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Axelsson good to go

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  October 23, 2008 12:17 PM

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P.J. Axelsson should be back tonight, wearing the "A" on his uniform. (Getty Images)

Claude Julien said that at this point, P.J. Axelsson will be ready to make his return to the lineup tonight against Toronto. Axelsson will play with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler on the third line.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's good to go unless something happens during the day," Julien said of Axelsson. "He looked good. Anytime you get a guy like him -- with that much experience and a smart player like that -- back in your lineup, it's always a plus."

Tim Thomas is feeling well enough to make his fourth start of the season. It has been a straight rotation between Thomas and Manny Fernandez so far.

* For the last three games, David Krejci had replaced Axelsson on the penalty kill. Krejci was paired with Stephane Yelle on the PK the last three games. "I'm happy with every opportunity that I've gotten," said Krejci, who's averaged 1:43 of PK time per game. "I had kind of good PK time at the end of last season. I'll take any time I get on the PK this year." In total, Krejci has averaged 17:22 of ice time per game this season, fifth-most among Boston forwards.

* Both the Bruins and Maple Leafs are winless in the shootout. "We've got enough skill here," said Claude Julien. "Once we start winning a few and the confidence level in that area gets better, we should be better."

* If his last game against Buffalo was an indication (one top-notch scoring chance in front of the net), Wheeler might be trending up again. Wheeler, one of the team's best forwards in camp, played well in the first three regular-season matches, but dipped against Ottawa and Montreal. "Obviously with young players like that, they've got some ups and downs," said Julien. "I'm not going to say the guy is down. But he certainly isn't where he was at in training camp, where everything was going his way. He's got to work his way through it a little bit. But I thought the last game he played very well. As long as he keeps progressing, so will his ice time. That's a part of managing a young player, making sure you don't overutilize him. You don't want him to lose confidence. It's a matter of minimizing his ice time a little bit, and once we see him picking it up again, you give him a little more and let him build his confidence from there."

* Andrew Ference, like Zdeno Chara and director of hockey operations and player development Don Sweeney, is a big-time cyclist and fan of the sport. Ference was interested to hear that the penultimate stage of next year's Tour de France will be a mountain climb instead of the usual time trial. Ference has ridden several stages of the Tour, including the famed Alpe d'Huez, and can't comprehend how the riders can ride as fast as they can.

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