A mystery ailment has left David Krejci hurt enough to miss five straight games, including Wednesday’s post-break resumption against Ottawa. The Bruins center said it is not related to the injury that shelved him for 11 games in October and November.
In turn, Krejci insisted his previous boo-boo was not with his back, even though coach Bruce Cassidy said it was the area in which his center absorbed a cross-check against Vancouver Oct. 19.
“Different injury,” said Krejci, who is on injured reserve. “It’s not my back. I haven’t hurt my back all season.”
Krejci said he was hurt late in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers Dec. 16. Two days later, he participated in the morning skate, but was considered not fit to play against the Blue Jackets that night.
As hush-hush as Krejci and his employer have been about his condition, there is no secret about how his absence has left the Bruins shorthanded. Ryan Spooner has served as Krejci’s latest fill-in between Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. But Spooner is no Krejci. At the same time, Bjork is trying to find traction amid his first professional valley.
So the line that is unquestionably the team’s second-best threesome when Krejci is healthy is now serving as the No. 3 group, ceding some of the tougher shifts to Danton Heinen, Riley Nash, and David Backes.
It speaks to the strength of the rest of the roster that the Bruins have rolled off four straight wins with Krejci in the press box.
The center’s suit-and-tie status could be subject to change. He was due to visit doctors Wednesday afternoon, and he will travel to Washington and Ottawa for the upcoming two-game road trip.
Krejci participated in Wednesday’s morning skate wearing a noncontact jersey. Perhaps when he is cleared for bumps, Krejci will not need long to consider himself ready for game duty.
“I feel pretty good,” said Krejci. “It was a good day. Hopefully, pretty soon.”
“He’s traveling. Adam’s healthy,” said Cassidy. “We’re just deciding tonight to go with the lineup we’ve had.”
McQuaid practiced on an extra pairing with Paul Postma.
“I thought it was good timing for us,” Cassidy said. “We had some guys under the weather. You’re playing well, you always want to keep at it. So I don’t think it was that long.
“We’ve got three [games] in four days, so we’ll get right back in the swing of it. Everyone enjoys a little time off for the holidays. But now it’s time to get back at it.”
Their three-in-four reintroduction represents the first half of a seven-game segment. Following back-to-back games against Carolina and Pittsburgh Jan. 6-7, it will be the Bruins’ turn to enjoy their five-day break, granted to every club at different times in the season. After the pause, the Bruins will play seven games in 13 days before taking another breather, this time for the All-Star break.
“We’re off three days, now we play a bunch, then we’re off 4-5 days to recharge, then you’ve got the All-Star break,” Cassidy said. “So over the next six weeks, we’ve got three breaks.
“I think we should be able to come through that better with the younger guys, the hump they have to get over, and even the veteran guys that play a lot. It’s good in that regard. We shouldn’t have too much of a dropoff.”
Noel Acciari needed time to recover after Fredrik Claesson clocked the right wing in the head with an open-ice hit at 15:01 of the first period of the Bruins’ 5-1 win Wednesday night. Acciari did not return for the rest of the first. But he came back in the second, playing a total of 12:12.
Tim Schaller, meanwhile, was limited to 8:16 of ice time because of the 17 penalty minutes he totaled (instigating, fighting, 10-minute misconduct) for challenging Claesson. Schaller got the better of the Ottawa defenseman, who racked up 25 PIMs (fighting, match penalty, game misconduct) and could be subject to supplemental discipline.
“That was a head shot,” Cassidy said. “I’m not going to comment on the intention or not. I just know it was a high shot. Noel will go to bat for anybody on this team, so it’s good to see Timmy do it. It’s well-received in the room. People will have different opinions on, ‘Hey, clean checks in hockey, you should be able to take a number.’ I don’t disagree with that. But I think that was a high hit, and Timmy reacted accordingly.”
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.