BOSTON -- Boston Bruins rookie forward Matt Fraser has made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut, tasted a couple wins and one loss, and scored an overtime goal in their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Montreal Canadiens.
Now he'll add to his NHL experience by becoming one of five Bruins who will skate in their first NHL Game 7 on Wednesday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers.
Not only is Fraser's Game 7 experience naught, his experience in elimination games is slim. He recalled that the only time he's been in a similar situation was a couple of weeks ago when he was with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and they defeated the Springfield Falcons in a best-of-5 series that went the distance.
Fraser figures he knows how to overcome his lack of experience with the season on the line.
"I think these games are obviously a different animal," Fraser said after an optional morning skate. "But you show up to the rink, you're loose, you're relaxed. There's no reason to be uptight because it won't work in your favor. You just kind of work with it, go about your business and make sure you're ready to go."
BOSTON -- Based on the type of game-changer defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was for the Boston Bruins in recent Stanley Cup Playoff runs, he is a player the Bruins would love to have in their lineup.
However, it doesn't sound like Seidenberg, who had surgery for an ACL/MCL injury in early January, has a chance playing in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at TD Garden on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Krejci, who has three assists and is a team-worst minus-3 in the playoffs, will try to find the back of the net Monday when the Bruins play Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
The Bruins lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can advance to their second consecutive Eastern Conference Final with a win.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have won eight best-of-7 series in three of the past four Stanley Cup Playoffs, including their five-game win against the Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference First Round this season.
Some series have been short, some have been long. The Bruins have been in all sorts of permutations in terms of leads and deficits.
It'd be easy to focus on the negative experiences and point out that since 2010 the Bruins have failed to close a series with a 3-2 lead on the road four times. But the Bruins, who hold that 3-2 lead heading on the road for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), would rather focus on their positive experiences.
But Fraser's impact skating next to center Carl Soderberg and right wing Loui Eriksson might be further revealed as the best-of-7 series heads back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It is tied 2-2.
MONTREAL --Boston Bruins center Carl Soderberg missed the morning skate at Bell Centre in preparation for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
However, coach Claude Julien said Soderberg took his option and would be available to help the Bruins, who enter Game 4 down 2-1 in the best-of-7 series.
Even if Soderberg plays, there's anticipation of a lineup change for the Bruins because Thursday morning forward Matt Fraser was called up from Providence of the American Hockey League and forward Justin Florek was sent down to Providence. Florek has one goal in six games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but had been scratched since he last played in Game 1 against Montreal.
BOSTON -- The Bell Centre can be a foreboding place for opposing players, particularly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It's arguably the loudest building in the NHL, and the Montreal Canadiens tend to feed off that noise more than the other team. The crowd and atmosphere can also have other impacts on the game other than juicing up the local players.
With Game 3 of an Eastern Conference Second Round series, which is tied between the Boston Bruins and Canadiens 1-1, scheduled for Bell Centre on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), center David Krejci knows just how hard a time the Bruins, or any team, can have on Montreal's home ice in the postseason.
Against Montreal, Meszaros had an assist and took one minor penalty in 16:35 of ice time.
"It's not what he [Meszaros] gave me, it's what we decided to do," Bruins coach Claude Julien said during an off day Sunday. "It's as simple as that. I think we felt we needed a change and we made that."
Although Julien wouldn't elaborate on his decision, Bartkowski's play had an impact on Boston's Game 1 loss. The defenseman, who missed the first two games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an illness, took two penalties against the Canadiens, including one that led to defenseman P.K. Subban's game-winning goal in double overtime. Bartkowski also struggled on breakouts and with decision making in 26:26 of ice time. He had a plus-1 rating.
BOSTON – It would have been difficult for the Boston Bruins to improve a power play that went 6-for-16 in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Detroit Red Wings and ranked third in the regular season at 21.7 percent efficiency, but few people expected this.
Through two games of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens, Boston's power play has been less of a weapon. The Bruins went a combined 0-for-5 in the two games, which they split to send to the series to Bell Centre for Game 3 on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"We definitely have to improve," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said Sunday. "You know special teams win you hockey games. And their power play is showing up and our penalty kill's not, and our power play is struggling to find the back of the net. We're getting good looks, though. We have good movement and good momentum. But at the end of the day, in the playoffs that doesn't matter. You've got to score goals and I think we're on the verge of finding the back of the net, for sure."
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The day after a 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, only a handful of Boston Bruins players took part in an optional practice at Ristuccia Arena on Friday.
Among those that took the ice was defenseman Matt Bartkowski. The 25-year-old was clearly still frustrated that his holding penalty on Montreal forward Dale Weise at 4:10 of the second overtime set the stage for Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban’s game-winning goal seven seconds later.
Bartkowski wasn't just fixated on that penalty. He was upset about his entire body of work during his 26:26 of ice time.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After the Boston Bruins lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask used an expletive to describe his play in net.
Rask made 29 saves on 33 shots in the 4-3 double-overtime loss. The Vezina Trophy finalist, who leads all goaltenders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 1.52 goals-against average and .946 save percentage, has always been blunt after his rare subpar games in the NHL.
That's why the Bruins love Rask as a person as much as they do as a goaltender. He's a teammate on equal footing with everyone in the dressing room. He hangs out with the guys off the ice and doesn’t request special treatment.
With Game 2 of the best-of-7 series at TD Garden on Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), Rask's teammates voiced their support of their goaltender Friday after an optional practice at Ristuccia Arena.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have a couple question marks at left wing heading into Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Daniel Paille took the morning skate and has been cleared to play. He's been out since the next-to-last game of the regular season, including missing the five-game first-round series win against the Detroit Red Wings.
So now, regardless of when the Bruins' Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Montreal Canadiens starts later this week, Boston will be rested, even if Montreal will have an edge on that front. The Canadiens won their first-round series in four games with a victory last Tuesday.
Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli is grateful for his team's respite.
The 41-year-old forward returned to the Red Wings lineup for Game 5 after missing two games because of a back injury. He did not have a point in the Stanley Cup Playoff series.
"You take some time off here and just decompose everything, take everything in,” Alfredsson said after he was asked about next season. "There’s been a lot of new impressions obviously for me and my family, but overall we've had a fun, challenging year. We've all learned a lot, so I'll take some time and settle down, and start the process from there."
BOSTON -- Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock confirmed Saturday that forward Daniel Alfredsson is scheduled to play against the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round on at TD Garden (3 p.m. ET; NBC, RDS, TSN).
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins won Game 4 in overtime and hold a 3-1 series lead.
No, this isn't the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's 2014. But the scenario seems awfully familiar.
It was just last year that Boston took a 3-1 lead in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals only to let the Toronto Maple Leafs extend the series to seven games. The Bruins will try to avoid the same fate when they host the Detroit Red Wings for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round at TD Garden on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, RDS, TSN).
"You get these opportunities, and sometimes it's more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge," said Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who Friday was named one of the three Vezina Trophy finalists. "You kind of start thinking about the end score of the game before the game even starts, and you kind of feel and hope that you get to do that. But I think we've learned over the years that it doesn't help us. We just have to focus on our job and the game itself, and then the results will take care of themselves. I hope we learned from the past years and are ready for tomorrow."
DETROIT -- The return of defenseman Matt Bartkowski from illness for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Tuesday pretty much made the Boston Bruins defense whole.
Defensemen Dennis Seidenberg (ACL/MCL) and Adam McQuaid (quad) are skating, but there's little sign they'll be returning from their injuries anytime soon. With Bartkowski back, coach Claude Julien had the six defensemen he rode for most of the stretch run without Seidenberg and McQuaid.
Bartkowski was off skates for a week because of a virus and had a couple practices before he skated for 18:34 in the Bruins' 3-0 win that put them ahead 2-1 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against the Detroit Red Wings.
Game 4 is Thursday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FS-D).
Bartkowski took a regular shift and helped out on the penalty kill, which was 3-for-3 and is 9-for-9 in the series.
"I think we got what we needed to get from [Bartkowski on Tuesday] night," Julien said. "When you win the game, you take the win and you look at his game, and for a guy who hadn't skated for almost a week or even played, I thought he handled himself well. And there's no doubt he'll only get better here as he continues to play."
DETROIT -- It seems like nearly everyone playing in the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings is either from Michigan or Sweden.
There won't be any games played in Gothenburg in the best-of-7 series, which is tied 1-1, but Game 3 Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2, NESN, FS-D) marks a homecoming for two Bruins from the Great Lakes State.
Defenseman Torey Krug, a native of Livonia and Michigan State alum, has played at The Joe in regular season, but will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in the building. Forward Justin Florek, who hails from Marquette, hasn't played at The Joe since he was at Northern Michigan University.
"It's going to be exciting," Krug said after the morning skate. "You know you watch a lot of the playoff games growing up and see the octopus thrown on the ice, and as a kid you dream of playing in the playoffs in this building. I probably was thinking I was on the other side. But now I'm excited in the position I'm in, and we can come in and be the bad guys."
BOSTON --Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock compared his team's play on the power play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins to an "exercise in skating up and down the rink" Sunday.
The Bruins' ability to extinguish all four of Detroit's power plays was instrumental in Boston's 4-1 win that evened the series at 1-1 heading into Game 3 on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FS-D) in Detroit.
"Yeah, we definitely got to keep that going," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said after an optional practice at TD Garden on Monday. "I think we've made some good adjustments. [Assistant coach Doug Jarvis has] been pretty good to tell us I guess what to do. And right now it's about getting used to the new guys that are killing. But it's been going well."
