Back Check with the Bruins Buff

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bergeron to Play Wing? And more.

Plenty of Bruins buzz in the Hub of Hockey this afternoon.

Looks like the All-Star Break was just what the doctored ordered to cure the B's injury bug. Three of the club's top players will return for tonight's home game against the Washington Capitals.

The Boston Globe reports that Patrice Bergeron will likely skate on a line with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler.

Switching Bergeron to the wing may be the best way to ease him back into the game after suffering another concussion. The Bruins have enough depth at center to allow Patrice the opportunity.

It'll also help Bergeron focus on his offensive game -- right now, he's on pace for a lackluster 38 points this season. Not ideal numbers for a player who put up back-to-back 70+ point seasons before missing most of last year.

Some also forget that Patrice Bergeron started in the NHL as a winger. He registered 16 goals in his rookie season, including a nifty game-winning playoff goal against the hated Habs.

Bergeron's move to Krejci's wing might also be influenced by Michael Ryder's absence at this morning's practice. Ryder has been ill with flu-like symptoms for the past week. No word yet on whether he'll play in tonight's game.

Other interesting notes this afternoon...

Andrew Ference will suit up tonight for the first time in 31 games. The Globe reports he'll be paired with Dennis Wideman, hopefully adding some much-needed grit to the defensive line.

But Andy's return to the lineup leaves the B's with seven active defensemen. Coach Claude Julien took this into consideration and experimented with some possibilities this morning.

Defenseman Matt Hunwick played wing on the B's fourth line during today's practice. Looks like he might be the odd-man out with Andrew Ference returning to the defensive line.

Will Hunwick stay on the wing for tonight's game? Not sure if like this move. He proved himself worthy of a defensive spot when Ference went down earlier in the season.

In 35 games with the big club, Hunwick registered 3 goals and 12 assists. He also holds a +11 rating.

If anything, I would've expected Mark Stuart to sit in the press box. Aside from a two-goal performance against the lowly Thrashers on Dec. 8, Stuart hasn't been particularly noteworthy this season.

Hopefully Hunwick played wing in practice to fill temporary gaps. Perhaps the Broons will call up forward Vladimir Sobotka from Providence later this afternoon.

Milan Lucic will also return to the lineup tonight. He's expected to play wing on the B's top line with Marc Savard and Chuck Kobasew.

"Moses," as B's defenseman Aaron Ward so aptly nicknamed him, brings a physical presence that the team has been lacking for almost the entire month. Look for him to throw some huge hits early to set the pace for tonight's game.

No updates on Phil Kessel's condition this morning.


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