Dennis Seidenberg didn’t play Monday because of a lower-body injury. The defenseman played a team-high 23:59 in Saturday’s season opener against the Rangers. He also practiced Sunday at TD Garden without limitations.
Coach Claude Julien was hopeful Seidenberg would practice Tuesday and play against the Rangers in New York Wednesday.
“Very, very hopeful he’ll be in next game,” Julien said. “This is a situation where early in the season, you want to sacrifice one game so that it won’t become a two-week situation. We’re just getting going here. It’s such a condensed schedule that if you take those chances, you’ll make it worse than better.”
Aaron Johnson made his Bruins debut in place of Seidenberg. The Bruins recalled Johnson from Providence Sunday. Johnson had been in Providence for two games on a conditioning loan. The ex-Columbus defenseman recorded one assist in two AHL games.
Johnson was told Sunday that he might be playing against Winnipeg. The coaches confirmed the decision Monday morning.
Johnson played mostly with Johnny Boychuk on the second pairing. Johnson, wearing No. 45, had one shot, one hit, and two blocked shots in 16:03 of ice time.
“It’s a little more structured,” Johnson said of the Bruins’ collapsing-zone system. “There’s a lot of letting the forwards take the man, and just coming to the middle. It’s fun to be a part of. It’s a little different for me. But I think I’m getting used to it.”
Because of Seidenberg’s absence, the Bruins shuffled two of their top three defensive pairings. Dougie Hamilton, who had been paired with Seidenberg, skated with Zdeno Chara. The pair skated most of its shifts against Winnipeg’s top line.
Seidenberg played in 80 games in 2011-12.
Top line, top billing
The power line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton didn’t score against the Jets. But Monday’s win confirmed that through two games, Krejci’s line has been the best of the Bruins’ four forward units.
For the second straight game, both big wings played straight-line hockey and punished their opponents. Lucic led all players with 10 hits. Lucic’s biggest lick came against Andrew Ladd, when he mashed the Winnipeg captain into the wall.
Horton added three hits and three shots. Horton’s best scoring chance was in the second period, when Ondrej Pavelec turned back a short-range wrister.
Because Lucic and Horton are skating and hitting, they are creating turnovers and opening up scoring chances. The Bruins were worried that their time off during the lockout would have deadened their legs. But Lucic and Horton have been among the team’s most dedicated north-south skaters.
“At the start, they were maybe a question mark because of the situation — one being out for the whole year, the other one not having played,” Julien said. “They’re big bodies. It can take a little bit longer to get yourself going. But that line has been really good. David’s done a great job in the middle. Those other two guys are using their speed and strength. They’re making things happen. I like their play. I think they’re very focused right now and bringing something positive to the hockey club. They’re making it happen.”
Up to the task
Tuukka Rask has given up two goals in his first two wins. Rask most likely will make his third straight start Wednesday against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Anton Khudobin might have to wait until one of the back-to-back games against Carolina and New Jersey later this month for his first start. “That becomes his responsibility vs. ours,” Julien said of Khudobin staying sharp. “We’ve got to do what’s best for the team. They have to adjust to what their roles are and what they need to do. That’s why he’s worked a lot after practice and done a lot to stay sharp. Because when we put him in, we expect him to be good.” . . . NESN reported a 9.4 rating, its highest-ever for a regular-season game, in Saturday’s opener against the Rangers. The previous highest was an 8.9 rating Jan. 7, 2012, for the Bruins’ rematch against Vancouver . . . Chris Bourque was the No. 3 gunner in the shootout after Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron scored on Pavelec. The Winnipeg goalie stopped Bourque’s forehand shot . . . Winnipeg started with a No. 1 line of Ladd, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler. Halfway through the game, coach Claude Noel replaced Little with Nik Antropov to shake up the line. “There was nothing happening with him, Wheeler, or Ladd,” Noel said of Little. “You had to really work to find anything happening. There were some turnovers from that line. It was a tough night.” . . . The Bruins went 0 for 2 on the power play. They are 0 for 9 to start the season. With Seidenberg out, Rich Peverley manned the point on the No. 2 unit alongside Hamilton. Peverley hammered the post with a point shot in the third period . . . Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman dropped the ceremonial first puck. The Needham native and her family visited the Bruins in the dressing room after Saturday’s game.