SAN JOSE, Calif. - Rich Peverley was approaching the day when he'd be cleared for contact, and that day arrived on Wednesday as the shifty winger took part in 5-on-5 drills during an off-day practice at the HP Pavillion home of the San Jose Sharks.
It wasn't hand-to-hand combat on the ice, but it was pretty clear Peverley was getting bumped around a little bit during the practice session.
Peverley has missed close to six weeks of action with a sprained MCL in his right knee, but was out taking shifts as the extra forward with third line members Brian Rolston, Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot.
Some thought he might slide into the right wing spot on the top line currently manned by Jordan Caron, but it makes much more sense to ease a player in that hasn't skated a shift of hockey in nearly two months.
Peverley has participated on the ice during the last three team practices dating back to Monday's morning skate at TD Garden. These are all good signs that the gritty skill player's return is imminent and that's welcomed news considering the big role Peverley plays in all situations for the Bruins.
There remains an outside chance Peverley could play in one of the weekend games on the trip with the Kings and Ducks on tap for back-to-back games.
Peverley's participation in Wednesday's practice was the highlight of practice for the Bruins after touching down in California for their three-game road trip through the state. Here are the lines from practice:
The Bruins will once again be taking things outdoors and participating in their third Winter Classic in franchise history, but for the first time they won’t be hosting the NHL’s centerpiece event. The B’s announced on Saturday afternoon that they’ll be facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2019 Winter Classic that will be played at iconic Notre Dame Stadium. Both the Bruins and Blackhawks aren’t exactly strangers to the outdoor showcase, and per usual the Black and Gold are happy to be part of a big deal event for the league.
“The Boston Bruins are excited to be playing in the 2019 Bridgestone Winter Classic against another storied Original Six franchise, the Chicago Blackhawks,” said Bruins President Cam Neely, in a press release. “The rich history of Notre Dame Stadium is well documented, and our team looks forward to playing at such an iconic venue. We hope that by participating in these large scale and unique NHL events we can bring Bruins fans new hockey experiences, and that we can use these opportunities to help grow our great game and attract new fans.”
There will be some natural storylines for the game including the rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final participants, and a return to Notre Dame for Fighting Irish forward Anders Bjork after playing three seasons in South Bend. The Bruins/Blackhawks Winter Classic matchup was first reported by Barstool Sports almost two weeks ago, but it wasn’t until Saturday that any of the officials involved were ready to confirm the game.
The Bruins will be in their third Winter Classic after hosting the Jan. 1 outdoor game at Fenway Park in 2010 in an overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and at Gillette Stadium in 2016 in a blowout loss to the Montreal Canadiens. It is a league-most fourth Winter Classic appearance for the Blackhawks, who hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in 2009, took on the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in 2015, and most recently played the St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium in 2017.
You know who else - besides Charles Barkley - isn't impressed by the Celtics' 14-game winning streak?
At the shootaround in Atlanta before the Celtics attempt to make it 15 in a row tonight against the Hawks, Brad Stevens told reporters, including ESPN's Chris Forsberg, that his team hasn't played well enough to make the streak "valid."
“We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid in my opinion,” Stevens said."We’ve figured out ways to win games. We gotta play a lot better.”
The Celtics have come back from double-digit deficits a number of times in the streak. Stevens said they're fortunate those rallies have kept the streak going.
"We've got to be better, and we know that," Stevens said. "We can't get so caught up in the results of all these games and ride that emotion. We've been fortunate to win a lot of the games in this streak, including Thursday night [92-88 over the defending champion Golden State Warriors]. If we dig ourselves a 17-point hole every other game, it's not going to be as much fun as we've had recently."