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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Julien wants Bruins to raise intensity

NEWARK, N.J. -- Boston coach Claude Julien sat his team down Wednesday afternoon and went over some game film in great detail. The point he was trying to get across was simple.
 
"It was about finding our game again," Julien said Thursday morning from Prudential Center. "I think our level of play has dropped off and we just have to pick that up again. It's pretty obvious when you look back maybe a few weeks ago, just before Christmas, how we were playing and the inconsistency in our game since then. We're certainly trying to find that game we had going there for a while, and right now it's dropped off."
 
The Bruins are 6-4-0 in their past 10 games. It's a record most teams would accept, especially in the dog days of the season, after the holiday break and before the All-Star break.
 
"We're still above .500, but for us it's not good enough," Julien said.
 
He wants to see his team increase its battle level. He wants to see his team work just a little bit harder. He wants them to cut down on the goals against (11 in the last three games), and believes it can happen if they simply pick it up a notch.
 
"I'm avoiding using the word slump. It's not a slump. It's a dip in our play and we just have to pick it up," Julien said. "If we pick it up, we're going to be fine. But, what you learn to do is not panic. You want to push your players to battle through it, and as a coach when you've been around a team long enough, you'd like to think you know the right buttons to push."
 
Getting Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley, two energy and speed guys, back in the lineup for Thursday's game should help. However, Julien and the Bruins feel it's about more than just those two players; it's about matching the intensity that teams are bringing toward them on a nightly basis.
 
It hasn't happened enough for Julien's liking.
 
"We knew that from the start of the season that teams would be gunning for us. It's something that happens, a natural thing that happens with teams that have won a Cup," Julien said. "We responded well, we were playing some really solid hockey for a while, and there were a lot of games that we kind of ran away with. Teams all have pride and they all seek some sort of revenge."
 
For example, the Devils will be looking for revenge Thursday night after the Bruins came in here and thumped them, 6-1, on Jan. 4.
 
"When you come in here and beat the Devils 6-1, it's not something you see very often in this building, so we know they're going to be ready for us," Julien said. "We know revenge is on their mind and that's just a natural thing. We have to make sure we're ready to play as well as we can, because we know the other team will be."
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:06 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Marchand off suspension, Peverley also back for B's

NEWARK, N.J. -- After waiting for the mandated five games, Bruins forward Brad Marchand is eager to get back in the lineup. He will Thursday night against the Devils at Prudential Center.

Marchand hasn't played since he was issued a five-minute clipping major and game misconduct late in the second period of the Bruins 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Jan. 7. He was subsequently suspended by the NHL for five games.

"It's always tough to have to watch your team play," Marchand said Thursday morning. "I'm just very excited to be back in the lineup and back in the game again."

Marchand isn't the only Bruin getting back in. Rich Peverley, who missed the last two games for personal reasons, is also returning to the Bruins' lineup Thursday.

"I missed the game," said Peverley, who is not disclosing the reason why he was away from the team for their trip to Florida to play the Panthers and Lightning. "I am really excited to be around the guys again. I'm really excited just to play a game."

Marchand and Peverley are energy players who bring a lot of speed. That's two elements of the game the Bruins have been missing of late.

"Fresh legs, some experienced players as well, and guys that play big roles on our hockey club," Bruins coach Claude Julien said in describing what his team is getting back. "Both of those guys are power-play, penalty-killing players, and they obviously play a big role on their lines. No doubt they're a welcome addition right now."

Julien is hopeful that Marchand won't be thinking about the reason he got suspended when he gets on the ice Thursday night. The last thing the Bruins want is for him to tone down his energy.

"He has got to play his game," Julien said. "But, at the same time, you just have to learn from those situations. He seems to understand from what Brendan (Shanahan) has told him, so he's going to try to rectify that."

Marchand said he doesn't think the suspension will affect his game, but he admitted he will have to ward off thinking about it prior to puck drop.

"The game happens so quick that you really don't have time to think about that stuff," he said. "But before the game you have to think about how you have to play, and sometimes that can creep into your mind a little bit."

Here is the Bruins' entire projected lineup for Thursday's game, including starting goalie Tim Thomas:

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid
Andrew Ference - Joe Corvo

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 11:58 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Recent thrashing by Bruins fresh in Devils' minds

NEWARK, N.J. -- Not enough time has passed for the Devils to forget about the 6-1 thrashing the Bruins laid on them here at Prudential Center on Jan. 4. The fact that New Jersey has won five of six since that beating means something heading into Thursday's showdown against Boston, but not enough to change the feeling that this game in front of them is a huge test and so important.

