WILMINGTON, Mass. — A center for most of his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, Bruins forward Blake Wheeler might get his first dose of playing that position in the NHL this week now that David Krejci is out with a moderate concussion.
Today at practice, Wheeler centered a line with Mark Recchi and Jordan Caron on his wings. And after the hour filled with drills, Wheeler practiced faceoffs like every centerman does. This season, Wheeler is 2-for-3 at the faceoff dot.
Wheeler has played almost exclusively on the wing since joining Boston in 2007. He skated some at center this fall in the preseason.
Here’s what Wheeler had to say after practice:
If Wheeler has any questions of how to handle the pair of Recchi and Caron, he can lean on that line’s former center Patrice Bergeron. In Krejci’s absence, Bergeron centered Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic today.
“Just play the same way he’s been playing; I think he’s been playing great,” said Bergeron about Wheeler. “He’s had a lot of speed and he’s been using his body a lot more. He’s played center before, so I’ve talked to him and he says he feels pretty comfortable in the middle. So I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue there.”
If the lines from today take the ice against Pittsburgh Wednesday, they’ll face a tall task at the faceoff dots. The Penguins are 10th in the league in faceoff percentage, led by 14th-ranked Sidney Crosby.
“We’re going to have to talk about it. I think, with the other guys, we’re going to talk more about [Pittsburgh’s] tendencies more than anything else,” said Bergeron. “Maybe he has some things that he’s more comfortable doing. I’m not going to try to try to change that.”