They might be a little healthier in time for Game 3 on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in Detroit. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who hasn't played in a game since April 13, skated during an optional practice Monday at TD Garden. He would appear to be the closest to returning of Boston's missing regulars.
Forward Daniel Paille, who hasn't played since he was injured April 12, skated as well. He's been on the ice several times in the past week as he tries to return from what's believed to be a head injury. The Bruins are being patient with all their returnees.
"There's again a certain route you have to take," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "And it's no different than Matt Bartkowski being out for that long and being sick. We have to allow him to skate a little bit and get himself back into the groove of things before you're allowed to throw him into a game. So I don't think those guys [Paille and forward Chris Kelly] being much, much different. So again, it's a day-to-day process, and I'm just waiting to hear."
In fact, discouraged isn't even a word in their vocabulary.
"I don't know what that means, but I don't think so," said Bruins center Carl Soderberg, a native of Sweden.
The point is that even though the Bruins lost Game 1 of the series 1-0 Friday, they'll be at home for Game 2 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) with no need to panic. In several series, their core had to come back from as many as 2-0 down to win or at least extend it.
Forward Jarome Iginla is in his first playoffs with the Bruins, but he said he sees the resolve that's made the Bruins a resilient team for several seasons.
"I think this group in here, we're prepared to work hard and we take a lot of pride in that and competing," Iginla said after practice at TD Garden. "Things don't always go perfectly and they haven't even during the year. It's part of it. And we also, you know, we believe in ourselves and each other. One game isn't going to change that."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins went into Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday minus two of their expected top six defensemen.
Matt Bartkowski, who didn't practice all week, and Kevan Miller, who only made an appearance at one practice, were scratched for the series opener. It's unknown whether each is injured or a victim of the flu bug that Bruins coach Claude Julien said hit the team. Miller missed two games in early April but played the final three games of the regular season.
Now, the first-round pick (No. 25) in the 2009 NHL Draft is probably going to play a big role at the biggest time of the year.
Caron, who skated in 35 games and had one goal and two assists, could be in the lineup against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, FS-D, NESN).
BOSTON -- Although it has been a long wait for the Boston Bruins to begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings, the extra time off until Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, FS-D, NESN) has allowed the Bruins to get healthier.
Injuries and a flu bug had ravaged the Bruins' roster earlier in the week. Boston got healthier on Thursday with the return of rookie defenseman Kevan Miller for practice at the Garden. However, defenseman Matt Bartkowski (undisclosed), and forwards Chris Kelly (back) and Daniel Paille (head), remained off the ice.
Bruins coach Claude Julien revealed little about the missing players' status or availability for Game 1.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- For all of the Boston Bruins' success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past three years, they have struggled in the first round.
The Bruins, who open the Eastern Conference First Round against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, FS-D, NESN), have gone the full seven games three years in a row, and all of those series finales have gone to overtime.
As the third seed in 2011, the Bruins fell behind two games to none before beating the sixth-seeded Montreal Canadiens. Boston was the second seed when it lost to the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals in 2012 after forcing Game 7 with a Game 6 win on the road. Last season, the fourth-seeded Bruins made their miracle comeback from three goals down in the third period to beat the fifth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs in the do-or-die game.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic said he has an idea why the Bruins, who won the Presidents' Trophy this season and are the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, have made it so hard on themselves and how they can rectify the situation against the Red Wings, who are the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
"We've got to be prepared to bring our best, because you talk about the last three years, you know the other team hasn't taken us lightly at all and they've given us their best," Lucic said after practice at Ristuccia Arena. "And maybe we kind of overlooked, I guess, the other team a little too much where we kind of got ourselves into holes and got into a Game 7 overtime situation the last three years. So hopefully our mindset is where it needs to be in order for us to bring our best."
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Center Patrice Bergeron missed two of the Boston Bruins' last three games of the regular season and sat out the third period of the third game in that stretch.
The veteran alternate captain also didn't participate in the Bruins' first practice Tuesday in preparation for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN).
Bruins observers, however, were able to breathe a sigh of relief Wednesday when Bergeron returned to the ice and practiced with his linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith at Ristuccia Arena.
Even the coaches have an interesting tie-in. Bruins coach Claude Julien was an assistant for Detroit coach Mike Babcock with the gold-medal winning Canada team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in February.
Julien said he doesn't think that relationship gave either coach an edge heading into Game 1 on Friday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN, NBCSN, FS-D, NESN).
"I think we're on even grounds there," Julien said Tuesday after practice at TD Garden. "We all got to know each other a little bit better, but … there's no secrets in this game anymore. And I think at the same time, I know his tendencies, he knows mine. It's just going to make for a more interesting series. But I don't think there's that big of a difference between the two of us because we worked together or if I was going against someone else that I didn't work with. We know pretty well our tendencies, not just players' but also coaches' tendencies. How certain guys are hard matchers, other guys don't and that kind of stuff. That's part of our homework that we have to do as coaches."
Right wing Jarome Iginla is scheduled to skate in his normal spot on a line with center David Krejci and Milan Lucic. It's a trio that has played together since the first day of training camp.
What a difference a year makes.
One year ago today Iginla was on his way from the Calgary Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade that ended his lengthy run in Alberta and seemingly made the Penguins the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Iginla and the Penguins finished their season in the Eastern Conference Final against the Bruins. Ironically, Iginla had picked Pittsburgh rather than Boston when Flames general manager Jay Feaster asked the player to waive his no-trade clause.
It's been a hectic and emotional year since Iginla left Calgary. After the Penguins opted not to bring him back, Iginla signed a one-year contract with Boston in the summer and has scored a team-high 28 goals and emerged as a key cog for a team that's challenging for the Presidents' Trophy. Along the way Iginla has made return trips to Pittsburgh and Calgary and had to adapt to life in a new organization for the second time in a year.
The Canadiens will face the Bruins at TD Garden on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"We were checking the score the other night [Saturday] against Phoenix, and Phoenix was up going into the third period and we were kind of hoping Boston would come back and win so we would get the chance to knock them off," Weise said after the morning skate Monday.
Boychuk went feet-first into the end wall in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. He returned to the game but wasn't able to take part in the morning skate with the Bruins on Monday.
"He didn't skate this morning because he can't," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Right now he's too sore, so he's day-to-day. It's from obviously the incident [Saturday], and so he couldn't skate this morning. He came in early and we tried to see if he could and he couldn't."
Boychuk has three goals, 20 points and a plus-30 rating in 63 games.
He was ruled out by coach Dave Tippett for the game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday at TD Garden. General manager Don Maloney told the Arizona Republic he hopes to have Erat back in the lineup within a week.
Meszaros will find himself in a similar situation with Boston that he was in with Philadelphia. The Bruins have eight healthy defensemen and there will be stiff competition to get in the lineup.
"I don't think it's going to be easy," Meszaros said after his first morning skate with the Bruins. "We have a great group over here and we had great defensemen in Philly too, so it's always tough to crack the lineup. And it's up to the coaches, and obviously up to me, how I'm going to respond if they give me a chance."
"It's a young group in here," Pirri said. "And they're on the right track to do something good. That's what I was looking for, an opportunity to be a part of something. And talking to [general manager Dale [Tallon] last night, it was exciting to be here. And he says we're headed in the right direction. So it's very exciting."
BOSTON -- When the Vancouver Canucks visit the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at TD Garden, they will be hungry for a victory after losing their past four games in regulation.
The Bruins, who have won five of their past six, will be ready for a team with everything to lose.
"A team that's a desperate team is always a challenge," Bruins forward Chris Kelly said after the morning skate. "And we know that they're going to play desperate hockey. Whenever you lose four games in a row, and the expectations are extremely high like they are for that team, they're going to come out with their best game and we need to be ready for that."
The Canucks did not hold a morning skate. They flew in late Monday after a 2-0 road loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have scored six goals in each of their past three games.
Boston's recent offensive hot streak, however, hasn't changed the Montreal Canadiens' plans to start backup goaltender Peter Budaj against the Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
Carey Price started the previous eight games and Budaj has made two relief appearances since his last start Jan. 8.
"We prepare a schedule monthly, and even after that we go week-to-week, and me and Stephane [Waite, goaltending coach] we talk about it because we need to maintain the energy, physically and mentally, to Carey Price," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after his team's morning skate. "And we've got four games this week in six days, so this is important for us to make sure Carey is sharp and make sure he's sharp physically, mentally. And Carey played a lot of hockey lately so we decided to go with Peter."
That confidence has carried the Panthers on their current three-game road winning streak, which continued with a comeback against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. The Panthers will need all their confidence and more Tuesday when they visit the Boston Bruins, who are 19-5-2 at TD Garden this season.
"We know what we have to [do] to win, and no matter what building we're in we're trying to catch up to everybody and we're trying to make up some ground and trying to stay relevant to that last [Stanley Cup Playoff] spot," Horachek said after the Panthers' morning skate. "So you have to learn how to win on the road and be successful on the road and I think we've had some success. … That's important for us. We have to learn to play in those situations, in hard buildings, in tough buildings, and those got us going."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday will be more than just a homecoming for the team after a three-game California road trip.
It'll mark the first home game for forward Shawn Thornton, who returned from his 15-game suspension Saturday in the Bruins' lone win of their trip, a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks.
Thornton's previous game was Dec. 7 when he was assessed a match penalty for an incident with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Brooks Orpik. A popular player during his seven seasons with the Bruins, Thornton should expect a warm welcome from the Boston fans.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will star the new year with a new goaltender.
Rookie Niklas Svedberg has been recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League and is scheduled to start against the Nashville Predators on Thursday at TD Garden.
