Bruins

Wilcox (back), Milicic (wrist) return to practice

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Wilcox (back), Milicic (wrist) return to practice

WALTHAM The Celtics were back in action on Wednesday -- all of them but Avery Bradley.

Both Chris Wilcox (back) and Darko Milicic (wrist) returned after time off and look to be doing fine.

Wilcox hasn't participated in practice since the team left for Turkey, and didn't play in any preseason games. That said, Rivers was impressed with what he saw out of the 6-foot-10 forwardcenter.

"He went through the whole practice," Rivers said. "He looked like Chris Wilcox exactly. I say that jokingly, but he did what he does, you know what I mean? He ran the floor, rebounded, turned the ball over that's what I've been getting on him about so he did all those things. But he looked pretty good. I was surprised, his conditioning was a lot better than I thought it was going to be."

Wilcox's ability to run the floor on the break made him one of Rondo's favorite targets last season. For that reason, his conditioning is also key. With his back and conditioning issues on the mend, Wilcox is easing into things again.

"It felt good, my first day out there," Wilcox said. "It's tough because you kind of have to feel out what's going on but I felt great out there today."

Not being out on the court was a hard thing for Wilcox to watch everyday. Now, though, he's finally able to help.

"Definitely a big release," Wilcox said when asked about finally getting back out on the court. "Just sitting back there working out everyday in the sideline and seeing thee guys go up and down, I want to be a part of it, you know? We're out there grinding and getting ready for this year and I couldn't be part of it. So today was a great challenge for me. I went out there and worked hard. I mean, it's the first day so I didn't expect too much but I think I did well."

So what does he want to improve on? The list is long.

"Everything, you know what I mean? I'm coming from scratch right now so everything I do I'm trying to improve and trying to get better," Wilcox said.

As for Milicic, Rivers didn't have much to say, but the news sounded somewhat encouraging.

"He was great. Had his wrist heavily taped, but he was fine," Rivers said.

Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

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Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice Wednesday when it appeared rookie Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. 

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Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

The Bruins continue to look for the right mix of players at the start of the season and they’ve called up a couple of forwards off to hot starts in Providence for a look.

Big, skilled Slovakian winger Peter Cehlarik and AHL scoring champ Kenny Agostino have both been called up while it looks like some struggling NHL veterans, perhaps Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano, might be hitting the pine.

The two call-ups, along with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were off to a red-hot start in Providence: Agostino leads Providence with two goals and five assists for seven points (tied for third in AHL) with a plus-four rating in three games this season. Cehlarik is second on the team with two goals and three assists for five points with a plus-three rating in three games with Providence.

Patrice Bergeron was again wearing the maroon no-contact jersey at practice on Wednesday while participating in line drills, and it would appear it’s going to be a stretch for him to be available vs. the Canucks. Adam McQuaid returned to practice on Wednesday, so Ryan Spooner was the only injured Bruins regular that wasn’t able to suit up and practice with the team.

Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice when it looked like Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Wednesday afternoon’s practice with it looking like David Backes might be up for a possible return on Thursday:  
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
Schaller-Kuraly-Backes
Cehlarik-Nash-Agostino
 
Beleskey-White-Vatrano
 
Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma
McQuaid
 
Rask
Khudobin
 

Butler never flips 'off' switch, even in locker-room games

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Butler never flips 'off' switch, even in locker-room games

FOXBORO -- Say this for Malcolm Butler: Since his rookie season he's proven time and again to be an utterly resilient player.

Go back to Super Bowl XLIX. He was beside himself on the sidelines after Jermaine Kearse somehow came up with an acrobatic grab on a pass he deflected in the fourth quarter. Moments later he was back on the field to make the play of life.

Against the Jets on Sunday, he had to make another -- albeit less dramatic -- turnaround.

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Early on, it wasn't pretty. He allowed a third-and-long conversion when he played well off of Robby Anderson during a first-quarter touchdown drive. He allowed 31-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley when he made a bad gamble to try to break up the throw.

Yet without Butler's interception at the end of the first half, and without his strip of Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the fourth quarter, the Patriots might be 3-3 headed into a Super Bowl rematch with the Falcons.

The competitive streak that Butler has exhibited to make game-changing moments regardless of what has happened earlier in the game is something that Bill Belichick has grown accustomed to.

"Since the first rookie minicamp," Belichick said. "He’s a very competitive player, whatever it is. Practice, games, trash ball in the locker room. Whatever it is. He’s a very competitive player."

Earlier this season, in Week 2 against the Saints, Butler was briefly demoted to the No. 3 cornerback role. After the fact, he was open about how he wasn't playing up to his own lofty standards. Since then, he's been the only regular for the Patriots at his position as Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe have dealt with injuries. 

It's been far from perfect, as moments like his breakdowns during the Jets game exhibited. But his aggressiveness rarely wanes. Even during down moments in the Patriots locker, apparently. 

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