"We saw where the bar was for the best team in the League the last time we played these guys, and we didn't measure up," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "We have another opportunity two weeks later to see if we can get there. I think we can get to that level, but it's going to take a team effort to do that."

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was beaten six times on 27 shots the last time these teams met. He'll be back in net Thursday to try to exact some revenge, but it's really about what happens in front of Brodeur that will make the difference.

The Devils had no jump the last time they played the Bruins, and they were beaten to every loose puck and lost just about every physical battle. The Bruins were relentless, too. They took a 3-1 lead into the third period, and then got goals from Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Shawn Thornton before the final buzzer rang.

"You've got to be physical and you've got to work hard," Brodeur said of how the Devils can beat the Bruins. "You've got to win battles along the boards and in the faceoff circles, all the little battles all over the ice. If you can't battle with them, it's going to be tough to win the hockey game."

The Devils feel they'll be able to match that battle level Thursday. They learned the hard way what happens when they don't.

"We were doing well at the time we met them, and we kind of hit a wall there," Brodeur said. "I think we came back and did well on our side, and now we have another chance to see how we measure up. Hopefully we've learned from how we played. They played a good game against us, but we didn't feel we competed to the level that they brought to us. We'll try to change that tonight, that's for sure."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 11:54 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Devils get Henrique back in lineup against Bruins

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils rookie center Adam Henrique will return to the lineup Thursday night against the Bruins after missing the last two games with a groin injury. Henrique will be back in his customary spot between left wing Zach Parise and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk on the Devils' top line.

"It felt good this morning, so I'm excited to get back in and play," Henrique said after participating in New Jersey's optional morning skate.

Henrique suffered the injury during the Devils 2-1 overtime win at Edmonton last week. He said Wednesday after practicing for the first time that he was definitely thinking about the injury throughout the entire practice session.

However, he said Thursday morning that won't be the case against the Bruins.

"The first practice back is a little different, but I'll be ready to go tonight," Henrique said.

Mattias Tedenby will be a healthy scratch and Martin Brodeur will get the start in net against the Bruins, who beat the Devils at Prudential Center, 6-1, on Jan. 4.

Here is the Devils projected lineup, or at least the one that was written on the white board inside the team's dressing room:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Steven Zalewski - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Kurtis Foster

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 4:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Suter leaves game, doubtful to face Rangers

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Nashville All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter left Monday's game at Nassau Coliseum after the first period and did not return due to an upper-body injury. Predators coach Barry Trotz said following the team's 3-1 win over the Islanders that Suter is "doubtful" for Tuesday's game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

"It's going to be day-to-day," Trotz said without elaborating on the specific nature of the injury. "If you want a questionable or doubtful, he's probably doubtful."

Trotz said Suter got "nicked up" Saturday against Philadelphia, and "strained it a little bit" in the first period Monday. Suter, who played 10 shifts totaling 7:04 of ice time, was questionable prior to Monday's game, but after taking warm-ups he told Trotz that he was good to go.

However, Trotz, who said it was Suter's call to play, decided to dress seven defensemen just in case. He went with ex-Islander Jack Hillen, who wound up playing 16 shifts totaling 13:27 of ice time.

"With guys like Sutes and Webs (Shea Weber), top players in the League, you don't really replace them, everybody just has to pick up more of the load and try to get it done together," Trotz said.

The good news for the Predators is they had a 3-0 lead after the first period on goals from Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt Halischuk and David Legwand.

"At least he played the first period," Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said of Suter. "Hopefully we don't miss him more than this game because he's such a big piece of this team."

The Islanders had only six shots on goal in the first period, but with Suter out they managed 19 in the second and another 12 in the third.

"You miss Sutes back there, but we came out early and wanted to get the lead, and that's what we did," Legwand said. "We have to manage the game a little bit better in the second. That's a big thing for us, game management."

It's possible they'll have to manage an entire game without Suter on Tuesday.

"We're going to get tested by the Rangers," Trotz said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 11:25 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Islanders give Poulin the nod against Predators

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin will get his second start of the season Monday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.