The Bruins' other goaltenders, Tuukka Rask and Chad Johnson, are healthy, but the Bruins wanted to reward Svedberg for his solid play last season and this season with some NHL experience in his second season of North American hockey.
The 24-year-old signed as a free agent out of Sweden in May 2012.
"It's feeling good. Right now I'm just trying to stay calm, focus on the game, what I'm going to do out there," Svedberg said. "That's my only focus right now and we'll see after the game."
Now they can get back to work with a little positive news because Zdeno Chara is expected back in the lineup Tuesday night at TD Garden against the New York Islanders. The Bruins defenseman missed a loss against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday because of an undisclosed injury. That game was also the first the Bruins played without Seidenberg, who sustained an ACL/MCL injury Friday.
Chara said he's feeling good, even if he's not in perfect condition.
"The plan was in place and we're sticking to it," MacLean said after the Senators' morning skate.
Tuukka Rask is expected to be the Bruins' starting goaltender, but he's scheduled to have a new backup. Niklas Svedberg, 24, was recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League to join Rask and Chad Johnson on the NHL roster. Bruins coach Claude Julien said he plans to give Svedberg a start in the near future.
BOSTON -- Officially, Jarome Iginla's streak of consecutive regular-season games played ended last season at 441 when the Calgary Flames had to scratch the forward to keep him injury-free before trading him to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Iginla hadn't missed a game since April 8, 2007, when the Flames rested him.
Unofficially, his iron-man streak is approaching 500 games because that's how many he's played without missing any because of injury. A dislocated finger that forced him out of the first period of theBoston Bruins' loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday should also fail to keep Iginla from playing in a game.
Iginla took part in the morning skate Tuesday at TD Garden and declared he was ready to face the visiting Flames.
Boychuk suffered a back sprain against the Montreal Canadiens after he was hit into the end wall by Max Pacioretty. Boychuk left that game on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital, but he returned to Boston with the team after the game.
"Johnny's doing better," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the morning skate. "I think we dodged a pretty good bullet there, personally. You know those kind of injuries could have serious consequences. We feared the worst, and I think we got as good news as we could get. When he was down, he couldn't breathe. I guess he couldn't move either. So obviously on the medical side of it, our trainers, the Montreal doctors, did the right thing. They took him off in a stretcher, took him to the hospital and they got him checked out.
"And after the MRI [exam on Thursday], they found no fractures. So a lot of it has been based on him locking up from going into the board, muscle spasm and everything else. So we hope that it'll be a quicker recovery."
BOSTON – Had Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla managed to score on his wide-open chance in the second period Friday, the Bruins' comeback would've kicked in gear sooner and their 3-2 win against the New York Rangers might've been less of a nail-biter.
Instead, Iginla's bullet from the high slot went wide and made a bigger noise on the glass than on the score sheet.
"I was pretty excited to get a one-timer in that position and it's what you're hoping for," Iginla said after the Bruins' optional morning skate Saturday. "I got a great pass from [Chris Kelly]. And I hit it hard, I just missed the net. I was probably a little too eager. But I try to get open for those and I'll try to get a few more of those."
BOSTON -- It's been six months since the Eastern Conference Final and the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins are more than a quarter into the 2013-14 regular season.
So the Penguins' first visit back to Boston since getting swept with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line, Monday night at TD Garden, isn't dredging up old memories, except for the lessons the Penguins hope to put into practice to avoid a similar fate this season.
"Unfortunately it was pretty short. It was four games, we only played two here. And it wasn't our best," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said after his team's morning skate. "I thought our best two games in the series were actually here. I think we've all turned the page. It's something that we'll hopefully learn from. But I think we're all moving on and making sure that we learn from it."
BOSTON -- Much like in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins' depth on defense is about to be tested.
Already Adam McQuaid has missed five games with a lower-body injury and he's expected to miss a sixth against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
Now Dennis Seidenberg has joined McQuaid among the injured. Seidenberg skated one shift against the New York Rangers on Tuesday and did not return because of a lower-body injury.
Matt Bartkowski had been filling in for McQuaid. Now 26-year-old Kevan Miller is scheduled to make his NHL debut against the Blues. Miller made a strong push for an NHL job during training camp, and since then the Bruins have been grooming him for this type of opportunity with Providence of the American Hockey League.
"It's my third year [of pro hockey] and you've just got to believe in the process," Miller said after the morning skate. "A lot of guys have been in the same situation. So it's a good feeling."
BOSTON -- Those hoping the goaltending matchup Thursday at TD Garden would pit last season's Vezina Trophy winner against one of the prime candidates for that award this season will be half-pleased when the Boston Bruins host the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
Blue Jackets star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who was voted the best goaltender in the NHL last season, will start for his team. But Tuukka Rask, who woke up Thursday leading the League in save percentage (.948), will get a rare night off and let Chad Johnson make a start.
Johnson hasn't played since Nov. 2, a 3-1 road loss to the New York Islanders. That night the Bruins were outshot 34-27 and it was one of the most-criticized performances of the season by coach Claude Julien. So this time around the Bruins will try to support Johnson better.
BOSTON – Based on the statistics, the battle between the fifth-ranked power play of Toronto Maple Leafs could be a mismatch for the 16th-rated penalty kill of the Boston Bruins in their Atlantic Division game Saturday night at TD Garden.
However, take out the Bruins' 3-for-7 showing against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 26, the Bruins' penalty kill would be 36-for-40 (90 percent) this season. So Bruins coach Claude Julien has full confidence in his penalty killers' ability to slow down the first-place Maple Leafs, who are tied atop the division with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Well our PK has been good this year," Julien said after his team's optional morning skate. "The only reason we're down there in our PK is because of that one game against Jersey. Other than that we'd be in the top two or three in the League. ... Other than that it's been good."
BOSTON -- There will be no homecoming for Tim Thomas on Thursday in Boston.
Although the goaltender traveled with the Florida Panthers for the game against his old team, the Boston Bruins, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said the two-time Vezina Trophy winner remains on injured reserve and will not play. Thomas, who faced the Bruins in a 3-2 loss Oct. 17 in Florida, has not played at TD Garden since leaving the Bruins for a one-season sabbatical following the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Scott Clemmensen, a Boston College alum, will get the start for the Panthers, who are 0-2-4 in their past six games. In six career NHL games at the Garden, Clemmensen is 3-2-0 with a 3.14 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
"That gives us a good option," Dineen said of Clemmensen playing in Boston. "It's like a lot of things. We have depth at every position and we've certainly taken advantage of it early."
Seguin and Peverley were integral parts of the Bruins' teams the past three seasons, including the Stanley Cup championship season of 2010-11.
But the game also will be the first opportunity for the Stars to face their former teammate Loui Eriksson, who was the centerpiece of the package Dallas sent to Boston for Seguin and Peverley. Eriksson will be in the lineup after missing five games with a concussion.
"For me, four years with him was great," Stars captain Jamie Benn said of Eriksson. "We know Loui's such a great player. He brought a lot to this team and it was tough to see him go."
But with Selanne back in California awaiting oral surgery, the team will get one body back against the Boston Bruins on Thursday as Dustin Penner will get back in the lineup after a five-game absence.
Penner took part in the morning skate Wednesday and will make his return to the lineup Wednesday night. It will be his first game since Oct. 20, when he sustained a concussion on a hit by the Dallas Stars' Ryan Garbutt. Garbutt was suspended for five games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for the hit.
The Devils revealed Saturday there was more to that decision than a desire to get Brodeur into his first game since Oct. 17. Schneider is out with a lower-body injury and didn't even make the trip to his hometown. The projection for his return is up in the air.
"I don't know the answer to that. I think it's short-term, but I don't know," coach Peter DeBoer said after his team's morning skate.
BOSTON -- The San Jose Sharks will play the second game of their five-game road trip Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
They're expected to have one new face in their lineup for the game, but they had a familiar face join them for their morning skate for the first time in a little while.
Mike Brown, who was acquired in trade with the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, is expected to make his Sharks debut Thursday, according to coach Todd McLellan. Defenseman Dan Boyle, who has missed three games with an upper-body injury and didn't travel with the team for the start of the road trip, skated with the Sharks on Thursday. McLellan said Boyle won't play against the Bruins, but there was no holding Boyle back from accelerating his recovery.
That's given the players some time to practice and make community appearances, and it freed up some time for coach Claude Julien to prepare for a visit by the Colorado Avalanche -- in more ways than one.
Julien was asked Thursday after his team's morning skate if the time off gave him a chance to think about the Olympics. Julien is scheduled to be an assistant coach for Team Canada.
"Yeah, the Olympics," he said. "And then I spent the last couple of days solidifying the glass between the benches."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins searched for most of the season and the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs for third-line production and rarely got it.
This season, they're plan was to rectify that. Although an injury to Carl Soderberg changed the formation of the Bruins' third line prior to the Thursday's season opener, Jordan Caron joined center Chris Kelly and right wing Reilly Smith to form a group that was strong at both ends of the rink in the 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With Soderberg still out with an ankle injury, that trio figures to be together again against the Detroit Red Wings Saturday at TD Garden.
"They've got to be able to generate some stuff, some scoring opportunities, which is what we talked about last year about trying to find with our third line," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team's morning skate. "So right now, they've given us that. I thought last game they spent some time in the offensive zone. I thought they did a great job forechecking and creating some things."
BOSTON -- It's finally time for the Boston Bruins to unleash their much-hyped offseason acquisitions Thursday, as the Bruins will host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden in the season opener for both clubs.
It'll be important for the Bruins' new top two lines to forge early chemistry.
