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Bruins Notebook

Boychuk has a concussion

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / February 28, 2012
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WILMINGTON - Given the ferocity with which Chris Neil walloped Johnny Boychuk Saturday, it is no surprise the Bruins defenseman will not play tonight in the rematch against Ottawa. Nor is Boychuk expected to dress anytime soon.

Boychuk has been diagnosed with a concussion and didn’t practice yesterday. It is the first concussion Boychuk has suffered as a Bruin.

Neil dropped Boychuk with a clean shoulder-to-chest hit in the third period of the Bruins’ 5-3 win at Scotiabank Place. Boychuk had initiated the breakout on the right side and didn’t see Neil approaching. Although Zdeno Chara challenged Neil to a fight later in the third, the Bruins acknowledged it was a clean hit despite its viciousness.

It was the type of punishing slam that Boychuk deals more often than he absorbs. He has been a reliable right-hand man to Chara on the No. 1 pairing. Boychuk is averaging 20:29 of ice time per game, third-most on the team after Chara (25:04) and Dennis Seidenberg (23:59).

Boychuk’s concussion underscored how crucial defensive depth will be during the stretch run and in the playoffs. Yesterday’s acquisitions of Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau weren’t reactions to Boychuk’s concussion. But the Bruins are aware that other injuries could strike.

“What I’ve seen over my time in hockey is defensemen can drop like flies. They really can,’’ said general manager Peter Chiarelli. “You can never have enough defensemen. We felt we wanted to have eight NHL defensemen in the mix. That was the blueprint I was working on.’’

During yesterday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, Seidenberg replaced Boychuk as Chara’s partner. They formed the power pairing in last year’s postseason after Game 2 of the first round, although they have not played together this season. They could be paired tonight against Ottawa. If that happens, Andrew Ference and Joe Corvo could be the second pairing. Mottau could skate with Adam McQuaid.

Corvo: “Dirty hit’’

Corvo, belted in the third period of Saturday’s win by Kyle Turris, was not pleased with the Ottawa center’s actions. Corvo termed Turris’s check a “dirty hit.’’ As Corvo sent a breakout pass up the ice, Turris launched himself into the defenseman from his left side. Turris was not disciplined for the hit.

If Corvo (one career fight) comes calling, Turris (two scraps) might have to answer the bell. Considering the significance of the game, however, it may not be the best time to pick a fight.

“In Joe’s case, it was upsetting the way he got hit,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “I can understand some frustration there. At the same time, I think Joe, like anybody else, knows how important it is to win the game versus doing anything else. Joe’s a pretty smart individual. We need him on the ice. He knows that. When you hear the final results of what’s happened and you notice the guy doesn’t get anything for it, it can be upsetting. I understand where he’s coming from. But he’s got to be bigger than that. I’m sure he will be.’’

Thornton still ill

Shawn Thornton didn’t practice yesterday. He was scratched Saturday because of an illness, although he might be available tonight. If Thornton can’t play, Jordan Caron will most likely ride in his spot alongside Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell.

“It will all depend on not just myself but what the doctors feel his situation is like,’’ Julien said.

Thornton texted Mottau after the trade. Thornton is friends with Jeff Farkas, Mottau’s former roommate at BC.

Trio assigned

After being recalled from Providence before yesterday’s practice, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Max Sauve were returned to the AHL in the afternoon. Carter Camper was also assigned to Providence . . . Patrice Bergeron and Tim Thomas are the only current Bruins Rolston played with during his previous time in Boston. Assistant general manager Don Sweeney was also a Rolston teammate . . . Rolston was available on waivers; he cleared yesterday at noon. Chiarelli explained that he didn’t claim Rolston because he wanted to swap out a player under contract in return. The Bruins have 48 players under contract, two fewer than the 50-man limit . . . Mottau said he once had the Bruins media guide committed to memory. Mottau cited Ray Bourque and Cam Neely as his favorites . . . During his news conference yesterday, Chiarelli mistakenly identified Yannick Riendeau as Vincent Riendeau. The latter suited up for the Bruins for two seasons in the mid-1990s. The former had little chance of ever pulling on a Black-and-Gold uniform.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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