for his return, however.
"I can't answer that," said Julien when asked about Savard's status. "I've taken the approach that as long as he's not with us, I've got to keep working with our group here. I haven't really had a chance to talk to the medical staff, but he's been working out. That much I know. And it's getting better every day, so I'm looking forward to seeing him on the ice and we'll take it from there."

Julien was quick to add that Savard still has a long road ahead of him.

"He's behind by at least a month, month and a half already where we've been on the ice," said Julien. "So we'll have to be patient. Right now I don't think there's any reason why we should push this guy to get back. We should be helping him to get back and that's the thing we have to make sure we do here. Give him that due time to make that comeback, and when he's ready to make it we'll help him through it."