Bruins notebook

Nokelainen, Kobasew stay home

Sobotka, Karsums added to lineup

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / February 14, 2009
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NEWARK - Neither Petteri Nokelainen (eye injury) nor Chuck Kobasew (leg), both of whom were hurt in Tuesday night's loss to San Jose, made the trip here.

According to general manager Peter Chiarelli, Kobasew might join the Bruins in Nashville tonight, but Nokelainen, his right eye poked by Dan Boyle's stick blade, will remain home through the weekend.

In keeping with the team's hush-hush policy regarding injuries, Chiarelli would offer no further details. Meanwhile, the Bruins reached down to Providence and recalled wingers Vladimir Sobotka and Martins Karsums.

Sobotka, an edgy, in-your-face winger, essentially became the replacement for Michael Ryder, who underwent surgery Monday to repair multiple fractures of his sinus bone. But instead of lining up on the right side, Sobotka was on the left, with David Krejci in the middle and rookie Blake Wheeler on the right. Wheeler, signed as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota, was a right winger for the Golden Gophers.

"It doesn't make any difference, really," said Wheeler. "It's just where you line up on the ice for faceoffs.

"On the left side, it means I handle the puck a little more on my backhand, but either way, no big deal."

Karsums, recently back from Latvia where he helped his mother country qualify for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, played right wing on a line with P.J. Axelsson and center Patrice Bergeron.

Hunwick a spectator
The Bruins are carrying an extra defenseman on the trip. Matt Hunwick sat out the game in favor of Shane Hnidy . . . Manny Fernandez, expected to start tonight in Nashville, remained on the ice for a lengthy workout after the morning skate, handling shots fired by the assistant coaches. Tim Thomas (24-7-5) got the start in last night's 1-0 loss, facing ex-Boston College Eagle Scott Clemmensen (24-11-1). Thomas averaged 29 wins the last two seasons and still has an outside shot at collecting 40. Star Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, recovering from early-season surgery to repair a detached biceps muscle, also lingered long after practice to face shots from the assistant coaches. Word is St. Martin could participate in full-team workouts today.

Power hungry
What ails the Boston power play, which has now been blanked in seven of its last eight games? "Sharpness," said coach Claude Julien before the game. "We can talk about many things, but it comes down to sharpness in all areas - making good passes, having good speed, winning battles for the puck, and don't get outworked by the PK." The Bruins are 2 for 31 (6.1 percent) on the man-advantage over the last eight games. Wheeler and Kobasew had the strikes, both against the Senators in a 5-2 win . . . By Julien's arithmetic, the loss to San Jose caused "half" of the Bruins' fans to "jump off the bandwagon." . . . The Bruins had a tough flight here Thursday night, their charter jet tossed around in the wind. "I think there were some white knuckles," said Bob Beers, the ex-Boston defenseman who rides shotgun with Dave Goucher during WBZ's radio broadcasts . . . Jay Pandolfo and Jay Leach were the last two New Jersey skaters on the ice after practice. Both were assigned to press box duty . . . The Devils won 58 percent of the faceoffs, with John Madden swiping 7 of 11. Stephane Yelle and Krejci won only 5 of 17 combined . . . Yelle, put in a new offensive role on the No. 1 power-play unit, landed five shots, second only to the seven put up by Bergeron . . . Ex-Bruin Brian Rolston led all Devils with three shots . . . The Bruins took 55 shots, landing 31. The Devils launched 33 and landed 18 . . . Julien felt his squad should have had more than two power plays, but resisted any temptation to criticize referees Wes McCauley and Rob Shick. "Not going to get fined," he said . . . The last time the Bruins went three games without a win: Oct. 20, 21, and 23 vs. the Penguins, Sabres, and Maple Leafs . . . The Bruins have scored 16 goals in their last seven games . . . They also lost, 1-0, to the Wild Jan. 6 . . . Bruins winger Phil Kessel is without a goal (0-3 -3) in his eight games since returning from mononucleosis. He has only one goal in his last 13 games . . . Marc Savard is a mere 1-1 -2 in his last five games. Krejci, previously an offensive dynamo, is only 1-2 -3 in his previous eight games. Axelsson is without a point since picking up an assist Jan. 21. Bergeron is without a goal since Nov. 21.

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