Poulin, who was recently named the Player of the Week in the American Hockey League, made 26 saves in a 3-2 loss against Dallas on Dec. 15 after being recalled on an emergency basis that same day. He was sent back to Bridgeport the following day, but was again recalled last Monday on an emergency basis and has been practicing with the club.

"Sitting with our coaches and goalie coach we thought this would be the right time to give him a start," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "I think he's a little bit more confident. Kevin has always been one of those guys that has a swagger to him, he has the right attitude and he wants to be the guy. His play after training camp, going to Bridgeport, getting the time, he's got a little bit more confidence. Hopefully he goes out there and gives us a chance."

Poulin will likely remain the backup to Evgeni Nabokov for the foreseeable future. Al Montoya remains out with a concussion and Rick DiPietro might be sidelined for the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery.

Poulin went 4-2-1 with a .924 save percentage and 2.44 goals-against average in 10 appearances last season.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 3:47 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wideman surprised by ASG selection

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Dennis Wideman picked up his phone Thursday afternoon, heard the voice on the other end, and figured he was wrong.

"I didn't know what was going on, but in my experience when the GM calls you it's usually not good news," Wideman said smiling.

This time it wasn't. This time, it was Washington general manager George McPhee calling Wideman to tell him he had been selected to play in his first career NHL All-Star Game.

Wideman was among 10 defensemen picked on Thursday to join fan vote favorites Erik Karlsson and Dion Phaneuf in the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

To say Wideman was surprised at McPhee's news is an understatement.

"I got the call from George, and you guys all know, you've talked to George, he's pretty even keeled and when he called me I was like, 'Oh man, where am I going now?' " Wideman said. "It was good. I was pretty excited -- a little caught off guard, but excited about it."

Wideman earned his spot in the All-Star Game with strong offensive numbers in the first half. He has eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points in 41 games, including 16 points in his last 17 games.

He'll join five-time All-Star Alex Ovechkin as the Capitals representatives in Ottawa.

"I think it's going to be an experience," Wideman said. "Obviously guys that have been there eight, nine, 10 times they might want a break, but for me and guys that are getting picked for their first time it's really exciting to get a chance to go and see what it's all about. I've been watching it on TV for years, so it should be exciting."

Wideman isn't quite sure what he'll be asked to do in the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Jan. 28, but he has his own ideas of what he'll be good at.

"I'm hoping that we don't all have to do skills and I'm one of the ones that doesn't have to do it," he said. "I'm not even sure what all of them are, but hopefully I can just hold a camera and take some pictures."

Wideman said he will have to cancel a planned trip home in order to go to Ottawa, but he's happy to do it. He also said he will have some family there, but who remains to be seen.

"I'm not even sure how it all works, how many tickets you get," he said.

He's looking forward to figuring it out soon.

"It's something that at some point in your career you hope you get a chance to do," Wideman said of playing in an All-Star Game, "and I was lucky enough this year to get the opportunity."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Posted On Wednesday, 01.11.2012 / 10:27 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Backstrom, Green still missing for Caps

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals put center Nicklas Backstrom on injured reserve Wednesday morning and offered no timetable for his return other than to say he can be activated at any point.

Backstrom, who watched practice from the bench while wearing a red hoodie, has missed the last two games since taking a flagrant elbow to the head from Calgary forward Rene Bourque in last Tuesday's game against Calgary. Bourque was suspended for five games for the infraction.

"We're being cautious with him still," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. "He's not feeling 100 percent, so we're being careful."

The Capitals will also again be without defenseman Mike Green when they face Pittsburgh on Wednesday at Verizon Center. Green re-injured his groin this past Saturday at San Jose and missed the game at Los Angeles on Monday.

Green previously missed 23 straight games after initially injuring his groin Nov. 11 at New Jersey. The game against San Jose was his first one back, but he played only nine shifts totaling 7:11 before having to leave. He was seen walking with a noticeable limp when he arrived at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Wednesday morning.

"He's getting strength. He needs more strength," Hunter said. "Once he gets enough strength he'll be good. It's one of those things where it won't be long term, but it just takes time to build that up a little bit more."

Washington used Backstrom's roster spot to call up defenseman Tomas Kundratek from Hershey of the AHL. Kundratek will make his season debut Wednesday against Pittsburgh. He will be paired with Roman Hamrlik.

John Erskine and Jeff Schultz will be the Capitals' healthy scratches on defense.

