Bruins are down by two early
Bergeron, Kampfer won’t play against the Penguins
WILMINGTON — The Bruins will have to shuffle the deck again for tonight’s game against the Penguins. But as they take aim at their eighth straight victory, they’re confident they are holding the right cards to win the game. Any game.
“We’re finding ways to win,’’ said veteran Mark Recchi. “For Ottawa [a 1-0 win March 1 in the finale of a six-game road trip], it was a lot of travel, a lot of work, two days of really coming across East and then the third game in four nights, and we found a way to win. Give the guys credit: It was a tough game to battle in and we found a way.’’
The challenge against the Penguins will be to find a way to plug holes, particularly on defense. Steven Kampfer was felled by a Mattias Ritola check in the second period of the Bruins’ 2-1 win over Tampa Bay Thursday. The defenseman woke up with a headache yesterday. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion and will be out for at least a week, according to coach Claude Julien.
Patrice Bergeron also missed practice. Julien said the team’s leading scorer (21-29—50) left town to attend to a personal matter and he, too, will miss tonight’s game.
Defenseman Andrew Ference, who has missed three games with a lower-body injury, has not resumed skating, although Julien said he expects Ference back on the ice tomorrow or Monday.
Shane Hnidy is practicing with the team, but Julien said that although he took a little more contact yesterday, the defenseman has not received medical clearance to play games. Julien said Hnidy, who had surgery to repair a shoulder injury suffered in training camp, is probably 2-3 weeks away.
So the Bruins are short a defenseman. Late in the afternoon, Matt Bartkowski was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis. Bartkowski, a Pittsburgh native, was recalled for two games in January, both against his hometown team. Tonight’s game will complete his Penguin trifecta. The 22-year-old has five goals and 21 points in 55 games for Providence.
With Bergeron missing, Rich Peverley took over at center between Recchi and Brad Marchand at practice, and Chris Kelly took the pivot between rookie Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder. That left two lines intact: Gregory Campbell with Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, and David Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Milan Lucic. The latter trio has put up 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in the last five games.
“More than likely, we’ll at least probably start with that [lineup],’’ said Julien.
The coach would not tip his hand, as usual, on his goalie, but he did say he was pleased with the balance that Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask have reached, in terms of sharing the workload while both keep sharp.
The depletion in the defensive corps is ameliorated by a surge in Johnny Boychuk’s game. Against the Lightning, Boychuk played what Julien called probably his best game of the season, dealing a handful of full-bodied checks among his five hits, most notably a hip check on Nate Thompson that crushed the Lightning forward into the boards.
“We really felt that was one of his best games in a long time,’’ said Julien. “That’s the Johnny Boychuk we want to see and know that he can bring every night. Hopefully that was the start of something good.
“I thought overall our whole D corps was very good, where maybe it struggled in Ottawa a little bit as far as puck-moving is concerned.’’
Every game is a bit like being dealt a new hand. The Bruins are gaining confidence that the deck is stacked in their favor.
“We’re focusing on us right now,’’ said Recchi. “We don’t focus on the other teams. We’re focusing on the process of being a tough team to play against by the end of the year.’’