Reinforcements coming for a Bruins team that battled valiantly

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BRIGHTON – Reinforcements are on the way for the Black and Gold.

It was a little bit of a pre-Christmas miracle to see Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, Jake DeBrusk and Urho Vaakanainen all out on the Warrior Ice Arena ice for Wednesday morning’s practice. For guys like Bergeron, Chara, and Vaakanainen, it’s the first time they’ve been seen on the ice for the Bruins in at least a month while healing from their respective injuries.

So in that sense, it was a morale boost for the rest of the Bruins players to see their comrades-in-arms finally skating and closing in on a return, even if none of them are going to suit up against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.

“It’s nice just that things run a little bit smoother with guys that have been around. The practice habits, the pace of the drills and the mood of the team [gets lifted]. I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Guys know that they’re getting close when they’re with the rest of the group. That’s the biggest noticeable difference with everybody is the jump in the [team’s] step.”

Bergeron might be back as soon as this weekend, and both Chara and Miller could be back next week as the Bruins will finally get something closer to the roster they thought they’d have at the beginning of the season. All the injuries and man games missed due to the physical issues hasn’t really taken a toll on the Bruins, though, even as they missed their best two players, best two leaders and best two defenders in Bergeron and Chara over the last month.

The Bruins are 18-12-4 through 34 games this season, and are comfortably sitting in the top Eastern Conference wild card spot with 40 points on the season. It clearly hasn’t been easy as there have been a slew of one-goal games and the Bruins have needed elite goaltending from Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak in order to make things work.

But the Bruins have put together a solid 8-6-1 record in the 15-game stretch since both Chara and Bergeron went down, and have essentially proven that they are playoff stock even while missing their best players.

“It was nice to have the whole team out there skating. It’s been a long four weeks or so, so I’m very happy to be back out on the ice with the guys,” said Bergeron. “Everybody did their job and did it well. Everybody that came up from Providence did a tremendous job. I thought our young guys got some great experience. I’m thinking of a guy like [Jeremy] Lauzon that just got send down, but had a great experience.

“Everybody that stepped in [for injured players] played great and I think it speaks well for the depth of the organization. We’ve talked about it a lot over the last few years about our young guys stepping up and being impact players. With the number of guys and amount of injuries that we’ve had this season, it’s been great to see them hanging on.”

There’s no question the Bruins have found a way even while relying on players like Lauzon, Connor Clifton, Colby Cave and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson among others, and playing a much simpler game than usual for the B’s. But the healthy bodies are filing back in now for the B’s, and everybody will get to see just how good they can be at full strength.

Clearly, the Bruins still have some high-impact improvements (top-6 goal-scoring winger, everybody?) they’re going to need to make with the roster if they hope to be true Cup contenders. But you’ll pardon the B’s if they save the worry about that for a different day, and instead focus on the energy and morale-boosting sight of the Black and Gold cavalry returning in the next few games just as the Bruins really need them.  

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