ANAHEIM, Calif. - There is no plan for injured winger Nathan Horton to pull on a Bruins uniform in the immediate future, but the team Sunday night welcomed another of its key offensive performers, right winger Rich Peverley, back to the front lines. Peverley, out of the lineup since wrenching a knee Feb. 15, returned in Boston’s 3-2 win over Anaheim after being out 19 games.
“I’ve never been through anything like this,’’ Peverley said outside the dressing room about 90 minutes before puck drop against the Ducks. “I had to preach patience to myself.’’
With Peverley back in uniform, coach Claude Julien gave Daniel Paille, a fixture on the Greg Campbell-Shawn Thornton checking line, the night off. Jordan Caron, the first-line right winger of late, moved down to Paille’s spot on the energy line.
Peverley made his return on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and he squeezed off Boston’s first shot, a quick snap from the slot at 3:26 that Bergeron set up with some good hustle on the back wall. With Peverley on that line, Julien moved Tyler Seguin up in the order, placing him on the right side of the Milan Lucic-David Krejci combination.
Only the Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Brian Rolston trio remained the same.
Peverley played 16:44 against the Ducks, getting off two shots, and was a plus-1. He admitted to feeling some fatigue after his first game back, but was generally encouraged by his outing, despite feeling that he too often bobbled the puck or didn’t get off the shots he wanted.
“You can’t mimic battling in the corners when you are just practicing,’’ Peverley said. “And I was losing my wind a little in there sometimes. But it was good to get my game going again.’’
Horton, recovering from concussion-related symptoms since getting belted by the Flyers’ Tom Sestito, did not accompany the Bruins on their three-game Western swing that culminated here. He has been following a dry-land workout routine, but no word yet on when he might resume skating. It appears doubtful he will be ready in time to start the playoffs.
The Bruins will have a new defenseman in their ranks Tuesday, after general manager Peter Chiarelli signed Michigan State backliner Torey Krug to a three-year entry-level contract over the weekend. Krug, a junior in East Lansing, will report directly to Boston, the Bruins willing to burn a year of his contact as an enticement to get the free agent to sign.
“We broke the year as part of the negotiation,’’ said Chiarelli, according to a release issued by the club. As to whether Krug will play with the varsity, Chiarelli added, “I believe he might get the chance.’’
It’s far more likely that Krug, only 5 feet 9 inches, only will be with the varsity as a watch-and-learn experience. He is a puck-moving defenseman, one who really likes to join the offense, but he’s not likely to be tossed into the deep end of the pool, unless the Bruins have their playoff position tied down with games still remaining on the regular-season schedule.
Krug, a captain for two years at Michigan State, was never drafted, leaving him a free agent with a number of NHL teams interested in signing him. However, it is very difficult for small players to make it at the NHL level, especially on the back line, where size is an asset when trying to move forwards out from around the crease.
But small back liners can make it. To wit: Reijo Ruotsalainen, Greg Hawgood, and more recently Brian Rafalski.
“He’s not a big player,’’ Chiarelli said of Krug, “but he’s got a lot of heart.’’
One step closer
Quebec City lost its NHL team, the beloved Nordiques, in the summer of 1995, and the then-9-year-old Bergeron was crushed.
“Oh, yeah, of course I was,’’ recalled the veteran center, who grew up in Quebec City, rooting for and modeling his game after his favorite Nordiques, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. “For me, it was such a big thing for us to be able to go to one or two NHL games a year. My brother and I would get tickets for our birthday, or as a Christmas gift. Tickets were really hard to get. As a kid growing up there, I mean, they were it.’’
Bergeron and his brother, who chatted by text Sunday, were both smiling over the news announced earlier in the day that Quebec City will build a state-of-the art arena, replacing the dilapidated Le Colisee, with the hope of once again having an NHL team in town. The cost, some $400 million, will be funded by a combination of taxes and private money.
The NHL currently has no plans to expand beyond its Original 30, and though speculation abounds that either the Islanders or Coyotes could be packing up for new environs, they remain doing business in their current buildings with no plans to move in the near future. In the case of the Islanders, it’s possible they would move to a new arena in Brooklyn before moving out of the New York market.
“It sounds like it will be great for Quebec City,’’ said Bergeron, referring solely to the plan to build the new arena. “It’s going to take some time, obviously. I think they said it will be three years. But this is one step closer to that first shovel of dirt.’’
A lot at the dot
Both Bergeron and Krejci won an impressive 63 percent of their faceoffs, a strong turnaround for Krejci, who lost nine of 11 in the Bruins’ 4-2 win Saturday night in Los Angeles. Krejci went 10 for 16 against the Ducks and Bergeron 17 for 27 . . . The Bruins were outshot in all three games in California, including by a 27-25 margin by the Ducks . . . Rolston, Kelly, and Pouliot all finished with two points apiece. They have carried the offense the last two weeks . . . Greg Zanon led the Bruins with six hits, matched by Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly . . . Hall of Famer-to-be Teemu Selanne, who will be 42 in July, entered the game leading the Ducks with 62 points, and he scored a goal in the second period for his 24th of the season. The Finnish Flash, who scored 76 goals as a rookie in 1992-93, hasn’t decided if he’ll play another season. Selanne’s career line: 1,335 games, 661 goals, 1,403 points . . . The Bruins went 0 for 2 on the power play against the Ducks, after going 0 for 1 on the man-advantage in Los Angeles, leaving them without a goal on the man-advantage in 10 of their last 12 games. They are 3 for 23 on the power play since March 3, averaging fewer than two power plays per game in that stretch of 12 matches. Their opponents had gone on the power play 34 times in that same stretch . . . The Bruins have scored first in four of their last five games and enjoyed substantial lead time in those games (all wins) . . . Hartford-born Nick Bonino, ex- of Avon Old Farms and Boston University, was 1-3-4 in his previous two games for the Ducks, but was scoreless Sunday . . . Bergeron’s strike in LA, a shorty, was his first goal since Feb. 25 . . . The Bruins were scheduled to fly home Monday but not practice upon arrival. They planned to report to TD Garden Tuesday morning and prepare for that night’s game vs. the Bolts.