Stuart, Boychuk used time to heal

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Every non-Olympian Bruins player benefitted from having the last two weeks off during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

But defensemen Mark Stuart and Johnny Boychuk probably benefitted the most, because had there been NHL games over the last few weeks, neither would have played in them. Stuart had surgery to repair a broken finger Feb. 1 and Boychuk suffered a fractured orbital bone from a slap shot to the face Feb. 6.

Both players practiced with their returning teammates Thursday at Ristuccia Arena and said they’re confident they’ll be available when the Bruins’ regular-season schedule resumes March 2 against Montreal.

“It’s healed up, but now it’s just a matter of loosening the finger up a bit. It’s pretty stiff from being in a cast for three weeks,” said Stuart, who had the cast removed Tuesday.

Stuart maintained his conditioning by skating while injured. In practice Thursday, he got to do some stick handling and said the finger felt better than he thought it would.

Boychuk said that after he was hit in the face, the left side of his head looked like it had a baseball stuck to it. Although he was able to open the eye after the initial blow, he was too sore to open it for about three days after. Now he’ll have a face shield on his helmet for the remainder of the season.

Many people said that Boychuk should feel lucky it wasn’t worse, and he agrees.

“Not the day of or day after or day after that,” he said, referring to the pain. “But I knew I was pretty lucky when I saw the CT scan.”