I just got back from Wilmington, where the Bruins returned to practice today after a few days off for the All-Star break. Most of the team was back on the ice this afternoon preparing for tomorrow night's game against the Washington Capitals. Claude Julien gave the All-Stars (Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, and Tim Thomas) the day off. Micheal Ryder (flu-like symptoms) and Manny Fernandez ("general soreness") also sat out today's practice. Ryder is expected to play tomorrow night, while Fernandez will likely miss "a few games". With Fernandez hurt and Tim Thomas with the day off, the Bruins called up Tuuka Rask from Providence and had Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa throw on the pads to serve as the second goalie. Phil Kessel did not skate with the team during practice, but worked with Assistant Coach Doug Houda on the ice after practice.
Here is who was there:
Grey Jerseys: Blake Wheeler - David Krejci - Milan Lucic - Patrice Bergeron
Gold Jerseys: P.J. Axelsson - Stephane Yelle - Chuck Kobasew
Maroon Jerseys: Shawn Thornton - Petteri Nokelainen - Byron Bitz
Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa
2 line full ice warmup with pucks being passed back and forth with no real discernable order.
Claude Julien talks with the team
3 man breakout drill
Variation of 3 man breakout with longer pass (D-man is now passing from the top of the circle to a forward near the opposite blue line).
Back to original version of 3 man breakout
Back to the long pass version
Claude talks to team
2 on 1 Drill
Lucic, Bergeron, and Ference all seem to be participating fully in practice, which is a good sign.
There is more media than I have ever seen before at practice today. The entire press box is full and there are several camera crews and other media members gathered in the far corner of the rink.
Controlled 5 on 5 scrimmage. Another good sign: full participation by the injured players
Lucic put a little bit of a hit on Chuck Kobasew. It looks like that shoulder(er..I mean upper body) is feeling better.
Claude Julien has been at the dry erase board for about 5 or 6 miniutes now going over things with the team.
Back to controlled 5 on 5 scrimmage. Bob Essensa is sitting this one out, so the drill ends once the defending team gains possesion and crosses the red line.
Julien has stopped play several times to go over things. It looks like they are trying to work on moving the puck from the back (something that they have struggled with the past couple games).
Short ice (mid circle in) 3 on 3 drill.
There is a good amount of contact in this drill.
Stretch led by Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic
Phil Kessel steps on the ice to a chorus of mock stick salutes from his teammates
Claude talks to the team at center ice
Some players start to head off to the dressing room. Stuart, Krejci, Kessel, and Nokelainen are shooting on Tuuka Rask, while Bob Essensa (in full golaie pads) tries to screen the goaltender.
Byron Bitz talks to assistant Craig Ramsay. It looks like they are working on corner work.
Ference and Hunwick work on shots from the point while Bitz and Wheeler try to deflect their shots in front. Group at the other end of the ice still doing the goalie screen drill.
Kessel works with Assistant Coach Doug Houda and Tuuka Rask. Kessel is just skating around in circles, picking up pucks that are laid out around him and taking shots on Rask. Meanwhile, Ference and Hunwick are working with Assistant Coach Geoff Ward on shots from just inside the blueline.
The remaining few players and coaches head off, except for Kessel, Bob Essensa, and Doug Houda
Bob Essensa heads off. It looks like Doug Houda is going to put Kessel through a light workout, mainly just skating and shooting the puck.
I'm heading out. Kessel is still on the ice working with Houda.
There is a group of about 10 "seekers" in the parking lot (average age: 45). It appears that the rink has put up a new fence to separate the players parking area from the general parking lot to make it harder for these guys. Which I am sure the players are quite happy about.