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Boy, was Boychuk lucky

Serious damage to eye is avoided

Marco Sturm (center) celebrates his third-period goal, his second of the game, with Matt Hunwick (left) and Patrice Bergeron. Marco Sturm (center) celebrates his third-period goal, his second of the game, with Matt Hunwick (left) and Patrice Bergeron. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / February 8, 2010

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MONTREAL - Johnny Boychuk, hammered in the face by a Mikael Samuelsson slap shot Saturday, will be sidelined only 7-10 days because of a fractured orbital bone, and will not return until after the Olympic break.

And that’s the good news.

With Boychuk lying on the ice and blood pooling underneath him, the fear was that the Vancouver forward’s shot had done damage to the defenseman’s left eye. But upon examination Saturday afternoon, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital determined that Boychuk’s fracture was non-displaced - he will not require surgery - and that his eye was unharmed.

“Very lucky,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “Our doctors were talking about a quarter of an inch the other way would have made it much, much worse. With that shot, you’ve got to consider yourself lucky.’’

Boychuk, a rookie, has two goals and seven assists in 31 games. He had appeared in 28 consecutive games since going to Providence for a conditioning assignment in early December.

Boychuk’s injury leaves the Bruins without two defensemen. Mark Stuart (broken pinkie) is also out until after the Olympic break.

Ference back in
Because of Boychuk’s injury, Andrew Ference returned to the lineup yesterday after missing 14 games because of a groin tear. Ference suffered the injury Jan. 5 against Ottawa when he was hit from behind by Chris Phillips.

Ference, skating with Adam McQuaid on the third pairing, played 15:05 over 25 shifts. Ference was on the ice for McQuaid’s first-period goal.

“I thought me and McQuaid just played a simple, solid game,’’ Ference said. “We did our job in our own end. We never got caught playing extended shifts in our zone. That obviously helps, not getting caught for those long ones where you’re chasing guys around. So overall, it was good.’’

The Bruins’ 10-game losing streak coincided with Ference’s absence.

“We were so close the last few games,’’ Ference said. “It’s tough. It’s almost harder to lose when you’re close and you’ve got the lead. You’re doing a lot of good things. Kudos to the guys for sticking with it and just knowing that they’re on the right track to finding that win. I think today wasn’t a huge turnaround from the last few games. It’s just a continuation of what we’ve been doing.’’

Krejci departs early
After absorbing a first-period hit, David Krejci stayed on the bench and missed one shift. Then at 11:33, during a stoppage, Krejci headed for the dressing room, appearing to favor his right leg.

Krejci emerged with his teammates at the start of the second period. But after a few twirls around the ice, he headed back to the room instead of to the bench, his workday cut short after just three shifts.

“He wasn’t able to finish the game,’’ said Julien. “We’re hopeful he’ll be in [tomorrow against Buffalo]. I think we’ll know more [today] on that. Not serious to the point where, right now, it’s a question of whether he’ll be in [tomorrow], as we speak. That could change.’’

Krejci sat out one game, Jan. 14 at San Jose, because of a lower-body injury.

Not so special
Milan Lucic acknowledges he doesn’t feel back up to speed after a left ankle sprain knocked him out for 18 games. One reason may be Lucic’s role as a strictly even-strength player. Entering yesterday’s game, Lucic had averaged 14:11 of ice time per outing, 13:55 during even-strength play.

Of late, Lucic and Miroslav Satan have been the only everyday forwards who haven’t seen special-teams work (Shawn Thornton, Byron Bitz, and Vladimir Sobotka, who have been in and out of the lineup, also have been deployed mostly in even-strength situations).

So when minor penalties take place frequently, Lucic finds himself on the bench, awaiting his opportunity to hit the ice and reintroduce himself to the flow of a game.

“It’s tough, but as a player it’s your responsibility to keep yourself in the game as much as you can,’’ Lucic said. “I think the best way to get around it is when you get out there, you’ve got to push yourself hard on that first shift to get back into it.’’

Lucic, who had been skating with Satan and Marc Savard, was on the fourth line yesterday with Thornton and Steve Begin. Lucic was credited with five hits and one shot in 12:17 of ice time.

Shields up
Zdeno Chara and Marco Sturm, two of six Bruins departing for Vancouver for the Winter Games next week, will have three more visor-free games. In the Olympics, all players are required to wear shields. Satan, Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron, the other three Black-and-Gold skaters participating in the Olympics, already wear visors . . . Sobotka and Bitz were the healthy scratches . . . Blake Wheeler recorded his first NHL fight when he tangled with Ryan O’Byrne at 12:17 of the first. After some back-and-forth hitting, Wheeler initiated the fight, first dropping his gloves, then taking off his helmet (both players wear shields). The fight didn’t last long, as Wheeler lost his balance and went down when O’Byrne connected. “[Thornton] and I had worked on it,’’ Wheeler said of fighting. “Not a whole lot, but just a few brief pointers. I think for the first one, he said I passed the test.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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