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Monday, January 25, 2010
Julien puts struggling B's through tough practice

By Matt Kalman

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins center Marc Savard and forward Byron Bitz were back in Boston and had nothing to do with the team's disastrous visit to Raleigh Sunday.

That didn't excuse them from taking part in a hard-working 75-minute practice at Ristuccia Arena on Monday, as the Bruins tried to exorcise their demons after the 5-1 debacle extended their losing streak to five games.

"It seems like when it rains it pours ... but that's what it seems is happening right now," said Savard about watching his teammates struggle. "Maybe we've just got to get the first goal of the game to get going now. We've got a good week of preparation here. It was a tough day today, but at the same time we got a lot of out of it."

After the requisite odd-man rush drills and battle drills, the team skated some laps in 10-second intervals for three minutes Monday.


"It's not really a punishment, it's more we need to work our way out of this and today was an important day for us to start that," said head coach Claude Julien.

The Bruins aren't scheduled to play again until Friday night in Buffalo, where Savard hopes he'll get back into the lineup for the first time since Jan. 7, when he suffered a slight MCL tear in his knee.

"I felt great," said Savard about Monday's practice. "It was long, so that was a good test for it. I got a little tired toward the end, but I felt strong."

"I felt good skating, my hands felt good," he continued, "and hopefully this time around I can be more of a presence when I get back, too."

Savard's current injury absence is his second of the year. When he got back into action after missing 15 games with a broken foot, he sputtered a bit offensively.

"I think this time around I'll be a little bit more prepared than last time. Last time I worked hard when I was off but it'd been a long time since I was off like that," he said. "I didn't know what to expect. I thought I was going to come back in and contribute the first game, maybe put a little too much pressure on myself."

With less fanfare than the Bruins' No. 1 center is receiving, Bitz is also hoping to be back healthy for Friday night's game. He has missed the last four games with an undisclosed injury. He skated for the first time since leaving the lineup before Saturday's game for 30 minutes. He upped that to 45 Sunday and made it through the entire practice Monday.

As for the rest of the Bruins' wounded warriors, winger Marco Sturm said he's feeling better and should be back skating at some point this week. Sturm confirmed to ESPNBoston.com that he did not suffer a setback with his leg injury before leaving last Wednesday's practice early. Sturm hasn't skated since and has missed the last five Bruins games.

Steve Begin, out the last four games with an undisclosed injury, remains day-to-day and could skate at some point this week, according to head coach Claude Julien.