The timeline was 2-3 weeks. Torey Krug just beat the timeline.
The defenseman returned to the lineup Monday night, 13 days after he sustained a broken finger on a slash by the Wild's Zach Parise Oct. 28. Krug managed to play 21 minutes and 16 seconds, second on the team only to Dougie Hamilton (22:05) in the Bruins' 4-2 victory over the Devils.
"I didn't notice it," Krug said. "It's always a good thing when you're not thinking about it. That was kind of what I was trying to deal with before, and make sure I was comfortable with it, not thinking about my hand. It's good. It felt good out there."
He sent the puck toward the net three times, with one shot on goal, one attempt blocked, and one shot that missed. He added one hit and two blocked shots.
Krug took part in the morning skate, then was supposed to be a game-time decision, though he said the decision was essentially finalized after the morning skate. He felt confident. He wanted back in.
He felt he (and the team) made the right choice.
"Just going back for breakouts, not worrying about getting slashed or falling into the boards or something like that," said Krug, who was paired with Zach Trotman. "That was the main thing I was fighting, just getting comfortable out there.
"The last thing was just making sure I'm not thinking about it. There were times in practice where I'm like protecting myself, making sure it doesn't get hit or something like that. You get into live game action and you can't really think about that because otherwise the puck's going to end up in your net."
Krug said initially he had some challenges shooting the puck from the vibrations of the stick. He said that is no longer an issue.
"[He looked] good for a guy in his first game back," coach Claude Julien said. "He's been out for a while, and I think he had one or maybe two practices with us and that's it. But he came in and did his job. Obviously he's not at 100 percent with his situation, but he seems to be handling the puck well. Again, maybe he didn't get that many shots on net tonight, but I still thought he was a good player."
Krug's return continues to solidify a defense that has played significantly better over the last five games, all wins. It also meant Matt Bartkowski remained in the press box for the fifth straight game as a healthy scratch, with the Bruins choosing to use a player (Krug) not at 100 percent rather than a player (Bartkowski) who is.
"Really good," goaltender Tuukka Rask said of how the team is playing defensively. "We're eliminating chances we want to eliminate, making those little plays around the net and taking their sticks away and stuff. It's been paying off lately. I feel like we're really taking steps in the right direction."
David Krejci missed yet another game because of injury, his third in the Bruins' last four games. The center also missed three games to start the season, after being injured in the preseason finale.
Krejci did not take part in Monday's morning skate.
With Krejci out of the lineup again, Chris Kelly took his spot as the top-line center between Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith.
With the Devils in town, so was Jaromir Jagr, who scored in the second period. Though the likely future Hall of Famer wasn't in Boston for long, he made an impact on the 2012-13 team that nearly won a Stanley Cup, which would have been the third of Jagr's career.
"It's always good memories," Jagr said. "It was short, but they were pretty close."
And though the Bruins have made significant changes since Jagr's departure, he still sees his former team as a championship contender.
"They've still got the guys that can win, starting with the goaltender and the defense, no problem," Jagr said. "[Patrice] Bergeron, that line will shut down everybody. Krech and Looch with the scoring. They shouldn't have a problem."
Kevan Miller took part in morning skate, but he is not yet ready to take contact. Asked about the defenseman's timeline, which is "indefinite," Julien said there was no update. Miller dislocated his shoulder in a fight Oct. 18 in Buffalo . . . Zdeno Chara, who is 2½ weeks out from his knee injury, has yet to start skating . . . The Bruins held Military Appreciation Night.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.