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Bochenski is sent to Providence

In 35 American Hockey League games last season, Brandon Bochenski had 33 goals and 33 assists, an average of 1.9 points per outing.

But Bochenski, who added 11 goals and 11 assists in 31 games with the Bruins following his trade from Chicago, has yet to skate a shift in 2007-08, despite the club's flickering offense.

With Bochenski's rustiness in mind, the Bruins assigned the wing to Providence yesterday for a two-game conditioning stint. Providence plays against Hartford tonight, then travels to Lowell Saturday. Bochenski is expected to rejoin the big club after the stint.

Yesterday Bochenski practiced as one of two spare forwards along with Jeremy Reich. Bochenski dressed for one game this season, Boston's 2-1 loss to Anaheim after Marc Savard was knocked out with a groin strain. But he didn't get off the bench.

"If you watch practice closely, we're trying to get him to catch up," coach Claude Julien said. "He really fell behind in training camp with that extra weight. It put him half a step behind. We're really trying to get him back on his game before we put him in a position where we'd like to see him succeed."

A time and a place

In the second period Monday, after Montreal scored its third goal of the game, Shawn Thornton tried to do his job.

The Boston tough guy jostled with Mike Komisarek, urging the defenseman to drop his gloves. Komisarek refused to comply with the fourth-liner's request, which Thornton respected, given the situation.

"They've got all the momentum," Thornton said. "I understand. I've been on the other side of the coin. Some days it's easier to find. Some days it isn't."

Thornton, who has logged two fights this season (in the opener against former teammate Todd Fedoruk, then against Tampa Bay tough guy Andre Roy), tried to get into the energy game instead. Thornton played a season-high 11 minutes 48 seconds, throwing two hits and recording one shot and one takeaway.

While the other three Northeast Division teams have their designated musclemen (Ottawa's Brian McGrattan, Buffalo's Andrew Peters, Toronto's Wade Belak), the Canadiens don't have a go-to tough guy, preventing Thornton from picking a fight to lift his teammates.

"I took it upon myself to do other things," said Thornton. "Doing the small things. It's not always fighting."

Saturday at 4

The Bruins changed Saturday's 7 p.m. start against Philadelphia at TD Banknorth Garden to 4 to avoid a conflict with Game 3 of the World Series. The Bruins will not change tomorrow's 7 p.m. start against the Blackhawks, a game that will overlap Game 2 of the World Series . . . After four appearances, Manny Fernandez is 2-2-0 with a 3.93 goals-against average and an .832 save percentage - hardly numbers expected of the 33-year-old, although he didn't have much chance against the Canadiens. "He just needs to find consistency in his game," said Julien. "He knows that. We know that." . . . Tim Thomas, who has the best GAA (1.26) and save percentage (.962) in the NHL, most likely will start against Chicago . . . The Bruins will host Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at the Garden tomorrow. Julien and his assistants are planning to wear pink Hockey Fights Cancer ties. NESN's Jack Edwards, Andy Brickley, and Rob Simpson are also planning to don the pink neckwear . . . If he plays tomorrow, it will be Milan Lucic's ninth NHL game. Lucic practiced with Thornton and Glen Metropolit yesterday.

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