Bruins notes: Chara not at practice

BOSTON -- Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was missing from practice this morning at TD Garden, after leaving the bench twice to go to the locker room during the Bruins’s 4-3 shootout loss to visiting Toronto last night.

Head coach Claude Julien had no update on Chara following practice, but said he gave the captain “the day off” and that “he’ll be in tomorrow”, when the Bruins host Atlanta at 1 p.m. to try and wrap up the Northeast Division title.

Chara missed the final two minutes of the second period last night, and was not on the bench for the start of the third. He eventually returned a few minutes into the period, and played the rest of the game. Julien told reporters following the loss that Chara was fine, saying “There’s nothing to report. Nothing to be concerned about as far as his situation.”

Hnidy to debut?

With Chara out, veteran defenseman Shane Hnidy filled in on the third defensive pairing. Signed on Feb. 26 to a one-year free agent contract, Saturday afternoon could be the day that Hnidy makes his return to the ice in the spoked-B sweater.

“The final decision hasn’t been made, but there’s a good chance you’ll see Nides in,” Julien said of Hnidy, who last spent the 08-09 and part of the 07-08 season with the Bruins. “We’ll make that decision before the end of the day.”

Hindy talked about what a joy it is “just to be back”, after being away from the game and questioning his future in the NHL. Should he get the call tomorrow, it would be his first regular season action since his stint with Minneosta last season. He did not get any offers after getting cut by Phoenix in training camp last fall, until getting signed in February to the Bruins.

“I knew what was going to be going on coming in,” Hnidy said. “And I knew it was going to be a waiting period and a matter of me working towards getting ready, and we’re at that point. It’s up to the coach, whether the time feels right to put me in that situation.”

Thornton still 'day-to-day'

The swelling on the gash above forward Shawn Thornton’s right eye appeared to have gone down, when he greeted reporters at his locker Friday. He donned his usual maroon sweater with the four-man fourth line today with Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Michael Ryder, but remains “day to day” according to Julien.

“I haven’t gotten the clearance, I guess, from the medical staff, that he’s good to go,” Julien said. “And obviously, the swelling’s gone down a little bit, so there’s a little bit caution there. You’ve got to be cautious in that situation. Our trainers are looking at it that way. So hopefully he’ll be ready to go soon, but tomorrow’s still a question mark.”

The cut, suffered in the Bruins’ win over Chicago Wednesday night after he made contact with Fernando Pisani’s skate, took 40 stitches to close up. The timing, meanwhile, wasn’t spectacular, as team photos were taken this morning before the start of practice. “We’re fortunate that they took one earlier in the year, so I’m sure they’ll superimpose my head from earlier in the season, I hope anyways,” Thornton cracked.

As for the visor he’s sporting now on his helmet, that’s something he says will “always be weird, I guess.”

“You kinda get used to it, it’s not as annoying,” he said. “But still, I spent a long time without one, so ... it takes a little adjusting.”

Reunions abound

This marks the two teams’ first meeting since the Bruins sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to the Thrashers in exchange for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik on February 18. For players like David Krejci, a former linemate and good friend of Wheeler’s, it should be a happy reunion.

“He was one of my closest friends on the team these last few years,” Krejci said of Wheeler, who has 13 points in the 18 games since he was traded. “We’ll get a chance to get dinner or something ... I’ve talked to him, he’s been playing first line, power play, P.K., so he’s definitely making the most of it and having fun. That’s what he told me. He’s putting up the points, and scoring the goals, so it’s good to see him do that.”

Reflecting on the trade, Peverley admitted he was “a little surprised” at the time of the deal.

“I signed a two-year deal, not expecting to get dealt in the first year of it,” said Peverley, who skated today on the third line with Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. “Things happen, things change, but you know I’ve been really happy so far [here].”