WILMINGTON — Before his second practice with his new team concluded on Wednesday, Brett Connolly took a puck off the right hand. The damage it did may keep a third practice from taking place this year.
Connolly is out six weeks because of a displaced fracture in his right index finger. The Bruins end the regular season April 11 against the Lightning, Connolly’s former team.
The eighth-place Bruins are two points ahead of Florida. The Panthers are without goalies Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya, who were injured Tuesday. Florida has recalled Dan Ellis from the AHL and Sam Brittain from the ECHL.
The shot struck Connolly near the end of Wednesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. Connolly removed his glove and left the ice, where he was met by trainer Don DelNegro. Connolly didn’t return.
The 22-year-old was set to debut Thursday against Calgary at TD Garden. Connolly practiced as the third-line right wing Wednesday next to Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. He also took reps on the No. 2 power-play unit, mostly working along the left-side half-wall. He skated on the fourth line on Tuesday during his first practice with his new team.
The Bruins had high expectations for Connolly (12 goals, three assists in 50 games) after acquiring him from Tampa Bay on Monday for second-round picks in 2015 and 2016. They projected the shoot-first wing to support their offense (2.63 goals per game, No. 20 in the league) and push for ice time among their top-six lineup.
In Tampa, Connolly was averaging 7.45 shots on goal per 60 minutes of play, which would have been the fifth-highest rate on the Bruins after Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Torey Krug. He’d buried 16.2 percent of his shots, the best shooting percentage of his four-year professional career. The Bruins were planning on giving him more action than the 11:55 of ice time he was averaging with the Lightning. He was most recently on Tampa’s third line with Cedric Paquette and Valtteri Filppula.
Connolly’s injury will most likely move Eriksson back to Soderberg’s right side. Daniel Paille, who practiced on the fourth line, should be the No. 3 left wing, his position for the last three games.
The injury also locks Pastrnak into a top-two role on the right side. The Bruins acquired Connolly partly because they were concerned about the 18-year-old’s inexperience. Pastrnak will have to learn on the job while skating with Milan Lucic and Ryan Spooner.
The Bruins are now down two offensive players in Connolly and David Krejci. They do not have any spare forwards.
Gregory Campbell practiced for the second straight day, but he is considered doubtful for Thursday because of an upper-body injury. Arizona claimed Craig Cunningham on waivers on Monday. The Bruins are not carrying an extra defenseman. Adam McQuaid practiced on Wednesday after staying off the ice the previous day.
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Max Talbot has fought Campbell twice. In the AHL, Talbot squared off with Chris Kelly. Throughout his NHL career, the ex-Avalanche has traded shots with Marchand, which does not make him unique, given that Talbot wears skates and plays hockey for a living.
“I’ve got a couple battles with Marchand,” Talbot said. “Who hasn’t, though?”
Talbot, acquired from Colorado on Monday along with former Boston College forward Paul Carey for Jordan Caron and a 2016 sixth-round pick, practiced with his new team for the first time on Wednesday. Talbot was one of four forwards on the fourth line alongside Paille, Kelly, and Brian Ferlin. Talbot will make his Black-and-Gold debut Thursday as the No. 4 left wing. He will also kill penalties.
“He’s a lot like a Johnny Boychuk-type in the dressing room,” said coach Claude Julien. “He likes to have fun. He’ll keep things loose. At the same time, when it’s time to play, he’s all business. He comes to play. He’ll do whatever he has to do to fulfill his role. He’s definitely a good addition to have with us, without a doubt. Veteran leadership you look for in the stretch is often overlooked. He’ll fill that gap very well.”
Talbot’s history of altercations with former opponents underscores how his playing style leads to conflict. The 31-year-old left-shot forward likes to get under other players’ skin via punishing checks, slashes in tender areas, and a mouth that won’t close. Players do not enjoy playing against Talbot. In turn, Talbot takes pleasure out of his identity as a hated opponent but a welcome foxhole presence.
“I take pride in that — being a good teammate,” Talbot said. “Going through experiences with Pitt, Philly, and now the Avalanche, I take it as a compliment.”
Talbot’s arrival continues a fourth-line makeover that started with Shawn Thornton’s offseason departure. Talbot is a smaller but quicker player than Caron, the former fourth-line left wing. Talbot also can kill penalties, take faceoffs, and play on the right side.
Follow Fluto Shinzawa on Twitter @GlobeFluto.