Already without Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson due to injuries, and Shawn Thornton due to an indefinite suspension, the Bruins lost another regular in their win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday night.
During their 5-2 win in Toronto, the Bruins were forced to once again skate the majority of the game with just five defensemen, the fifth time this has happened this season and the second time in three games. This time it was Dougie Hamilton who left the game with a leg injury. Hamilton was sent back to Boston for further evaluation. It was announced Tuesday that Hamilton would miss 2-4 weeks with the leg injury.
After scoring his first career National Hockey League goal Sunday, Kevan Miller left the game late in the third period after being boarded by Maple Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf was not penalized on the play, but was suspended two games by the league for his hit-the first time Phaneuf has been suspended in his nine year career.
The rookie did make the trip to Calgary for Tuesday’s contest, and is expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Bruins take on the Flames.
With Hamilton out of action for the at least the next two weeks, it's clear the Bruins will need to find a replacement for Hamilton, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the replacement will come from Providence.
Injured forward Johnny Boychuk practiced with the team on Monday, skated in the morning skate on Tuesday, and is now expected to return to the lineup in Calgary. The Bruins did not recall any blueliners from Providence, another indication Boychuk is good to go.
Forward Daniel Paille did not skate with the Bruins Tuesday morning and will miss the game against the Flames with an upper body injury. Nick Johnson was recalled from Providence and will make his regular season debut with the Bruins Tuesday night.
Johnson had a great training camp with the Bruins as he was the final forward cut from the Bruins roster. Johnson has 11 goals and nine assists in 23 games for the Providence Bruins. It will be interesting to see if Claude Julien puts Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner and Johnson together as the trio has been a dominant line in the AHL, combining for 64 points.
With the rash of injuries of late, the Bruins depth at both the NHL and AHL level has been tested. Julien has been very pleased with the performance of everyone in the last two games, including guys like Miller, Spooner and Fraser who have all been called-up from Providence in the last few days.
“You’ve got to believe in your system and what you want to accomplish. “The way we play is a very demanding way of playing” said Julien. “But we feel that our scouts and upper management have done a good job of giving us the types of players that can play that game. So even the guys that are being called up, they play a similar style in Providence. It’s about believing in what your team is all about and going out there and doing it, whether you’re a young player or an older player.”
Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug are prime examples of Bruins players who have had success at the NHL level after developing their skills in Providence, the Bruins hope that rings true for everyone else who gets the call-up from Providence this season.
One good thing coming from the crazy amount of injuries is that the Bruins are able to showcase their prospects and really show the rest of the league how talented they are at the minor league level, something that can be used to their advantage when the trade deadline rolls around.
Regardless of who is in the lineup, and who is out, this three game road trip out west will show exactly how much character the Bruins have. If I was a betting man I would say the Bruins and their character will be just fine.
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