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Brad Marchand practices, still has ‘boxes to check’ for Bruins before Game 6 return

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON — After taking the first step out of a 3-1 series deficit in the Eastern Conference Second Round, the Boston Bruins could get another boost if captain Brad Marchand returns to the lineup for Game 6 at home against the Florida Panthers on Friday.

Marchand practiced Thursday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury that likely resulted from a hit by Panthers forward Sam Bennett last Friday in Game 3. Marchand left that game early and missed the next two.

“I will say, he looked good, but he’s got boxes to check,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “Day to day. We had the extra day (between games), which is beneficial for all of our players with bumps and bruises that they have. We will know more (Friday).”

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Brad Marchand could return, give Bruins boost in must-win Game 6 against Panthers

Following his first skate back with the team, Marchand expressed his hopes of playing in the must-win game Friday.

“We’ll see how (Friday morning) goes, but hopefully (I’ll play),” Marchand said. “It’s very tough to watch this time of year. It was great to get back out there (at practice) and be around the energy and emotion.”

Marchand also opened up about the apparent punch to the head that he took from Bennett, saying that injuring opposing players is a part of the rigors of playoff hockey.

“The more guys you take out, the more advantage your team has,” he said. “Every time you step on the ice, someone is trying to hurt someone. That’s just how it goes in the playoffs. That’s part of the benefit of having a physical group.”

Bennett, who Marchand described as another “extremely physical player,” was not penalized or given supplemental discipline for the play.

“I think he got away with a shot,” Marchand said.

Not only is Marchand the “heart and soul” of the team, according to Montgomery, and its official leader following the retirement of Patrice Bergeron last offseason, but he has been a producer in these playoffs. Even with missing two games, Marchand had totaled 10 points to tie Jake DeBrusk for the team lead.

Despite being sidelined, Marchand traveled to Florida for Game 5 — which the Bruins won 2-1 Tuesday to avoid elimination — and was present around his teammates, including in the locker room between periods.

He is itching to make a return, especially knowing that teams facing elimination in the second round are 4-0 entering play Thursday night.

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