WILMINGTON — Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was scheduled for an MRI on his lower back Friday, according to coach Claude Julien.
Boychuk was carried off the ice at the Bell Centre in Montreal on a stretcher Thursday night after suffering a frightening injury in the first period of the Bruins’ 2-1 loss to the Canadiens. He was checked awkwardly into the boards by Max Pacioretty, who received a two-minute boarding penalty.
Asked after Friday’s practice about the severity of the injury, Julien said, “We don’t know yet. You’ve got to be very cautious making any comments because you never know when it comes to backs.”
The coach expected to have more details Saturday.
Boychuk remained on his hands and knees on the ice for several minutes until the trainers and medical staff were able to get him strapped onto a stretcher.
“You never like to see a stretcher come out,’’ said Julien. “But I got some information on the bench that his back was locked up and they thought it was part of that.”
Julien also repeated his postgame assessment that the hit was punished appropriately with a two-minute penalty.
“It’s an unfortunate injury,’’ said Julien, “but at the same time, if we’re going to start complaining about every little thing, you might as well take the hitting out of our game. I think more it was the awkwardness of how he went into the boards.’’
Boychuk, who was taken to Montreal General Hospital for observation, was released in time to rejoin his team for the plane trip home.
“It was kind of scary for a little bit,’’ said defenseman Matt Bartkowski. “Then I saw him on the bus and he was just his same old self. He was kind of walking around all hobbled over but he was in good spirits.”
Both Boychuk and Adam McQuaid (lower-body injury) missed practice Friday. When the Bruins host the Eastern Conference leaders, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Saturday, Bartkowski and Kevan Miller will take their places on defense.
Miller, recalled on an emergency basis from Providence Monday, was a healthy scratch Thursday.
“I’ll just be ready to go when the coaches call my number,’’ said Miller, who played three strong games with the Bruins after his first NHL recall Nov. 21 against the Blues.
Julien said the injuries to two of his top six defensemen were just part of hockey.
“That’s why you have a farm team, that’s why you have extra players,’’ he said. “You just go about your business.
“The guys that are replacing our guys are good players and there’s no reason why we should look at it and say we can’t win because of this or because of that. No matter who we have right now, we’re good enough to win.
“We’re certainly not going into this stretch with any reasons to feel sorry for ourselves or any reasons to have excuses.”
Bartkowski said he’ll miss Boychuk’s presence.
“I like his attitude, having him around, especially during a game,’’ Bartkowski said. “He’s positive. He works really, really hard and competes every shift, and then he keeps it light, keeps the mood funny during the game.”
The Bruins’ high-powered practice was preceded by a long session watching video of the loss to Montreal, including a second period that Julien labeled “atrocious and embarrassing.” Chris Kelly said the video was all that and more.
“Probably worse,’’ said Kelly. “It’s such a good learning tool, video. When you’re in the moment, you maybe don’t realize the mistakes that you’re making. You don’t see the game like they see it from behind the bench or up top.
“It’s not always what you want to see but sometimes it’s what you need to see. I thought it was a good video session.”
“It showed us a lot of good things, things we need to work on,’’ said Bartkowski. “It’s always good to see things you can do better and things you do well.”
Julien said he thought the video session was important.
“We talked about the inconsistency of our game,’’ said Julien. “We’ve seen our team play some real solid hockey and we’ve seen our team really struggle at times. Sometimes it’s from one game to another and sometimes it’s from one period to another.
“I think if we can fix that, I think a lot of things will get fixed.”