Stuart’s return a shot in arm
He takes place of injured McQuaid
PHILADELPHIA — The way Mark Stuart tells it, the most difficult part of his latest treatment — an IV port in one arm, delivering the antibiotics he needs to battle the infection in his left hand — is the damage it inflicts on his veins.
“The medication is pretty toxic stuff,’’ Stuart said. “So you’ve got to keep switching veins.’’
But Stuart and the Bruins had no issues issuing medical clearance for the defenseman to play in Game 4 last night.
Stuart is, after all, a hockey player.
“It’s been quite a bit in a short time,’’ Stuart said of ramping up his conditioning to prepare for the playoffs.
“I don’t want to say rushing it. I had the luxury of guys playing so well and winning games. That makes it a little bit easier for a guy who’s hurt to make sure he’s ready to come back.’’
With Adam McQuaid unavailable last night because of a leg injury suffered in the first period of Game 3, Stuart was cleared just in time to take the rookie’s spot on the blue line.
It was Stuart’s first appearance since April 1 against Florida. He missed the last five games of the regular season, the entire first round against Buffalo, and the first three games of Round 2.
It was hardly a sparkling return.
In the second period, Stuart was in front of Tuukka Rask when Chris Pronger’s slapper skimmed off the defenseman’s stick and sailed over the Bruins goalie to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Just over four minutes later, Stuart chased James van Riemsdyk behind the Bruins net when Andrew Ference was already there.
With the front of the net vacated, Claude Giroux swooped in and batted a loose puck past Rask at 8:35 of the second, making it a 3-1 game.
“Mental mistake,’’ Stuart said. “I kind of went behind the net. It popped out front and they scored. They’re going to the net hard and throwing a lot of pucks. Tuukka did a great job. He made some unbelievable saves.’’
The medical staff’s original prescription for Stuart was to wear a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) line — it would enter in his arm and deliver antibiotics to his heart — for six weeks. While the PICC line would rule out any chance of Stuart playing while it was inserted, the defenseman explained it was less intrusive than the IV port.
During last night’s game, Stuart planned to remove the IV port, then put a fresh one in afterward.
“That’s why they put the PICC line in,’’ Stuart said. “The PICC line is a little bit less stress. You can keep it in for two months. These other IVs, you need to keep switching veins. That’s why you pop them in and out. The veins just wouldn’t hold up.’’
Before Stuart underwent surgery April 4, the defenseman had been skating on the second pairing with Dennis Wideman. On March 11, during a 5-1 win over Philadelphia, Stuart skated 22 shifts for 17:35 of ice time. Stuart fought Dan Carcillo and Ian Laperriere in the win.
Last night, Stuart was on the third pairing with Ference, who had been playing with McQuaid. The lefty-shooting Ference, who had been on the left side with McQuaid, switched to the right.
Stuart skated 16 shifts for 9:46 of ice time. Stuart didn’t play in overtime. The coaching staff went with five defensemen instead.
“Physically, I felt all right,’’ Stuart said. “But I made some mental mistakes out there. I’ll be a lot better.’’
“I’ve played with Looch in the past,’’ Savard said before the game. “And with Miro before I got hurt. So I’m comfortable jumping in there. It’s going to be fine. Just keep playing my game. Get Miro the puck when he’s in scoring position right now. And just help Looch in the corners.’’
Savard landed a game-high eight shots. He played 24:17, most of any Boston forward.
Vladimir Sobotka centered Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, while Trent Whitfield served as the No. 4 center.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.