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Bruins lose Tomas Nosek to broken foot


For the perpetual fretters in the Bruins’ fandom who need to see their 36-5-4 team see a little more adversity to test their mettle, your time has come – but not from the expected source of angst.

While Brandon Carlo seemed no worse for wear after having to leave the game at Madison Square Garden on Thursday after blocking a shot with his right foot, the B’s announced that fourth line center Tomas Nosek suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left foot in the 3-1 win over the Rangers. He will be re-evaluated in four weeks

In a good news/bad news day, let’s take a look at the latter first.

While he does not play as a big a role as Carlo does in the overall scheme – Carlo averages 6:01 more of icetime on the back end – the Nosek injury does represent a loss. He not only anchors a fourth line that has carried it’s share of the load this season, he takes a regular shift on the B’s league-leading penalty kill and has a 58.3% success rate on the dot..

Now, in the immediate future at least, those responsibilities will fall to 6-foot-5 Joona Koppanen, who has played two NHL games over the past couple of weeks as Nosek battled an upper body injury.

While Koppanen has shown a strength on draws (he’s won 10 of 16 so far) and the PK, coach Jim Montgomery said Koppanen’s short NHL resume has been something of a mixed bag.

“I thought his first game (against Seattle) was better than his his second (against the Islanders),” said Montgomery after Saturday’s practice. “I thought his second, there were things that happened in the game where he’s going to learn to get better from. It’s the NHL. You’re going to sometimes be in situations where (you learn) ‘Next time I’m going to be more aggressive” or “Next time I’m going to do this.” But he didn’t hurt us at all. He helped us win that game. And then I think today in practice is the best I’ve seen him look. The more you’re in the NHL, the more you get acclimated and lose the nerves and you start being yourself. He practiced really well today.”

Montgomery said that the team will bring up another forward for the upcoming five-game road trip after Sunday’s match against the San Jose Sharks, though he didn’t specify whether it would be a center or wing. It is going to be a challenging trip to Montreal, Tampa Bay, Sunrise, Carolina and Toronto that will not only provide Koppanen a chance to prove himself, but for the B’s coaching and management it is an opportunity to better evaluate the 2016 fifth round pick.

“Its good for him and good for us to know if we have a guy who can do this daily and add to our playoff depth. We’re looking at that for this year and looking down the road for next year,” said Montgomery.

As for Carlo, he appears good to go for Sunday’s game against the Sharks but that final decision will be made on Sunday. Montgomery said that issue appeared to be nerve-related as opposed to pertaining to a bone. Prior to practice on Saturday, Carlo tested it out and went back to the room a couple of times before returning to participate fully in the session, skating on his regular pairing with Hampus Lindholm and then jumping in on the PK with Derek Forbort.

While the B’s position in the standings suggest this might be an ideal time to give Carlo a rest and provide some minutes for Jakub Zboril, that’s not quite how hockey players operate.

“I said, ‘If it doesn’t feel good, don’t worry about it. It’s going to be fine by Tuesday.’ And he was like ‘Well, I don’t want to miss a game,’” said Montgomery. “That’s just the way hockey players are wired. We’re fortunate that way. With (Patrice Bergeron), if he wasn’t fine, we’re going to take him out of the lineup on Thursday. But he was like ‘I’m fine, I’m not wearing a bubble. I’m playing.’ That was the end of the conversation.”

Montgomery, who has been liberal in cutting back practice time, said there will come a time later this season when he’ll have to take that decision out of his players’ hands as they gear up for the post-season.

“When we think the benefit is that they’re going to be better in the playoffs,” he said. “If we think they’re going to be more rested, we’re going to sit guys in back-to-backs. Now we don’t have the option of sitting a lot of guys, but if we can throw in a rotation, every bit helps. I think the players have appreciated the days off that we’ve had this year. I know David Krejci, in my office one time said ‘I don’t know if I’d have the ability to play as many games this year if haven’t had as much time off.’ It let’s the players regenerate, it lets them get the treatment they get without the added abuse to (the body). Over time, your body just doesn’t recover like it used to.”

Meanwhile, Zboril appears to be destined for the press box once again. He has played just 6:47 since coming out of the lineup after he had a costly turnover in a November 23 loss in Florida. Montgomery acknowledged the situation is a difficult one for Zboril, though the coach believes he’s learned to deal with it better.

“It is really hard. We’re aware of that and we share that with him,” said Montgomery. “And for him, there’s been a noticeable change in his attitude. It was hard for maybe the first month or three weeks to get up for practice, to have a smile on and have an infectious attitude around your teammates. Because that’s part of the equation when you’re not playing. Ever since then, I’d say a week before Christmas, he’s had a great attitude. He comes to the rink with a smile on his face, he’s been a great teammates for everybody.”





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