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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Bruins practiced Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena minus Mark Stuart, Dennis Wideman, and Derek Morris, and the news on two of those defensemen wasn't promising.
Stuart, who has played 196 consecutive regular-season games, is scheduled to miss the next four to six weeks because of a broken sternum suffered in Monday night's game against Philadelphia, and Wideman was not scheduled to leave with the team Wednesday for its three-game road trip because of an undisclosed injury suffered against the Flyers, according to coach Claude Julien.
While Stuart somehow finished the game Monday, Wideman missed the third period. Julien said that Wideman could join the team at some point during the trip and that his injury is not related to the shots he blocked in the first period Monday or the injury that kept him out of practice last week.
The Bruins have been able to strike a solid balance as far as ice-time distribution on their back end this season, with team leader Zdeno Chara logging just 24:17 a game, followed by Morris (22:30) and Wideman (22:27). Boston was able to maintain that even when Wideman was out three games in October, but with two defensemen on the shelf there might be an onus put on Chara and Wideman to get their ice time closer to 30 minutes.
"We've had some balance in the back end and you're able to do that. So now if you need to use those guys a little more, it's not like they've been overutilized since the beginning of the year," Julien noted.
Boston's two call-ups from Providence -- veteran Andy Wozniewski and rookie Adam McQuaid -- joined the club for practice Wednesday and at least one of them (assuming healthy scratch Matt Hunwick doesn't get skipped over for an opportunity) will have to suit up against Chicago Friday night. The 29-year-old Wozniewski has appeared in 77 career NHL games. He brings more of an offensive bent, which he has shown with the P-Bruins by totaling 23 points in 29 games. McQuaid, in his third AHL season, is more of a stay-at-home defender.
After practice Wednesday, assistant coach Craig Ramsay went over the finer points of Boston's systems with both players.
"There are just a couple things defensively to be aware of. Basically, we pressure a lot more in Providence, jumping outside the lines a little bit more," said Wozniewski.
Added McQuaid: "They are fairly similar. Obviously, there are some differences. I was lucky enough to play some games in the exhibition schedule, so I'm familiar with the system from that experience. So I'll go over a little bit of video just to refresh what needs to be done. But for the most part I have a pretty good idea."
Over the past two seasons, Boston has dealt with injuries well by plugging in reinforcements from Providence. However, more often those fill-ins were higher-regarded prospects or players with more impressive AHL pedigrees than the duo that has arrived this time. Boston's road trip, which includes stops in Toronto and Ottawa after a visit to the Windy City, will be one of the stiffest tests of the organization's depth in a while.