MONTREAL — The return of Milan Lucic from a one-game suspension is a welcome one, but also one that has given Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien a difficult decision to make leading up to tonight’s Game 4 of his club’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
With Byron Bitz performing well in Lucic’s slot in the lineup in the Game 3 win that earned the Bruins a 3-0 series lead, Julien has the tough task of scratching a forward tonight that doesn’t deserve to be in the press box.
“I’m going to allow myself today to look at my lineup,” Julien explained this morning after he canceled the club’s morning skate. “Milan will be in the lineup. … But as far as where he goes in …”
Bitz and rookie Blake Wheeler seem like the top candidates to relinquish a spot to Lucic.
•Despite a comfortable 3-0 lead in the series, there shouldn’t be any looking ahead by the Bruins until they’ve put the finishing touches on the Canadiens.
“It’s kind of what we’ve done all year too — just worry about the game at hand,” said Wheeler. “We’ve never let ourselves get ahead of the task at hand. Tonight’s a very important game for us. It doesn’t matter that we’ve won the first three games of the series because all we’re focusing on is win tonight.”
•Defenseman Andrew Ference continued on his road to recovery from an undisclosed injury, as he was the only Bruins player to take the ice. He worked out with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.
•While Ference skated, a handful of Bruins played soccer in the hallway — a ritual usually reserved for about an hour or two before game time. Among those playing were backup goaltender Manny Fernandez and injured winger Marco Sturm.