Ice for two of the injured
WILMINGTON - The Bruins welcomed defensemen Adam McQuaid and Steven Kampfer to practice yesterday at Ristuccia Arena, but the status of center David Krejci, who did not practice, was not certain for tonight’s game against the Hurricanes at TD Garden.
Coach Claude Julien said Krejci, sidelined the last two games because of a core injury he aggravated in practice last week, is doubtful. Julien said Krejci skated before practice but that it was unlikely he would be available to play tonight.
“After that, I’d probably qualify him as being day-to-day,’’ Julien said.
The news on McQuaid, who Julien said would be a game-time decision, was a bit more encouraging. He suffered a head and neck injury in Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. McQuaid traveled with the team to Chicago, where he sat out Saturday night’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Blackhawks.
It was an injury that was frighteningly similar to the one he suffered in last season’s playoffs against the Flyers in Philadelphia, where McQuaid crashed into the boards face-first and also suffered a head and neck injury. Last week, McQuaid was hurt when he tried to clear a puck off the wall, lost his balance, and crashed into the boards.
“With what happened last year in the playoffs, it doesn’t take much to get my neck sore now,’’ McQuaid said after practice. “There’s definitely some neck, for sure, but that’s stuff I can deal with.’’
McQuaid said he skated during the team’s offday Sunday in preparation for his return to practice.
“Feels good to be back out with the guys, skating again,’’ said McQuaid, who participated in several drills without any limitations. “Felt pretty good today. We’ll see how the rest of the day plays out and see what happens tomorrow.’’
Having McQuaid return to the ice as rapidly as he did was an encouraging sign to Julien.
“He’s done every test that he has to go through right now - the biking and the exertion, and all that stuff,’’ Julien said. “So things are going well.
“His headaches are nonexistent, and we felt it was probably more the neck injury that was causing that and we’re treating it as a concussion, because it was the safest route to take, so he could go through all the tests. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.’’
A surprise test
Although he had yet to be cleared for contact, Kampfer (sprained knee) survived a big blind-side hit from bruising forward Milan Lucic in an accidental collision at the end of practice.
Both players were doing some individual work at the time. Kampfer, who was doing defensive drills and was skating with his back to Lucic, was flattened from behind by Lucic, who was pushing the puck around, head down, during a shooting drill.
“Yeah, I guess we were supposed to wait until tomorrow [to begin contact work],’’ Kampfer said with a chuckle. “I actually felt fine getting hit like that and not expecting it. I guess that kind of eases the mind a little bit, knowing that you can get hit and it doesn’t hurt anything.’’
Kampfer practiced for the first time since spraining his left knee Sept. 29 during a preseason game in Ottawa. Kampfer, who sprained his right knee late last season playing with Providence, which forced him to miss the first two playoff series, said he had been skating for “three or four days,’’ but was limited in what he did yesterday.
“Yeah, I’m definitely encouraged by how much I’ve done in the first couple of days and how it feels walking and skating, it’s definitely a lot better than what it was last year,’’ Kampfer said. “So to get back and feel as good as I do now, it’s definitely encouraging.’’
Julien was pleased with what he saw from Kampfer.
“He looked good and his skating seems to be where it should be and his conditioning is what we’re working on right now,’’ the coach said. “He hasn’t been cleared for contact, but after today it looks like there’s a pretty good chance that will happen pretty soon.’’
A neat feat
Saturday’s win was Julien’s 300th in the regular season, and was worth nothing, even though it seemed to escape him at the time.
“I think I found out before the home game here [Oct. 10] that I had an opportunity at it,’’ Julien said. “I’d actually forgotten about it before the Chicago game, but it’s nice.’’
Shawn Thornton said the team had no inkling of the significance of what was the team’s first road win of the season.
“That’s awesome, congratulations to him,’’ Thornton said. “I had no idea, though. Maybe he didn’t make a big deal of it because he didn’t want us going out of our way to try and do more than we needed to do to try and win a game. He didn’t even bring it up after. If it was me, I would’ve been telling everybody.’’
Julien downplayed the milestone.
“I mean, 300 is always a nice number to have,’’ said the coach, who now ranks fifth in career victories among Bruins coaches with 181. “But, for me, I look forward to another 300, so that’s the way I look at things. I don’t know if I’d call it a milestone, but it’s a nice feat in this league where coaching is not an easy job to hold onto in the NHL.
“I’d like to look ahead, and if I can get another 300 it means I’ve been around for quite a few years.’’
After he was held without a goal in the first four games of Boston’s 1-3 start, Nathan Horton tallied the tying goal at 7:56 of the third period Saturday night. Julien hopes it will be a building block for the Bruins’ top line. “I think it was because Nathan had a tough start to the season, and there’s no doubt those kinds of things are good,’’ Julien said. “With a tying goal, it was a big goal for us. We’ve gotten used to seeing Nathan score big goals for us, so it was nice to see.’’ . . . With Krejci absent, Tyler Seguin has had to step up and center Horton and Lucic on the top line. “That line today in practice, with Tyler in the middle, is starting to build a little bit of chemistry, so it’s interesting to watch,’’ Julien said. “[Seguin’s] got good speed and the other guys have great vision and are great playmakers. It gives us an opportunity to see what lies ahead for Tyler and what he’s going to bring to this team down the road.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.