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Posted On Friday, 06.07.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Campbell injury hurts Bruins' penatly-kill

BOSTON -- After a slow start to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins' penalty kill has been nearly airtight from the second round on.

Heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), the Bruins have killed off 26 of 28 power plays since the start of their second-round series against the New York Rangers.

Now the penalty kill will have a challenge almost as great as trying to stop Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of Pittsburgh's star-studded power play.

Center Gregory Campbell is done for the rest of the postseason with a broken fibula. He usually combines with fourth-line partner Daniel Paille to form one of Boston's three main pairs on their penalty kill, which ranked fourth in the NHL during the regular season.

"It's tough. He plays such a hard game," forward Brad Marchand said of losing Campbell. "He's such a big part of our team. You saw the last couple of rounds, he's been very big. He's not really a guy you can really replace, but everybody has to step up a little bit and hopefully, collectively we can fill that void."

Posted On Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 12:22 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Rask none the worse for wear after ding in practice

BOSTON -- Everyone took the ice Wednesday for the Boston Bruins' morning skate, which featured one minor scare.

During one drill, goaltender Tuukka Rask took a teammate's shot off his shoulder, and he reacted by skating toward the bench and slamming his stick against the TD Garden boards. It took less than a minute for Rask to return to his crease and get back to work.

Julien said after the skate there were no issues in terms of Rask getting the start in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 3:38 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins surging since Game 7 vs. Maple Leafs

BEDFORD, Mass. -- It still runs the risk of becoming the Boston Bruins' version of Carlton Fisk's extra-inning home run for the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series or the Boston Celtics' comeback from 21 points down in the 2002 conference finals.

Both of those great Boston postseason sports accomplishments of the past ultimately failed to pay off in a championship.

So as we wait to see how the Bruins' run through the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs ends, their comeback after trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on May 13 can only be classified as the wake-up call that sparked the Bruins to a deep postseason run.

The Bruins' improved quality of play from that night has continued forward into the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Including their wins in the first two games of this series, the Bruins have won seven of eight games and outscored their opponents 29-11 since they were behind the Maple Leafs 4-1.

Game 3 is Wednesday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It seems like it. It seems like we have to have a bad experience in order to get going," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after the team arrived at Hanscom Field from Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning. "Like two years ago (when the Bruins rallied from two games down against Montreal), we came out on top again. Once that happens, it seems like everybody starts playing better and rolling, and the whole team starts to fire."

Posted On Tuesday, 06.04.2013 / 3:11 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins able to manage ice time of top defensemen

BEDFORD, Mass. -- One of the perks of winning the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final comfortably has been the opportunity for the Boston Bruins to limit the ice time of their top defensemen.

After Zdeno Chara averaged more than 29 minutes per game in the first two rounds, the Bruins stalwart has averaged 25 minutes of ice time against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dennis Seidenberg, Chara's usual partner, hasn't had to log more than 24:38 in this series, right around the amount of time he averaged through six games in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs before he was injured.

A rested corps of defensemen not only has the energy during a game to slow down the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla, but should also have more in the tank later in the series if things get tougher or if overtime is necessary.

Game 3 is Wednesday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It definitely helps. If you have everybody going, you can do that. So not having to play too many minutes keeps you fresh and ready to go for the following games," Seidenberg said.

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:19 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins need Rask to continue being their hot hand

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have had the luxury of a hot hand in net through two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Keeping goaltender Tuukka Rask ready to go with so much time off before the start of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday can be a bit of a challenge. But the Finnish phenom is adjusting to the week's rest so far.

"It's more, it's kind of weird, because [sometimes] you finish up a series and you think you're going to have three days off and you don't. You're still emotional and ready to play," Rask said after Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. "But then you get three days off, four days off, you kind of just feel like it's training camp, we're just practicing here. But it obviously isn't.

"I think it's just a mental challenge to know how to relax, but still keep yourself focused and knowing the series will start soon and you have to be ready to go. It's definitely been a different week."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins work on some basics during light practice

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After two days off and two hard days on the ice, the Boston Bruins went through a lighter practice Thursday at Ristuccia Arena.

It’s been a challenge for the coaching staff to fill in all these days since the Bruins beat the New York Rangers last Saturday until the Eastern Conference Final starts this Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Practice on Thursday was part of dialing things down before the intensity picks up again Saturday.

"That's what we did today. We just did a couple drills and then we just wanted to work our power play today and penalty kill. So basically the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 3:01 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bartkowski looking forward to facing hometown team

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien is not worried about defenseman Matt Bartkowski collapsing under the pressure of facing his hometown team in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Bartkowski, who grew up in Mount Lebanon, Pa., loved the Pittsburgh Penguins as a kid. Now he might get to face the Penguins in the Stanley Cup semifinals starting Saturday.

"He seems pretty excited. He's looking forward to it," Julien said after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. "I think at the end of the day he knows who he's playing for and he wants to do well for his team. And the better he does, the better he looks in everybody's eyes, whether it's his hometown that's rooting for the other team or whether it's us. So I don't see an issue with that. I think if anything it's a positive, it's exciting, and you know for sure that he's going to be ready to play."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 2:49 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins considering multiple options on defense

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There are so many variables affecting what the Boston Bruins' defense corps will look like when the Eastern Conference Finals begin Saturday night.

If everyone is healthy, the Bruins could try to defend the Pittsburgh Penguins with the same top four defensemen who won the Stanley Cup in 2011: Zdeno Chara paired with Dennis Seidenberg, and Andrew Ference coupled with Johnny Boychuk.

Rookie Matt Bartkowski could be in the mix to play top-four minutes, and Chara and Seidenberg could be split up. With so many days to prepare before facing the Penguins, the Bruins are trying out different scenarios. One drill at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday featured everyone rotating in and playing with different partners every shift.

Anything is possible prior to Game 1, and coach Claude Julien told the media he hasn't ruled out any and every defensive combination

"It's good, because you saw us during the season, we mixed and matched. And you guys kept asking a lot of questions about that and I said, 'You know what? It's important that we do that because at some point they’re all going to have to play with each other,'" Julien said. "And guys can play right that are left shots, or vice versa. And even during the game we still mix and match pairs sometimes. It's not necessarily set pairs that you see on the ice all the time. So that's not going to change."

Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 2:05 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Seidenberg taking extra time to continue healing up

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The decision to sit out Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers and not try to help the Boston Bruins complete a sweep last Thursday was difficult for Dennis Seidenberg.

But the veteran defenseman, who returned in time to aid Boston in its ousting of the Rangers in Game 5 Saturday, knows it was the right decision to rest his undisclosed injury another couple days rather than rink further damage.

"I wanted to play Game 4, obviously, but we talked to the coaching staff and the medical staff and we decided together that maybe it was best to hold out one more game and give it a couple more days. I think it was the right decision and, I mean, it was right at the end," Seidenberg said after he took part in an hour-long practice at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday.

Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 2:00 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Ference practicing with Bruins, but status uncertain

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference practiced with his teammates Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

The veteran has been out of game action since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 5. He missed all of the conference semifinals against the New York Rangers and only just recently started skating with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.

As for Ference's availability in the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the blueliner's status is up in the air.

"It's a good sign that he's practicing with us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team followed two days off with an hour-long practice. "I don't know, it's a medical issue that unless the trainers say it's a go -- and sometimes he may be ready but could be risky kind of ready -- I've got to wait and see what the trainers see and also how Andrew feels as well before I make a decision on him."

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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