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Hard practice needed

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  September 23, 2009 02:47 PM

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After seeing some lax play last night against Columbus and acknowledging the lack of preparation time for next Thursday's for-real game against Washington, Claude Julien split his squad into two groups: a morning lineup of youngsters, and an afternoon crew of veterans.

"It was the best way to do it," Julien said. "With those other guys, I was clear to them that they would also play. The first group will continue to play. Some of those guys still have to fight for a job here. It was just important to put our team -- four lines and six D's together -- and go from there. It allowed us to have a better-quality practice because the players kind of know what we're looking for out of them. We picked up the pace as well."

Zdeno Chara and Steve Begin are suffering minor groin and hip flexor discomfort and sat out the second session. Julien said that had they been healthy, Vladimir Sobotka and Johnny Boychuk would have skated with the first group.

* Marco Sturm left the second session early because of groin discomfort.

* Blake Wheeler, struck around the right eye with a puck, required stitches to close several wounds. Julien said Wheeler is fine.

* Julien said he hopes to have his final roster play in Saturday's preseason finale against Columbus.

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