Blue Jackets Sean Kuraly return to play Boston Bruins

BOSTON — Sean Kuraly didn’t know how to get into the building.

The striker decided to walk to the TD Garden on Saturday morning for the Blue Jackets’ pre-game practice, but when he arrived at the arena he realized he didn’t know which input to use.

After spending his first five professional seasons with the Boston organization and the last four seasons exclusively with the Bruins, Kuraly knew his way to the home locker room. But when he entered the building as a visitor for the first time, it took him a while to find the right route.

“I didn’t want to come in like you would as a home player here, so it was a bit difficult to come in as a visitor,” Kuraly said. “It was just difficult. I couldn’t find the right path. I didn’t want to end up in the B dressing room.”

Kuraly signed with his hometown team Columbus as a free agent in July. He’s been a natural fit for the Jackets since his arrival and has had his most productive NHL season to date, posting a career-high 11 goals and 24 points in 68 games so far.

He has been open about how happy he’s been in Columbus since the moment he signed and admitted on Saturday morning that it’s been a weird feeling to be back in Boston – especially to be in the visitors’ locker room, which he had never entered before about two o’clock. before skating on Saturday morning.

“I have a lot of great memories on that ice, with some of the teammates still there,” Kuraly said. “I really enjoyed this city. It was nice to have a day (Friday) to kind of spend it in the city. Great memories.”

Kuraly referenced his excitement for the game several times on Saturday morning, although that excitement doesn’t come without nerves.

“I’m excited for this,” Kuraly said. “Keeping in mind that those are two points that we’re trying to get. There’s work to be done, but realizing that it’s there to be enjoyed. … There’s always a bit of a nerve. I think that I’d be worried about myself if I didn’t have nerves. But that drives me to my energy and playing with the rhythm and stuff, so I think that’s okay.

Kuraly’s energy and pace are the calling cards of his game, and associate coach Pascal Vincent, who is acting as head coach while Brad Larsen and assistant Steve McCarthy are in COVID- 19, expects Kuraly to feed off the energy on Saturday night even more than he normally does.

“The first time you play in this building against a team you’ve been playing for for years, there’s excitement,” Vincent said. “I want him to feel like that, to feel excited to play against them. But he has to stay true to what he does. You don’t want your players trying to do too much or trying to make a point. He’s having a good season. We want him to keep playing the way he has but use the energy in a positive way.”

Kuraly plans to do just that.

“With me most of the time it’s about calling back and making sure I play by the rules of the game,” Kuraly said. “Making sure I’m not trying to do too much. Stick to my game. Do what I can do and stop trying to do it. That will be my goal tonight.

Bruins to honor Nick Foligno for 1,000 career games

Former Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno played his 1,000th career game on March 15 and chose to wait out the traditional ceremony that commemorates the event until Columbus comes to town. On Saturday night, Foligno will be honored for his achievement, as he faced the side he spent nine seasons with, including six as captain.

Foligno missed Boston’s game against New Jersey on Thursday with a lower-body injury, but skated in line before Saturday’s game, indicating he will return to the lineup.

New England native Gavin Bayreuther returns to Blue Jackets roster

The only roster change Vincent made before Saturday’s game was replacing defenseman Gavin Bayreuther with Gabriel Carlsson. Bayreuther last played March 13 against Vegas, and he’s from Concord, NH, just over an hour from Boston.

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