"I think we feel pretty good out there," Eriksson said after the Bruins' morning skate. "We've been having lot of practices together and we played a few [preseason] games together too. So I think everyone is excited to get going here and start playing."
BOSTON -- Although the Boston Bruins' run to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final made for an abbreviated offseason, Zdeno Chara's summer mostly was uneventful.
The 36-year-old defenseman said he stuck to his same offseason workout regimen, despite rehabilitating a hip-pointer injury. He still refuses to speak about the injury or admit it hindered his performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Chara also mixed in plenty of family time and a brief vacation in Florida. However, even when relaxing Chara couldn't escape a little modern-day controversy. As a devoted friend to and Slovakian Olympic teammate of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, Chara agreed to attend his countryman's Cup championship celebration party.
No one should think that Chara completely enjoyed that experience.
BOSTON -- A few weeks of skating on his own and a couple days participating in informal skates with his teammates couldn't tell Gregory Campbell if he was ready to go all-out in Boston Bruins training camp.
He had to just do it, and Thursday at TD Garden the veteran center was on his usual line with wings Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton during the team's second on-ice session of the afternoon.
Coach Claude Julien said the trio that's been a staple of the Bruins' lineup for three seasons looked solid as usual, but Campbell was a tougher critic as far as his own performance. It was the first time he took part in a formal NHL practice since he broke his leg in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final last season.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins’ depth up the middle might be tested at the start of training camp as veteran centers Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell continue to recover from injuries incurred during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Bergeron famously played through a broken rib, injured rib cartilage, punctured lung and separated shoulder in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Just as famously, Campbell broke his leg in the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins and had to have surgery.
Both players took their physical exams and went through off-ice testing with their teammates at TD Garden on Wednesday. Also, both might be limited when on-ice sessions start Thursday.
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has a Norris Trophy, several All-Star Game appearances and a Stanley Cup championship on his resume. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound blueliner is widely regarded as the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL.
So that he was on the ice for 10 of the Chicago Blackhawks' last 12 goals over the course of the last three games of the Stanley Cup Final was a major shock. There had to be a physical reason for Chara's struggles.
"Well, it's a tough one, for sure," Ference said Monday after the Bruins morning skate. "I've been on both sides, where I had a chance to win in Game 6 and didn't and ended up losing, and then vice versa. It's a difficult game to win. At this point of the series there's no secrets between each other. Everybody knows the stakes and what you're going to get out of each other. And it's just a matter of that razor-thin line of success or defeat. It just depends on individual performances and small little details, that if you're showing up for your first hockey game tonight you wouldn't be able to see. But everybody in the room knows what they have to do and you hope that's enough to put you over the edge."
BOSTON -- With nine goals allowed in the past two games, eight with a goaltender in the crease, the Boston Bruins defense has been much leakier than it had been previously in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So as they try to avoid elimination Monday in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), the Bruins are going to have to do a better job of containing some of the Chicago Blackhawks' best players, including Patrick Kane.
Kane has scored three goals in the past two games.
"Well, it takes an extreme amount of awareness of everybody on the ice," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said after his team's morning skate. "Our defensive game relies on a five-man unit picking up their assignments and just being ultra-aware of positioning and where the threats are. So like I said, you're not asking anybody to do anything that they've never done before. Everybody knows what it takes. We've played against some pretty amazing offensive players and teams, and I think you're asking everybody to play defensively to the potential that they've shown."
Rookie Carl Soderberg wore a merlot-colored sweater along with Shawn Thornton and Rich Peverley during the 35-minute session in preparation for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. EST, NBC, CBC, RDS). The rest of the Bruins lines remained the same from Game 4.
The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2.
"Just trying something else here," Julien said before boarding the bus in front of a throng of fans outside the Garden. "Again, I'll make that decision [Saturday]. But just get a different look at what that would look like, that's all."
BOSTON -- In a 6-5 game, there were obviously plenty of offensive chances players cashed in during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at TD Garden.
However, two Boston Bruins forwards missed great opportunities to turn the game in their club's favor. Instead the Bruins fell to the Chicago Blackhawks and now the teams head to the Windy City for Game 5 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) at United Center with the best-of-7 series tied 2-2.
Boston's Chris Kelly hit the left post with enough room in the net to fit a St. Bernard in the closing minute of the second period with the Bruins trailing 4-3. Rich Peverley had just threaded a cross-ice pass to his linemate.
The goal horn sounded, but play continued.
"No, I knew I didn't score. But the horn kind of threw me," Kelly said Thursday on his team's off day at the Garden. "I thought the period was over. And then I looked up and I think there was 40 seconds left. But no, it didn't throw me off to think I had scored. I knew I didn't score."
With their relentless team defense, the Bruins are shutting down another of the League's elite offensive teams.
After a bit of a blip in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, when they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in triple overtime, the Bruins have allowed one goal in their last two games to take the series lead heading into Game 4 Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) at TD Garden.
The Bruins' suffocating defense mostly has carried over from the Eastern Conference Final, when Boston limited the Pittsburgh Penguins to just two goals in four games. The Penguins had been averaging more than four goals per game entering that series.
BOSTON -- The lanky, athletic figure came around the corner just seconds after you heard the final clanks of the bottom of his crutches hitting the waxed floor.
Once Gregory Campbell, with his surgically repaired right leg elevated and half protected by a plastic brace, made it to the front of the TD Garden elevators Monday morning, those waiting to go up just a couple floors were reminded what real toughness is.
Most then decided to walk up the steps while the Boston Bruins center waited. After all, everyone looks like a wimp when standing next to the guy famous for playing more than 50 seconds of a penalty kill with a broken leg.
Campbell has been out of the lineup with a broken right fibula ever since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last Monday he underwent surgery for the damage Evgeni Malkin's slap shot caused in that dramatic Bruins win.
As they prepared for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks with the series tied 1-1, the Bruins were visited by Campbell for the first time since his surgery.
BOSTON -- While Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien had to do some juggling with his bottom-six forwards during his teams Game 2 overtime win Saturday in Chicago, at least he was able to keep his top-two lines together in their usual alignment.
Prior to the second game of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, it looked like Julien might've had to start the game with a new top six because of Nathan Horton's injury status. Not only did Horton play, he performed well enough to stay in his usual spot on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Horton logged 21:29 of ice time.
Horton, Krejci and Lucic figure to again be together when the Bruins host Game 3 of the Cup Final Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS) at TD Garden.
Now, the left wing not only is heading to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Boston Bruins, he seemingly is part of their top 12 forwards in the aftermath of Gregory Campbell's broken fibula sustained in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The 24-year-old said he feels blessed he was plucked off the waiver wire by Boston on March 27.
"Well, obviously I was lucky to get out of there [Ottawa] and come to a great organization, and I wasn't thinking this far," Daugavins said after the Bruins practiced at TD Garden on Monday. "Like at the time, I was just hoping to get some ice time and play and prove that I can be in this League. And we picked up in the playoffs, so it's awesome. It's like a big bonus right now."
With Campbell out for the remainder of the postseason, it's likely Daugavins will continue to fill Campbell's spot when the Cup Final begins Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
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."
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).
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
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."
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.
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."
BOSTON -- While most of the Boston Bruins players were kept off the ice Monday, two days after their series-clinching win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, injured defenseman Andrew Ference skated with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides at TD Garden.
Ference has not played since Game 5 of the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Ference has been skating for a few days.
"He's obviously on the mend, but not ready to say he's ready to go yet," Julien said during a press conference Monday.
BOSTON – For the first time in Tuukka Rask's NHL career, the goaltender has taken the Boston Bruins past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Of course, this is the second season in which Rask has served as the Bruins' No. 1 goalie.
Rask, 26, seems to be getting better as the playoffs roll along, opposed to the way he struggled deeper into the postseason back in 2010. In the five-game series victory against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rask compiled a .936 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average.
The Finnish goaltender seemed to place a smart bet on himself last summer when he signed a one-year contract with Boston. He’ll be a restricted free agent again this summer, seemingly raising his value every night this postseason.
General manager Peter Chiarelli, whose team will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals, said he has no regrets about letting Rask play on a one-year deal.
"I'm happy for him that he's playing well and he's helping the team," Chiarelli said during a press conference Sunday at TD Garden. "It’s always easier to sign these guys after success. He's showing some resiliency, which I like, and some durability, which I like."
General manager Peter Chiarelli described his team's overall health as "pretty good" during a press conference Sunday at TD Garden. And by the time the Bruins start the series, they might be even healthier.
"We’ve got Andrew out, he's making progress. Wade is close, if not ready," Chiarelli said. "Just the bumps and bruises are minor. We got Dennis back. We're in pretty good shape right now, knock on wood."
Several times early in the Rangers’ series-extending 4-3, Game 4 overtime win against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday, New York’s energy players tried to coax some of Boston’s tougher players to fight, to no avail.
Bruins coach Claude Julien expects that to continue, at least until Boston is in need of a spark.
“I think it was pretty clear. I said it even on TV there between those timeouts: The guys on my fourth line, to me, aren’t worth the trade off with their fourth line right now,” Julien said after the Bruins prepared for Game 5 with a practice Friday at TD Garden. “Those guys are pretty valuable players for us. So whichever way they see their players, I certainly don’t want to see one of mine necessarily in the penalty box with one of theirs, because it plays to their advantage.”
BOSTON -- Often a weakness the past several seasons, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins' power play has become a driving force for the team that leads the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the New York Rangers, 3-1, heading into Game 5 on Saturday at TD Garden (5:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
The Bruins are 3-for-9 with the man-advantage, led by rookie defenseman Torey Krug. The playoff call-up from Providence of the American Hockey League has scored two of those three goals.
