PHILADELPHIA - Their roster already riddled with injuries, the Bruins were down two more bodies by the end of the first period yesterday afternoon against the Flyers.
"We're banged up right now," said coach Claude Julien. "Let's face it, we're banged up."
And that was before the game, when Julien revealed that stalwart winger P.J. Axelsson had a bruised right foot and could not suit up against the reborn Broad Street Bullies.
Only 5:38 into the first, the body count began to mount when tough-as-nails Jeremy Reich took a shot off the left foot and was quick to signal to the bench that he would not be able to make it off the ice under his own power. With help from teammates and the training staff, he hobbled over the boards.
"Only a stinger," said Reich, who returned during the second period. "I couldn't feel anything at first, but we iced it down, and finally I got some feeling back. No problem."
With only 1:19 left in the first, hard-hitting winger Milan Lucic ended up the victim of his own hit, attempting to drill ex-Oiler defenseman Jason Smith into the boards behind Flyer goalie Antero Niittymaki. Lucic got a good piece of Smith, but slipped a bit on the delivery and ended up hitting his nose straight into the top of the boards.
Dazed, and down on the ice, Lucic needed a minute or two to get upright, and when he did, he left behind a small pool of blood that brought out attendants with scraper and shovel.
Outcome: A broken nose, and laceration around his left nostril that required 15 stitches.
"Good doctor. He snapped it back into place and I was fine," said Lucic. "No more making movies for me. I guess I'm going to have to stick with hockey."
Lucic came back midway through the second, first with a half-visor to protect his nose. A couple of hits caused his nose to bleed more, which had Lucic later adding a full visor. In a league that too often has guys hiding out in the trainer's room, Lucic showed old-time hockey blood-and-guts.
"That's a great sign," said veteran defenseman Aaron Ward. "Some young guys might have packed it in there . . . a fractured nose, his head a little [dizzy], I'm sure. As a veteran player, that's just great to see."
Meanwhile, no telling how long Axelsson will be sidelined. He was walking with a protective boot on his right foot and said he will have a CT scan tomorrow at Massachusetts General Hospital. If the scan shows a fracture, he could be sidelined for a minimum of 2-3 weeks.
A Duck or a decoy?
Are the Bruins and Ducks talking trade again? Possibly.
Al Coates, senior adviser to Anaheim general manager Brian Burke, was in Boston for Thursday's tilt with the Canadiens, and lo and behold, he was here for the matinee. When an old acquaintance suggested to Coates that he had to be checking out Boston's players, the affable Coates offered only raised eyebrows and said, "I'm here to see you."
The most tantalizing component for the Bruins on the Ducks roster would be aged defenseman Mathieu Schneider. At 38, the former Mount St. Charles star remains a high-end skater, and could be a great help for the Bruins in moving the puck out of their own end.
Last year, the Ducks dealt Stanislav Chistov to the Bruins, and just days ago the two clubs made another swap: Brandon Bochenski to the Ducks and Shane Hnidy to the Boston back line.
Zdeno Chara assisted on all three Boston goals in regulation - his first three-point contribution this season . . . Peter Schaefer, who supplied a goal by tipping a Chara blast, last put a puck in the net Dec. 12 . . . Newcomers Vladimir Sobotka and David Krejci combined for seven of Boston's 32 shots . . . Despite getting his nose broken and needing stitches, Lucic led the field with five hits for the day. A different player, obviously, but he is beginning to equal Patrice Bergeron for "draft find" status. His hits are almost always bone-crushers. If he hit with malice, the outcome could be ugly for the victim . . . Good day at the dot for Marc Savard, who won 61 percent of his 23 faceoffs. Krejci lost 7 of 9 draws . . . The Bruins work out this afternoon at the Garden, with season ticket-holders invited to attend.