Bruins

Bruins practice with makeshift lines after flu strikes

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Bruins practice with makeshift lines after flu strikes

WILMINGTON -- Even the team plane has been disinfected after this one.

The Bruins were missing seven players for Tuesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena, thanks to an episode of the flu that has unexpectedly swept through the dressing room.

Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, Greg Campbell, Dan Paille, Andrew Ference, Adam McQuaid, and goaltender Anton Khudobin were all suffering from flu-like symptoms on Tuesday, forcing Claude Julien to run practice with a shortened roster in preparation for Thursday night's game in Tampa Bay.

"Well, you have to ad-lib, I guess," said the Bruins' coach after Tuesday's practice. "There's still some stuff we could do with our healthy group that would benefit our team. So, we kind of put those drills together and made the best of it.

"We made the most of what we needed to do with this group that we had," added Julien. "It was still a good practice day, but if you want to look at the bright side, we'd rather now than have it happening on Thursday morning. So we'll hopefully have it all taken care of by then."

Julien said he first learned of players being sick on Monday night. But after showing up to the rink on Tuesday, he saw just how bad it was.

"Some last night, some this morning," said Julien. "As you know, they kind of sneak in there, so I think we had about three or four last night, and then we added more this morning, including a coach. It's one of those things that we go through every year. But I don't think we've ever had this amount all at once."

The Bruins have yet to make any call-ups because of the flu-like symptoms as of Tuesday afternoon, but if some players are still sick on Wednesday, they'll have no choice but to do something.

"We're hoping it's a short-term thing, which it seems to be," said Julien. "But if that's the case, then we'll have to deal with that probably tomorrow."

As for the players who are currently healthy, they have only one thought on their mind.

"I thought, 'What can I do to not get sick?' That's probably all the guys' thoughts right now, to just stay healthy," said forward Rich Peverley after Tuesday's practice. "It's too bad something like that happens."

"I had no clue until I got here today and guys were going down with the flu," said forward Milan Lucic. "Hopefully it's just a 24-hour thing where guys can make a speedy recovery. I'm sure they're drinking a lot of fluids and getting a lot of that type of stuff in them throughout the course of the day."

Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

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Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month. 

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

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Bruins still holding out on a goalie decision for Devils game

BRIGHTON -- Coming off a pair of back-to-back wins from backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Bruins are still undecided about what they’re going to do between the pipes Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

On the one hand, the Bruins are very tempted to ride the hot goaltending hand with Khudobin a strong 5-0-2 record on the season and a .935 save percentage that currently leads all goaltenders across the league. There’s a school of thought that the B’s should simply keep plugging Khudobin into the lineup until he actually loses a game, and begins to cool down a little bit between the pipes after stopping 63-of-65 shots against LA and San Jose.

At the same time it will be over a week since Tuukka Rask has played in a game if the Bruins go with Khudobin on Wednesday night against the Devils, and Bruce Cassidy was clear to stress that Rask is still their No. 1 guy. So that’s the dilemma the Bruins are facing with Cassidy calling it “a good problem to have” based on Khudobin’s strong play from the backup spot.

That is a far cry from what the Bruins experienced a year ago with the same goalie, and a reason for optimism that their goaltending situation will be better off throughout a long season.

“Do you go with the hot hand and leave your No. 1 sitting where he’s beginning to wonder what the hell is going on? That’s the decision,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We need to keep them both in a good place, and not lose out on [Khudobin’s] good run while keeping Tuukka focused and confident in his game. That’s what we’re battling and I talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] about it every day. We’ll make our decision [on Wednesday] and we hope it’s the right one.

“It’s a long year so no matter who we use there are a lot of starts. I don’t think Khudobin is going to go ice cold if he use Tuukka tomorrow, and I don’t think Tuukka is going to blow a gasket if we go with the hot hand. For me I don’t think it’s that big of a decision.”

Perhaps Rask blowing a gasket wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world given the way he’s played this season.

The one underlying concern for Rask beyond the .897 save percentage this season is that his game has really been in a different place for the last three seasons. While his .922 career save percentage mark is among the best in the NHL, he has been below that mark in each of the last three seasons while struggling to maintain consistently behind a changing roster that’s turning over to youth and inexperience.

It certainly seems like the Bruins feel it’s premature to label Rask as anything but their No. 1 goaltender, but the pause they’re giving on Wednesday night’s starter speaks volumes about their current confidence level in each of their puck-stoppers.

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