"I think that we're just not passing up those good opportunities," Krug said after practice Friday at TD Garden. "You'd see sometimes in the past we'd be passing the puck and we'd want to make that extra pass. But this time, we're shooting pucks, we're getting pucks to the net, and guys are taking away Henrik's [Lundqvist] ice."
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg continued to progress toward a return from an undisclosed injury during practice Friday at TD Garden.
The Bruins were on the ice for about 30 minutes the afternoon after they lost to the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, failing to sweep.
"It went better again," said Seidenberg, who was injured in Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. "But now it's still day to day. I have to talk to the doctors and trainers and consult with them and go from there."
Injured defenseman Wade Redden also skated with the team.
Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn't reveal how close either blueliner was to getting back into the lineup for Game 5 Saturday (5:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) or beyond.
"[They] skated today. I keep telling guys they're progressing every day. That's why you see them on the ice," Julien said.
Only defenseman Andrew Ference, who hasn't played since Game 5 of the first round, wasn't on the ice. The forward lines remained the same.
The Bruins, who lead the series 2-0 heading into Game 3 on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), have killed all eight Rangers power plays. In the first round, Boston killed 16 of 21 Maple Leafs man-advantages, for a 76.2-percent success rate
Despite their 100-percent efficiency rate in the second round, the Bruins see room for improvement as they try to prevent the Rangers from emerging from their 2-for-36 slump.
"I think it's better. We've got to keep that going," center Patrice Bergeron said. "They're moving the puck well, so we have to make sure we keep having some good sticks and staying in the shooting lanes and being aggressive on them. If we give them time, they have the players to make the plays."
Injured defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden both joined the team for practice at TD Garden on Monday. Julien said both players will be game-day decisions for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
The Bruins lead the series 1-0, and won Game 1 without Redden, Seidenberg or Andrew Ference in the lineup. Julien said that Redden and Seidenberg skated on their own. Ference has not skated since he was injured in Game 5 of the Bruins' first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Redden practiced with the Bruins on Saturday, but was limited in what he could do. Seidenberg skated on his own Saturday.
BOSTON -- Even as they take a 1-0 series lead into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers on Sunday (3 p.m., NBC, TSN, RDS), the Boston Bruins are still searching for secondary scoring.
And if it's up to Shawn Thornton, the Bruins' energy line will be supplementing the offense a bit more as this series unfolds.
"I'm still waiting for us to try and chip in," Thornton said prior to Game 2 at TD Garden. "We've talked about it. And we've been close; we've had a ton of chances we're not putting in right now. It would be nice to maybe take some of the pressure off some of the big boys with a couple of goals from our line."
He also knows if he's not careful and gets back into the Boston Bruins lineup too soon, he could leave his team shorthanded at the most important time of the year.
"You've got to be honest with yourself, and it comes down to that," Redden said Saturday after practicing with the Bruins at TD Garden. "Everyone wants to be out there, but it's got to be the right way and you could go out there and you're not able to do what you need to do, you're only hurting the team. So you've got to be able to get it done. Obviously guys play through a lot of stuff. There's a line there."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said Redden, who sat out the past two games with an undisclosed injury, will be a game-time decision for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN, RDS). Redden missed Games 5 and 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before sitting out Game 1 against the Rangers on Thursday.
Redden said he was limited during practice Saturday and wasn't able to do everything in the drills.
BOSTON – The Boston Bruins’ three injured veteran defensemen are at different stages of recovery from their undisclosed injuries on their way to returning to the lineup.
Wade Redden, who hasn’t played since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, practiced with the team Saturday, although he said he wasn’t able to do everything in drills. He said he doesn’t feel well enough to play in a game yet, but coach Claude Julien is hoping that might change by Sunday.
The Bruins play host to the New York Rangers on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, RDS, TSN) in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden.
BOSTON -- With two days off between the Game 1 win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Game 2 on Sunday, the Boston Bruins are hopeful at least one of their injured veteran defensemen will be able to heal up in time to get back in the lineup.
"A little early to say," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Friday. "Again, it is two days, and two days in the playoffs makes a big difference as far as getting guys back. There's a possibility, that much I can say. Whether they will or not is too early to say right now."
"I don't know if I'd call it nostalgia, but I spent a lot of time in New York. It was eight years of my life and my family was there, my sisters graduated high school there, and it was an area that we called home," Campbell said Friday, less than 24 hours removed from the Bruins' 3-2, Game 1 overtime win.
"I've moved around a lot in my life, and New York is a good place to grow up, and I got to see the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in '94. So amazingly enough there are still some people there that were there when my dad was there. So, of course, there will always be a soft spot for me for that team and that city. It's a city much like Boston, they're very passionate as you know, and it's a good place to play hockey."
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was right to be pessimistic Thursday morning about having any of his injured defenseman in the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers (NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"They weren't on the ice this morning. Doesn't look good," Julien said after his team's morning skate at TD Garden.
BOSTON -- The sight of forward Brad Marchand leaving the ice early Thursday during the Boston Bruins' morning skate was the last thing the organization needed to see.
Marchand pulled up lame during a 2-on-1 drill with center Patrice Bergeron and went to the dressing room with the trainer while the rest of the team continued to prepare for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
After the skate, coach Claude Julien wasn't worried about Marchand’s availability.
"He'll be fine. He'll be there tonight," Julien said.
BOSTON -- If earning status as a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward wasn't enough of a compliment for Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, teammate Jaromir Jagr paid Bergeron another one after practice at TD Garden on Wednesday.
"I think Ronnie Francis was the same way," Jagr said of Bergeron. "He wasn't very flashy. He scored a lot of goals but not the highlights goals. And he did everything perfect, especially defensively. The GMs and the coaches, they know. And it doesn't mean the media doesn't talk about him much. People who are close to hockey and understand hockey, they know how special he is. So it's all right."
BOSTON -- With a little more than 24 hours before the start of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New York Rangers on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), the Boston Bruins practiced without three of their regular defensemen Wednesday at TD Garden.
BOSTON -- At the conclusion of the regular season, the Boston Bruins had the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Bruins were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in road record.
So it's not a surprise that home-ice advantage has meant little to the teams in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals through five games. The Bruins, who lead the series 3-2 heading into Game 6 Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS), won the two games played in Toronto. The Maple Leafs are 2-1 on Boston's home ice.
"I guess you often think that it [home ice] should work to your advantage, but somehow it hasn't in this series and it's really hard to explain why," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team's optional practice Saturday. "I think both teams are playing hard, and besides talking about [Game 5] game again, we've played extremely well in Toronto and they've played pretty well in our building, as well. I don't know what it is as a coach, not the players, but we hope that trend continues [Sunday]."
BOSTON -- Wade Redden waited four years to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so only something serious could force him to miss a game.
"Yeah, it was pretty much an obvious thing," the Boston Bruins defenseman said Saturday after he took part in an optional practice at TD Garden. "But like I said, it's turned the corner. So, you know, obviously games are coming quick, so that's a good sign."
Redden missed the Bruins' Game 5 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Friday. His status for Game 6 Sunday in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS), where the Bruins will try for a second time to end the series, will be determined on the day of the game; Bruins coach Claude Julien classified Redden as day-to-day. Redden said he felt pretty good after skating Saturday.
BOSTON -- For the second time in the Boston Bruins' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins juggled their defensive alignment because of a lineup change.
Coach Claude Julien on Friday morning said defenseman Wade Redden was injured and he is not playing Game 5 of the team's Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday (CBC, RDS, NHLN-US). The Bruins lead the series 3-1 and are trying to advance to the next round with a victory.
Redden had a goal and an assist in Game 1, and is a plus-2 with two shots on goal in four games.
Van Riemsdyk was part of the Philadelphia Flyers team that rallied from a 3-0 deficit in 2010 to beat the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The mentality the Flyers used while making history might apply now to the Maple Leafs, who trail the Bruins 3-1 in the teams' first-round series entering Game 5 Friday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NHLN-US).
In non-Game 7 situations where the Bruins have had a chance to put a team away under coach Claude Julien, the Bruins are 3-6.
"Again, it's just not looking at the grand scheme of things," van Riemsdyk said after his team's morning skate. "You just want to take it, kind of compartmentalize it and take it one game at a time and go from there. That's what we're going to have to do [in Game 5], is just look at the here and now. Today's game, treat it as one individual thing and then just go from there."
With Mark Fraser on the mend because of surgery to repair facial fractures, the Maple Leafs are expected to reinsert veteran John-Michael Liles in their lineup. Liles has been scratched since Game 1.
BOSTON -- At first it looked like the Boston Bruins might've paid a steeper price than they wanted to in order to win Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.
However, Bruins forward Nathan Horton was able to skate off the ice under his own power while David Krejci beat the Maple Leafs with a goal in overtime that put the Bruins ahead in the best-of-7 series, 3-1, heading into Game 5 on Friday at TD Garden (7 p.m. NHLN-US, CBC, RDS).
Horton was as jovial as usual Thursday morning after reporting to the Garden for an optional practice he and the rest of the Bruins' regulars passed on.
"I feel good," Horton said. "It's obviously a big win for us. I think everybody feels good today. But we know the job's not done. The last one's always the hardest."
So far, through two games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jagr is without a point and has only four shots on net and a minus-2 rating tarnishing his resume.
