Chara, Krejci join team for practice
Captain Zdeno Chara and forward David Krejci joined the rest of the Bruins for practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.
Today’s skate was the first time Chara has practiced with the team since tearing his PCL since October 23, when the Bruins faced the New York Islanders. It was also Krejci’s first practice since November 20, as he has been battling an undisclosed injury that has seen him miss 14 of the last 16 games.
Chara and Krejci stayed back from the team’s trip to the West Coast to continue their rehab. Both players have been cleared for practice, but have not for games – but the team seems confident that Chara will return for Thursday’s game against Chicago.
“Right now, I can say I feel more optimistic about Zee right now, that he will [play]. I don’t know about David,” Head Coach Claude Julien said to reporters after practice. “For a guy that hasn’t played in a few months, he’s out there and he looked pretty sharp.”
“I haven’t been told anything yet about any of those guys. I’m just suspecting,” Julien said. “I know Zee’s really excited about wanting to play Thursday. I suspect that if he’s excited, that there’s probably going to be – hopefully – the medical staff clearing him to play, so I haven’t been told that yet, but we’re hoping that’s the case. The other guys, I haven’t been told any of that stuff either.”
Paille, Soderberg out with virus
Forwards Daniel Paille and Carl Soderberg missed Tuesday’s practice due to a “virus.”
Mumps have been a concern across the league, as nine NHL players have been diagnosed since the start of the season.
While the “virus” the two players have come down with has not been confirmed to be the mumps, Julien said that the Bruins took the proper precautions before heading out west, where the outbreak has hit the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks the hardest.
“We took those precautions, even before we went out there. It was something we did, made sure everyone was tested and everyone was vaccinated who needed to be vaccinated,” Julien said. “So we took all the precautions we needed to take when we went to Anaheim.”
Gagne takes personal leave of absence
Forward Simon Gagne was missing from Tuesday’s practice as well. When asked, Julien said he is “on a personal leave of absence right now. We don’t know how long it’s going to be.”
Gagne is the second player on the fourth line to have missed Tuesday’s practice, and it is unclear if he or Paille will be available for Thursday’s game.
With Gagne, Soderberg, and Paille missing, the Bruins only had 10 forwards to practice with. The absences saw only three lines available for practice, with Loui Eriksson playing right wing with Milan Lucic and Krejci.
Julien was unsure if that line would skate together for Thursday’s game, and explained that the lack of forwards was the reason for skating the trio during today’s practice.
“I really don’t know yet. I guess we’re trying to find some stability in our lines,” Julien said. “Hard to answer – you might see [Loui] at times with them and maybe I’ll stick with that line that’s been good as well [with Seth Grifith], when everyone’s healthy.”