"He's been playing well down there so we thought we'd give him the chance up here to see what he can do and get a look at him," Hunter said. "I've seen him play once. He's a good skater and he moves the puck. So, we're anxious to take a look at him at this level. We like his mobility, that he can skate, and when you're playing well down there you get to come up here and play."

Tomas Vokoun will make his seventh straight start. He gave up four goals on 27 shots and was pulled after two periods in Monday's 5-2 loss at Los Angeles, but Hunter said the Capitals played poorly in front of Vokoun and didn't give him a chance.

"He's a veteran," Hunter said. "He'll be ready to go."

Here are Washington's projected forward lines and defense pairings based off of the morning skate:

Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Alexander Semin
Troy Brouwer - Brooks Laich - Mike Knuble
Jason Chimera - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Jay Beagle

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Tomas Kundratek

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 1:02 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins set for busy stretch up to All-Star break

NEWARK, N.J. -- Between their 4-2 loss to Dallas on New Year's Eve and Wednesday's game against the Devils, the Bruins have had a chance to have several quality days of hard, workmanlike practices. Boston coach Claude Julien knows how important those days will be with the Bruins starting a stretch of three games in four days and 12 games in 20 days before the All-Star break.

"It's not going to get any easier for us from here on in," Julien said Wednesday morning. "We recognize that as a group, and it's going to be a good challenge for us as a group."

Julien is happy with the approach of his players, too, especially because he knows how easy it could be for them to look forward to Saturday's Stanley Cup Final rematch against Vancouver at TD Garden.

"The Vancouver game at the end of the week will be a rematch, but I think our guys are really looking at one game at a time and seeing that this game is the one we have to have our focus on," Julien said. "Where probably on the outside everybody is looking forward to that Saturday game against Vancouver, we haven't talked about it in the dressing room and I haven't heard players mention it. Our focus is living in the moment."

The moment brings them to their second of four games against the Devils this season. The Bruins beat the Devils, 4-3, in Boston on Nov. 15. At the time it was their sixth of 10 straight victories to start November, but Julien remembers how difficult a win it was to get.

It took Benoit Pouliot scoring with 3:01 left in the third period for the Bruins to finally put the Devils away. New Jersey had fought back from deficits of 2-1 and 3-2 in the third period.

"They've got a reputation of being a hard team to play against, and every night it's that same challenge of battling through their defensive system, and also they're a team that has good size," Julien said. "They're a heavy team, they're strong on the puck and you look at their games, how they win battles along the boards, protect the puck and strip guys of the puck -- it's because of the heavy game they play. We have to be aware of that."
 
Here are the the Bruins' projected lines and defense pairs:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas, who was in net for the win over New Jersey in November, will get the start. He's backed up by Tuukka Rask.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 11:50 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kovalchuk, Hedberg have small WJC wager

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils goalie Johan Hedberg and star forward Ilya Kovalchuk have more riding on Thursday's World Junior Championship gold-medal game between Sweden and Russia than just national pride.

"Just a small cash bet, not much," Hedberg told NHL.com. "It's just more for bragging rights."

Hedberg, who is from Leksand, Sweden, said he and Kovalchuk made their bet upon arrival at Prudential Center Wednesday morning. The Russians beat Canada 6-5 on Tuesday while Sweden beat Finland 3-2 in a shootout to advance to the gold-medal game.

Russia is looking for its second straight World Juniors gold while Sweden hasn't won it since 1981.

"We're going to stand by our boys," Hedberg said. "It was pretty much a sure thing that there would be some kind of a bet on a game like that. Kovy is not the guy to back down."

Hedberg said there hasn't been any trash talking as of yet.

"Absolutely not, but Kovy is great because he has a lot of knowledge about the Russians and he takes interest in the young guys, to see who is coming up," Hedberg said. "And obviously I have an interest in the Swedes."

Hedberg and Kovalchuk will not be watching the game together. Hedberg said he'll be with his fellow countrymen, Henrik Tallinder, Jacob Josefsen, Mattias Tedenby and Adam Larsson, who, by the way, is old enough to play in the World Juniors but is instead going through a successful rookie season with the Devils.

"The Swedes are going to watch it together," he said. "We were at Jacob's (Josefsen) apartment (Tuesday) and we watched it. It was exciting. It felt like it was coming. If they kept doing what they were doing they were going to get rewarded sooner or later, and they did. I really like them. I like the way they play and I like their fighting spirit."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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