With the series, tied at one game each, now shifting to Toronto for Game 3 and 4, the Bruins need Jagr -- and his current linemates, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly -- to produce. That production would be easier to come by if Jagr was at top of his game. After practice Sunday at TD Garden, coach Claude Julien mentioned the possibility Jagr still isn't totally healthy after a flu bug that cost him the final two games of the regular season.
"I think there's a lot of things that come into play here. No. 1, he came, as you know, at the Trade Deadline, he missed the last couple of games, he's never had the same linemates," said Julien, whose team will play Game 3 on Monday night. "To his defense, it's important to have some cohesion with your linemates and stuff like that, and our first two lines have been pretty, I guess, been together for a long time. They're playing well, they're generating stuff, so right now it's about trying to build some chemistry with some players and we keep trying to find players to complement him a little bit.
BOSTON -- Despite the Boston Bruins' best efforts to keep everything secret, they can't hide the fact Andrew Ference will not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Ference was suspended by the NHL for one game Thursday for a hit during the Bruins' 4-1 win in Game 1 (7 pm. ET, CBC, RDS, CNBC, NESN).
Regardless who goes into Ference's lineup spot -- and all indications are it'll be rookie Dougie Hamilton -- the other five defensemen will have to adjust, and some might see their minutes increased.
Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, Boston's shutdown pair in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will probably be separated. It appears Seidenberg will shift back to his strong side, the left, and play with right-shooting Johnny Boychuk. Adam McQuaid will stay on the right side and be paired with Chara.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After he was a healthy scratch for one of 48 games in the regular season, Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley didn't expect to be sat out of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Maybe the only perk of his situation was that Peverley got to watch the Bruins' 4-1 win Wednesday from a prime viewing area.
"We have a lot of depth on this team. And whatever which way it takes to win the game, that was, from watching that game, that was one of the best games we played all year," Peverley said after practice Friday here at Ristuccia Arena. "We were talking, the guys up there. That was fun to watch. So whatever it was, we did a great job, and let's just focus on winning."
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- With the one-game suspension the NHL assessed to defenseman Andrew Ference on Thursday, the Boston Bruins know they will have to play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS) without the player who ranked fourth on the team in ice time during the regular season at 19:29 per game.
The Bruins returned to the ice for practice Friday here at Ristuccia Arena after taking a day off Thursday. While coach Claude Julien wouldn't commit to any set lineup the day before facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 2, he split up his playoff shut-down pair of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg for the session. Chara skated with Adam McQuaid while Seidenberg worked with Ference's usual partner, Johnny Boychuk, during 5-on-5 drills.
"We mix and match a lot of times," Julien said. "So that's not an issue."
BOSTON -- The core of the Boston Bruins has been together long enough to know Game 1 victories do not equal series triumphs.
Last season, the Bruins won Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals but lost the series in seven games. The Bruins lost Game 1 three times on their way to winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
So although they didn't skate Thursday, the Bruins know the time off was for rest not reward for winning Game 1 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. As coach Claude Julien said, because there’s nothing celebrate yet.
Game 2 is Saturday at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).
"That's how it should be. You can't be looking back," defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. "You can look and learn from what happened, but you have to put it behind you and focus in on this next game because that's all you should be focusing in on. If you're looking back at what's passed or before, you're not worrying about what’s happening now."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins always have counted on their fourth line, affectionately known as the "Merlot Line," for more than just physicality and energy.
While the trio of Gregory Campbell centering Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton has been as tough as they come since being put together during the 2010-11 season, all three players have shown flashes of skill worthy of playing above their spot on the depth chart.
Those skills were on display more during the 2012-13 season because Campbell and Paille were forced to play on other lines for stretches because of injuries. But reunited with Thornton for the start of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the trio showed its offensive bent Wednesday in setting up the Bruins' first goal in their 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
"Obviously when me and [Campbell] were able to play with other players, it just gives you a lot more confidence to do what you have to do," Paille said Thursday. "And when we come back and play together, I think we just realize we can play when we need to and we want to continue to not only play our role and do the simple things, but we want to help out as much as we can like we do."
Bozak, who missed the last two games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury, will play against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday in Game 1 of the teams' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (7:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).
"We wouldn't put a player back into this situation unless he was 100-percent healthy," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "He's told us that he's 100-percent healthy, so we expect him to perform to his capabilities. I'm sure there's players on the Boston hockey club that have bumps and bruises that are not any different. So to sum it all up, he's going to play his role."
The return to health of forwards Nathan Horton (upper body) and Jagr (flu) has forced Bruins coach Claude Julien to make some difficult lineup decisions. While it's not surprising that late-season Swedish import Carl Soderberg probably will sit out, Julien's decision to sit Peverley, a veteran of the 2011 Cup championship team who skated in all but one regular-season game in 2012-13, is a bit of a shock.
The Bruins will need Kelly's line to produce if they hope to field a balanced, three-line offensive attack against a high-scoring Maple Leafs squad.
BOSTON – The Boston Bruins will finish a string of three straight games against teams that aren’t going to be in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden on Thursday.
The Bruins are 1-1-0 during this stretch, where they’ve found out just how hard the non-contenders are competing even with little more than pride on the line. Considering his team’s disappointing performance in a 5-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien knows his team cannot take anyone lightly.
“It’s a team that played, I thought, a really good game [Wednesday] night,” Julien said of the Lightning. “I watched them play, and I think you just have to look around at the schedule the other night, all the playoff-seeded teams, almost every one of them except for Washington, lost. So it goes to show you teams aren’t giving up. They’re coming out and playing some solid hockey. When you know you’ve only got 'X' number of games left and you want to finish on a positive note, you play your best. And that’s what we should expect from Tampa [on Thursday] night.”
The Bruins are almost completely healthy, with only Nathan Horton battling an injury. Julien said Horton skated Thursday morning but he is still day-to-day and will not face the Lightning.
The game with Tampa Bay will be Horton’s third game missed since he was injured against the Pittsburgh Penguins last Saturday.
Tampa Bay did not hold a morning skate after flying in from Tampa after a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid also will sit out against Florida. McQuaid left the game Saturday in the second period with a lower-body injury after a hit from Penguins forward Matt Cooke. McQuaid played the third period, but Julien said the blueliner also is day-to-day.
Rookie Dougie Hamilton and veteran forward Milan Lucic, who were healthy scratches Saturday, are expected to be in the lineup against Florida.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will look to snap their two-game losing streak Monday against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden, and they'll have at least one player back in their lineup after a short absence.
Rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton is expected to play after resting the last two games. Hamilton has played around 80 games dating back to last May in international competition, junior and the NHL.
"Obviously, just playing so much, it kind of feels like the end of the year, which it is," Hamilton said after the Bruins' morning skate. "But I think just to get a rest, I guess, mentally most of all, just to get away from playing and to be able to come back and kind of it feels like junior a little bit when you get the week off and then you go back and play on the weekends. So I think hopefully I didn't get too rusty over the couple days. But I think I feel good, so I'm pretty happy."
If Marchand, who was elbowed in the head by New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov on Wednesday night, is unable to play against the New York Islanders, the Bruins will be missing two-thirds of what’s been their most productive forward line this season.
Patrice Bergeron has been out since suffering a concussion April 2. He skated with the Bruins’ scratches during an optional morning skate at TD Garden. Tyler Seguin had been the other member of that line.
The Bruins should have Adam McQuaid back in the lineup for the first time since March 19, when he strained his shoulder.
Here are the projected lineups for the Bruins and Islanders:
BOSTON -- While there's still no news, positive or negative, pertaining to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron's status after he suffered a concussion last week, the team should be healthier Monday when it faces the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
Coach Claude Julien said he expects center Chris Kelly, who has been out since March 11 with a broken tibia, to return to the lineup. Kelly took part in an optional morning skate and has been practicing with the team for about a week.
"I feel good and it'll be nice to get back," Kelly said.
The Bruins juggled their lines Sunday for practice.
Here's a look at the projected lineups for the Bruins and Hurricanes:
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators have played three one-goal games this season and woke up Tuesday seeded fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.
So any thoughts about the trade deadline Wednesday has to be on the back burner.
“I’m sure it is for every team in the League a little bit,” Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said about potential distractions after his team’s morning skate at TD Garden. “But our goal is to keep an upbeat locker room and whatever happens, happens. We can’t control that, obviously. I like everybody we have here. We like the situation we’re in here with more players getting closer to returning from injuries and joining us on trips. So even if we don’t do anything, we’re still going to have some nice additions.”
Ottawa is starting a seven-game road trip. The Bruins lead the Senators by four points in the Eastern standings and have won the prior three meetings between the teams.
BOSTON -- The Florida Panthers will take the ice Thursday against the Boston Bruins with the fewest points in the Eastern Conference and a four-game losing streak.
Now here's the bad news:
Panthers coach Kevin Dineen announced after his team's morning skate at TD Garden that forward Kris Versteeg will have season-ending knee surgery. Versteeg, Florida's third-leading scorer last season, he has played in 10 games this season. He was playing his third game back from a prior injury when he was hit by Radko Gudas of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Versteeg left the game and did not return.
McQuaid is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien. McQuaid blocked a shot with his hand Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he returned to play the third period.
Although he didn't skate with his teammates at TD Garden, McQuaid took the ice after the Bruins' morning skate.
BOSTON -- The Bruins' seven-game win streak against the Toronto Maple Leafs is amazingly the longest the Boston franchise has had against its Original Six brother from the north.
That Toronto enters Thursday night's game at TD Garden one point behind Boston in the Eastern Conference, and riding a three-game winning streak, tells the Bruins that the Maple Leafs are a different team than the one it has handled easily the past couple seasons.
