Lucic back at practice; seven missing

WILMINGTON, Mass. – The Bruins gained one, but lost seven for Tuesday morning’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.

A sizeable school vacation week crowd saw Milan Lucic return to the ice, after missing the Bruins’ Sunday game in Winnipeg for a personal matter. There was plenty of available ice, however, as seven players were held out with flu-like symptoms.

The team announced shortly before the 10:30 a.m. practice that Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Adam McQuaid and Daniel Paille were held out. Also not participating in practice was goaltender Anton Khudobin, evidenced by a stack of pads in front of the net opposing the B’s lone healthy goaltender, Tuukka Rask.

Head coach Claude Julien mentioned that the flu bug is a perennial bout for NHL clubs this time of year, but he was hard pressed to recall a time when his team had seen such a number affected all at once.

“You have to figure out things that would benefit our group,” Julien said. “We put those drills together and made the best of it.”

Lucic returned and seemed to be in good spirits while meeting with reporters. While he didn’t expressly say the cause for his absence, the first-time father (whose daughter, Valentina, was born Jan. 17) also had health concerns on his mind.

“It was a long last three, couple of days, flying to Winnipeg and flying all the way back as soon as I got out there. But, like I said, everyone is happy and healthy, and that’s the main thing.”

Julien said the team didn’t anticipate making any emergency recalls to spell the M.A.S.H. unit, but would reevaluate the group’s condition tomorrow before heading to Tampa Bay for Thursday’s game.

“We’re hoping that it’s a short-term thing, which it seems to be,” he added. “But if that’s the case then we’ll have to deal with that probably tomorrow, if that’s the case.”

For now, the best thing that might help aid a speedy recovery is the promise of warmer climes with the B’s next two games coming in the Sunshine State.

“After I think what we’ve all been through these last two weeks with the snowstorm and it being pretty cold around the last week or so,” Lucic said, “it’ll be kinda nice to get some warm weather.”