BOSTON – Originally ruled out for this series by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, Mark Stuart now has hope of returning to face to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinal series that continues tonight with Game 2 at TD Garden.
Stuart, who has been out since April 1 with an infection in his finger, took the pregame skate with the team for the first time this morning after spending the last couple days skating with the healthy scratches.
The infection requires daily antibiotic treatment until May 25, which was originally scheduled to continue via PICC Line. That meant having an IV going up his arm to his chest. With the new mini IV pump on his left wrist, he’s able to tape it up and skate with it. He says there are no limitations to what he can do on the ice.
If he played in a game, he would pop it out and play.
“I’m definitely hopeful that I’m going to get back in there,” he said after the skate. “It’s my job to get in shape and the coaches are helping me out with that, obviously. And then it’s up to the coaches to make the decision whether to put me in the lineup. I realize where I’m at right now, it doesn’t matter that I was playing this season, however many games, it’s playoffs and the guys are playing well. You’ve got to earn your spot. And you’ve got to earn your minutes. So the only thing I can do is show them that I’m in shape and that I’m working hard in practice. And then it’s up to them if they want to use me.”
Stuart said he’s mainly just trying to get his legs and conditioning back up where they need to be. He said he doesn’t feel like he fell too far behind even though he wasn’t allowed to sweat for three weeks after the infection was detected. Walking a lot and eating well kept him in decent shape. He hasn’t had any side-effects from the anitbiotics, so he’ll keep plowing ahead in an effort to face the Flyers.
“In order to be effective, I need to play a high-energy game and a physical game,” Stuart said. “And I would need my legs and my lungs to do that. You have to wait until you’re ready enough to help the team because if you go in too soon you might be hurting the team. So it’s just a matter of getting legs.”
Head coach Claude Julien, always cautious on such matters, said he “wouldn’t write that off” in reference to a Stuart return in this series. It seems like very soon, Julien will be able to write the blueliner in.