A glance at the fighting-major leaderboard, which features the Maple Leafs on top, also sends the Bruins a message that they're going to have their hands full.
"They've obviously got a big lineup and guys who can definitely take care of business," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said after an unusually aggressive morning skate. "With saying that, regardless of that fact, they've also been playing a good team game and been able to put pucks in the back of the net as well. So I think there's confidence up and down their lineup, from top to bottom, and you can see that in their play of late."
BOSTON -- Sunday's game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden is more than just a showdown between the teams tied for the most points in the Eastern Conference standings.
It's also the return of forward Michael Ryder for the first time since he won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Bruins then left for the Dallas Stars as a free agent. Ryder, acquired by the Canadiens in a trade last week, didn't play in Boston last season.
BOSTON -- One year to the day since Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner recorded his only NHL shutout at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins, he will get a chance to repeat that feat.
Lehner is scheduled to make his Senators season debut Thursday against the Bruins, coach Paul MacLean confirmed after his team's morning skate. This season with Binghamton of the American Hockey League, Lehner posted a 2.12 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
"Robin's had a very successful season in the American Hockey League and he's played very well in the National Hockey League last season when he played," MacLean said. "He played here and he played well. And those are a lot of the factors that go into it. The fact that he's played very well this year in the American League gives us a lot of confidence."
To date the Bruins have played the fewest games in the NHL with 16 (they're 12-2-2). After putting their season-high four-game winning streak on the line against the Senators, they'll play 17 games in March.
"I think rest is definitely going to be a big thing, making sure you're not too active away from the rink," forward Chris Bourque said after the Bruins' morning skate at TD Garden, "kind of taking it easy, whereas in a regular schedule you might go out with the family, hang out, go to the mall or something or go for a walk. You'll spend a lot more time on the couch, that kind of stuff. Just getting the proper rest and hydration all that sort of stuff is going to be key, I think."
So that means another healthy scratch for Boston native Brian Boyle, who is scheduled to sit out his third straight game.
"I'm trying not to think about anything, really, honestly," said Boyle, who was bag skated by assistant coach Mike Sullivan along with fellow scratches Stu Bickel and Steve Eminger after the Rangers' morning skate at TD Garden. "I'm just trying to come work every day and work as hard as I can because it's ... I've said it before, I didn't play as well as I think I could've, but I know I can be a good player and effective player in this League and on this team. It's infuriating sitting out, it's awful. And it's [ticking] me off a lot."
BOSTON -- Back on the ice for the Boston Bruins one day after sitting out practice due to a maintenance day, Tyler Seguin was back in a familiar spot, one he hadn't been in for a short while, during line rushes Tuesday at TD Garden.
That switch paid off in Montreal, as the newly formed Seguin-Krejci-Lucic top line scored goals on its first two shifts to lead the way to victory. Just because the lines reverted to their old form during the morning skate, however, doesn't mean coach Claude Julien won't shuffle things if his team needs another spark Tuesday against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
BOSTON – The Buffalo Sabres team that will take the ice Thursday at TD Garden is much different than the one the Boston Bruins beat four times in six tries last season.
In an effort to improve their toughness and physical play, the Sabres added forwards Steve Ott and John Scott during the offseason. Plenty was written and discussed about how the Sabres did not respond last season when Boston forward Milan Lucic ran into Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller during a Nov. 12 contest.
To Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, last year was last year, and he’s more concerned with his team doing what it needs to end a four-game losing streak. That includes his team exercising its newfound physicality as part of an all-round game.
“You try to win the puck battles. You try to win the territorial battles. We have to win a game,” Ruff said after his team’s morning skate. “Not coming out of here with points is not being successful. We need points. In a short season you need points. We’ve answered the physical challenge. We’ve been there for each other from Day One in this. And we’ve played a gritty style, we’ve played a hitting style. We have to win games.
“We dealt with last year. We had a game where [Paul] Gaustad fought with Lucic. [Robyn] Regehr fought [Zdeno] Chara. We played a couple great games against them and came away with points. Hockey’s about winning the game. It’s about winning the mental battle, but winning the physical battle. It’s about winning the territorial battle. If you win those, you give yourself a chance to win.”
In Ott, the Sabres have the perfect foil for the Bruins. His rivalry with Boston goes back to a 2008 fight-filled game between the Dallas Stars and Boston, which featured Ott being ejected. In February 2011, Ott and Boston center Gregory Campbell fought one second into a game to settle a grudge from their junior careers.
Ott doesn’t plan on going out of his way to do more than just what it takes to make up some ground on Buffalo’s Northeast Division rivals.
“Team toughness is within. You don’t have to go out there and drop the gloves every five minutes to prove how tough you are,” Ott said. “I think toughness comes from the locker room. Every guy in here, when you have each other’s back and you play a tough team to play against, I think that’s where you bring your team toughness. And I think that’s more where the focus is, and winning the game.”
Although Claude Julien attributed it to Chris Bourque’s struggles through the Bruins’ first six games, the Bruins coach revealed he will insert of tough guy Lane MacDermid for his season debut in place of Bourque. Rugged defenseman Adam McQuaid is also scheduled to be back in Boston’s lineup.
Boston has points in five straight to start the season, and New Jersey has done the same in its first four contests.
For two Devils, however, the Eastern Conference showdown should be a little more important than for others. Rookie Stefan Matteau will try to make one last impression on the team's brass to stay in the NHL for the duration of this season, and Matt Anderson is scheduled to make his NHL debut at 30 years old.
After the Devils' morning skate, coach Pete DeBoer confirmed Matteau would start the night on New Jersey's first line with Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk.
"We want to give him the best opportunity we can," DeBoer said about Matteau, who will either stick with the Devils or go back to juniors after this game.
Anderson was recalled from Albany (American Hockey League) on Thursday. With Albany, he totaled 20 points (7 goals) in 39 games this season.
"Having watched him on tape," DeBoer said, "especially early this year, he brings speed, he's a smart player and hopefully we can help us."
Johan Hedberg will make his first start in net of the season for the Devils.
The Bruins, who are playing the second half of a back-to-back for the first time this season, did not hold a full morning skate. Adam McQuaid, who missed Monday night's win at the Carolina Hurricanes to attend his grandmother's funeral, returned to the team and is available to play.
Seidenberg has missed the Bruins' last two games due to a lower-body injury. He skated Friday morning and has been on the ice a couple times between games this week.
"Something like that can happen to a guy that's in the best shape of his life," Seidenberg, who was one of 12 Bruins to play overseas during the lockout, said. "So it's not anything you could've prevented. So you've just got to deal with it and try to get back."
With the Islanders playing the second half of back-to-back games, coach Jack Capuano has decided to give Rick DiPietro the start in goal in his hometown after Evgeni Nabokov beat Toronto on Thursday. It will be DiPietro's first start since Dec. 3, 2011.
BOSTON -- The injury bug has bitten the Boston Bruins for the first time in the shortened season.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg did not take part in the pregame skate and was not in the lineup for Monday afternoon's battle against the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden. Seidenberg's injury was classified as lower body and his status is day-to-day.
Aaron Johnson will make his Bruins debut in Seidenberg's place. Here are the projected lineups:
BOSTON – The years of trying to raise his team to prominence in Columbus are long over.
So are the months, or more, of dealing with trade rumors that seemed to follow him wherever the Blue Jackets went.
Now it’s time for Rick Nash, six months after he was dealt out of Columbus, to make his debut with the New York Rangers. Nash and his new club open the 2012-13 season Saturday night at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins.
“It’ll be a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves,” Nash said after the Rangers’ morning skate. “It’s obviously taken longer because of the lockout. But I think the biggest feeling will be excitement, getting the excitement going and playing my first one as a Ranger.”
When the Bruins open the 2013 season Saturday night against the New York Rangers at TD Garden, the legend’s son Chris should have just 1,517 to catch up to his pop.
The younger Bourque, with 33 NHL games over three seasons on his resume entering this season, joined the Bruins in a trade last summer. He earned a roster spot during Boston’s one-week training camp and should open the game against the Rangers on a line with center Chris Kelly and right winger Rich Peverley.
Bourque previously played one NHL regular-season game in the Garden – when he was with Pittsburgh in 2010.
“It was great obviously coming back playing in front of friends and family. It’s different when you’re the road team, you don’t to spend too much time around the city. It was a good experience. But I’m happy I’m on this side now,” he said after the Bruins’ morning skate.
Bourque anticipates at least 30-40 friends and family, from both the Boston area and Montreal, will be in the building using tickets he and his family secured. There should be plenty other people he knows on hand as well -- he grew up in Boston and attended Boston University for one season.
It’s been a long time since his earliest days hanging out with the Bruins.
“I grew up in this locker room here and the one that was in the building right next door that’s not here anymore,” he said. “So just skating on the ice before the team. Not wanting to get off but getting kicked off before practice, but coming in here and running around, probably pissing off all the trainers and that sort of stuff.”
Bourque and rookie Dougie Hamilton are set to make their debuts with the Bruins. Adam McQuaid, who underwent offseason surgery to treat a blood clot, has been medically cleared to play, according to coach Claude Julien.
BOSTON – Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron told reporters Friday that he played most of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with a strained or torn oblique muscle.
There has been no MRI yet and Bergeron probably will not require surgery.
The veteran said the injury occurred in Game 3 and a twist he made in the second period of Game 5 made it worse. Although his ice time didn't decrease in Games 6 and 7, Bergeron was limited in what he could do to try to prevent the Bruins from losing to Washington.
