The Boston Bruins returned home to Warrior Ice Arena on Wednesday following a two-game Canadian road trip and had their hands full integrating a multitude of moving parts.
Brandon Carlo returned for the first time since being sustaining an upper-body injury on Nov. 10, while Ryan Donato made the trek back to Boston after an effective AHL stint and center Jan Kovar — playing on a PTO for Providence — practiced for the first time with the big club. The Bruins also confirmed Kevan Miller’s second appearance on their injury list before Wednesday’s practice.
Donato’s call-up — albeit with 25 stitches and five fewer teeth — comes at a time when goals are at a premium. The Bruins are 3-1-2 despite scoring 11 goals in their last six games.
The former Harvard standout, who tallied a single goal in 11 games during his first month in Boston, made the most out of his time in Providence with an impressive 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games. His student-like approach went a long way toward his success down I-95.
“It was great. I lost a couple of teeth, but other than that it was a fun trip. I learned a lot and scored, which is nice. Hopefully I can bring what I learned at that level up here,” Donato said about his experience in Providence.
“Nobody wants to be sent down but there are positives of that learning experience. Obviously it wasn’t a long time, but it was enough time to see that the players up here are special — and they’re great down there too — so I really have to work hard and I don’t want to be down there again. I believe my abilities can keep me here and I just have use what they teach me here to the greatest of my abilities so I can play well.”
The Bruins need a spark offensively — from Donato or any of their other forwards — yet they’ve been playing fairly well with their patchwork defense. But the shorthanded D took another hit with Miller’s injury.
The veteran exited Monday’s tilt with the Maple Leafs after taking a shot to the throat area. His initial x-rays in a Toronto-area hospital were negative, but Tuesday’s CT scan revealed cartilage damage in the larynx area.
“After the game, we got good news. We didn’t think it was that serious but I guess they looked at it again and obviously found something,” Bruce Cassidy said about Miller. “We were worried about his breathing and swelling. But we thought it if had calmed down he would be ok, but they obviously found something. We’ll miss him. We saw that when he wasn’t in the lineup, we weren’t as gitty of a team or as hard to play against so that’s the part that we really miss.”
Boston’s decimated defense will have to rely more on its young blue-line tandem of Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton, who have both stepped up and played vital minutes in a time of need. That is until Carlo’s return, which could come as early as Thursday’s tilt with the Islanders or Saturday’s Atlantic Division matchup with the Red Wings.
Wednesday marked Carlo’s first team practice since sustaining an upper-body injury. The third-year defenseman skated on his own for a while and feels extremely comfortable on the ice. He is still meeting with team doctors and physicians but believes that he is close to returning.
Carlo’s return is a welcomed sign as Miller, Charlie McAvoy (concussion), Zdeno Chara (knee), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) recover from their respective injuries. Both McAvoy and Vaakanainen resumed skating activities, but neither has been cleared for contact.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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