"Obviously faceoffs. I've done two of them and it was because I had no other choice, they were big faceoffs and we had no other centers on the ice," Bergeron, who won both of those late-game draws, said. "But I really couldn't do it, honestly. It was really painful. I couldn't reach out. Everything you do with reaching out, try to battle with being strong on the stick, I couldn't really do that. I couldn't get full speed. It's your core, so it's pretty much everything, so everything was affected by it."
The Bruins were not done with all their medical examinations as of Friday afternoon. Bruins forward Tyler Seguin might require surgery on a knuckle on his left hand. Forward Nathan Horton and defenseman Adam McQuaid, both of whom are dealing with concussions, are expected to make full recoveries, according to general manager Peter Chiarelli.
BOSTON -- Sometimes players perform better when they're surprised.
That's what Boston Bruins forward Jordan Caron found out Sunday, when he learned after warmup that he would be in the lineup for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Washington.
Caron, who hadn't played since April 7 in the Bruins' regular-season finale, made his NHL playoff debut in Boston's 4-3 overtime win. Luckily, over the course of his first full season in the NHL, he's gotten used to going long stretches where he's had to stay sharp even when he wasn't going to play.
"I think it's just a lot of it is mental. I think you just need to prepare even if you don't know if you're playing a lot. You've just got to be ready to jump in and do your job," Caron said Wednesday after the Bruins' morning skate.
Caron probably won't find out about his status for Game 7 until after warmup again. Caron and veteran forward Shawn Thornton, who was the healthy scratch in Game 6, rotated in on Boston's fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell during line drills at TD Garden.
In Game 6, Caron's ice time was limited to 4:56 and he and his linemates finished the afternoon with a minus-1 rating. But he threw a big hit that created a scoring chance for Campbell, and during his sporadic playing time he looked like the solid two-way player he was during his 48 games in the regular season. He finished the season with seven goals and 15 points, while skating time on pretty much all of Boston's four lines.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he spoke with Caron before the start of the series about being on-call.
"Well we talked to him before the series started, because I thought if anything, he was a real good player for us in that last stretch of the regular season. And it was tough to take him out but we went with some experienced guys, first and foremost," Julien said. "The one thing that we said to him -- we said you've got to stay ready because there's going to come a point where we're going to need you, and obviously we did last game."
While Julien would not disclose the reason he made a lineup change up front for the first time in the series, it's widely believed that Boston did not know how much it would get out of an injured Patrice Bergeron. Caron's skill set and versatility made him a better option for the Bruins if they needed someone to play up in the lineup.
The 21-year-old Caron impressed one of his veteran linemates.
"He did really good," Paille said. "Coming in there, stepping in for playing for Bergy possibly as well, I thought he did a good job. Other than getting scored against, I thought we created some opportunities early on. But he did good for his first game."
Once again, Caron will be ready should Julien have the equipment staff hang a No. 38 stall in the rookie's stall for Game 7.
"I think you just got to stay composed and take it as another game. Of course it's different, but you've got to forget about it, jump out there and be confident," Caron said. "I don't know if I'm going to be playing, but if I am I just got to stay calm and do my job."
BOSTON -- Bruins center Patrice Bergeron took the morning skate with his teammates Wednesday and skated in his usual lineup spot between wingers Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley, as the team prepared for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Capitals at TD Garden.
Bergeron did not practice Tuesday due to an undisclosed injury he's been battling through since the second period of Game 5 last Saturday. He played in the Bruins' win in Game 6 Sunday, but was off with the rest of his team Monday and then didn't hit the ice Tuesday. After practice Tuesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he had no concerns about Bergeron missing a game.
When asked if Bergeron would play in Game 7, Julien said: "Yes, I think so."
It's believed Bergeron's injury is of an upper-body nature because he was only able to take one faceoff in Game 6.
The rest of the Bruins' lines were the same as well. Julien will make a game-time decision between veteran Shawn Thornton and rookie Jordan Caron for the 12th forward position. Caron skated in Thornton's place in Game 6.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- When the stakes were their highest last June for Game 7, Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand came through to make sure his team was the one that raised the Stanley Cup in Vancouver.
Marchand, then a rookie, scored two goals in the final game of the Stanley Cup Final, as the Bruins won the third Game 7 of their historic run. So if anyone knows how to prepare for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Washington on Wednesday, it's Marchand.
"You just realize and continue to tell yourself that you're fighting for the Stanley Cup and that last effort. And you just leave it all on the ice," Marchand said after an hour-long practice at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday. "It's the same as [Wednesday]. It's either do or die, so we have to prepare the same way and realize that if we want another opportunity we have to win tomorrow."
After scoring 28 goals during his second NHL regular season, Marchand has been uncharacteristically quiet offensively through six games against the Capitals with just one goal and one assist. After he scored that goal and fired five shots on net in Game 5 on Saturday, he landed just two shots on goaltender Braden Holtby in a point-less effort Sunday in Game 6.
"I didn't have a ton offensively, but it was still a decent game. It really doesn't matter now. We won and that's all that matters," he said.
Marchand is one of a handful of Bruins who've played in multiple Game 7s but never lost. He's going to have to produce more like he did against Vancouver than he has against the Capitals to make sure that streak of success continues.
WILMINGTON, Mass. --Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron did not practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, where the team prepared for Wednesday's Game 7 against the Washington Capitals in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
Asked if he had any concerns Bergeron would not play in Game 7, Bruins coach Claude Julien replied, "None at all."
Bergeron was banged up in Game 5 last Saturday. He played Sunday in Game 6, but was limited to just one third-period faceoff after he finished second in the NHL in faceoff percentage during the regular season.
The Bruins did not practice Monday and Bergeron did not reveal what was ailing him during a media scrum to discuss his selection as a finalist for the Selke Trophy. In six games of this series, Bergeron has totaled two assists and an even plus/minus rating. In Game 6, he recorded an assist in 19:41 of ice time.
In six career Game 7s, Bergeron has recorded two goals and three points.
Bergeron was the only Bruins regular missing from practice.
BOSTON -- With a roster made up of mostly players who went 3-0 in Game 7 situations en route to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship, the Boston Bruins should be teeming with confidence heading into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Washington Wednesday.
"Last year's last year. I think we quickly realized that in October, when we went 3-7," center Chris Kelly said Monday. "In the same breath, it's nice to have played in Game 7s before to have that to reflect upon and look back on, but this is a whole new year and a whole new challenge, and one of those things that we're all looking forward to."
The Bruins did not skate Monday at TD Garden on the first of two off days before the series finale. The time off should give the Bruins opportunity to rest, especially center Patrice Bergeron, who's battling an upper-body injury that prevented him from taking more than one faceoff in Boston’s season-saving Game 6 victory Sunday.
The time off could also be an opportunity to drum up a whole bunch of emotions. But center Gregory Campbell says that last season taught him the correct approach to take when it comes to Game 7.
"I think for Game 7s, what I've learned so far in my short playoff career, is that it's got to be a balance," Campbell said. "You've got to be ready. Game 7s are usually most intense games because everything's on the line. But I think you've got to control your emotions and you have to walk that line where you're ready to go, your energy and enthusiasm is high, but you can make plays under pressure. Obviously it's a pressure-packed situation and it's usually the team that can make those plays and perform under pressure is the team that wins."
BOSTON -- Prior to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday, Bruins coach Claude Julien had to make a difficult decision about his lineup.
He hadn't changed any of his forwards through the first five games, but for Game 6 against Washington he opted to insert rookie Jordan Caron and sit out veteran Shawn Thornton.
"Well, it certainly wasn't related to play. It was related to a decision I had to make just before the game," Julien said Monday during his team's first off day prior to Game 7 on Wednesday. "Those are -- [it's] hard for me to give you that reason right now because it would probably open up a can of worms, so I'm going to leave it at that. It's certainly not because of Thornton's play; it's because of necessity."
It's assumed that Julien's "can of worms" refers to the injury Patrice Bergeron played through. The Bruins veteran center was second in the NHL in faceoff percentage during the regular season, but he only took one draw in Game 6. It's assumed Bergeron is battling through an upper-body injury from Game 6.
Based on the nature of the injury, Julien probably didn't know how much Bergeron would be able to give the Bruins in Game 6 and needed someone of Caron's skill set in the lineup instead of Thornton.
"He's a competitor and he's a really valuable player to our team. I know he handled the situation well, but I'm sure it's killing him to not be able to play," said Gregory Campbell, Thornton's frequent linemate. "We'll see what happens Wednesday. He's always ready."
BOSTON – The Boston Bruins skated with the same lines during the warmup before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday at TD Garden against Washington as they skated in practice Friday.
The new-look lines included a new union between left winger Daniel Paille, center Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley. Based on share of the Bruins’ offense (seven goals) through the first four games of the series, that trio could be considered Boston’s top line because it has accounted for three of the goals (two by Peverley, one by Paille).
Normally a fourth-line energy player on a unit with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton, Paille said before the game he didn’t want to change much in his game even though he was going to play on a more offense-minded unit.
“For me I think I’ve got to kind of stay the same way, especially in the playoffs here,” he said. “I find in the past I tried to change a little too much and kind of got off my game. So it’s best that I stay with what I’m doing best right now and keep that up.”
"Making line changes, that's a part of trying to find solutions and it's as simple as that," said Julien, whose team has scored just seven goals and is tied in the series at 2-2. "You've got to mix up guys who are not getting the results that we'd like to. So, you're trying to make changes that will maybe spark that part of our game."
Defensively, the Bruins have been as sound as the Capitals, who also have scored just seven goals. Only San Jose and Vancouver, two teams in unenviable 1-3 deficits in their series, have scored that few goals.
Last year, only injuries caused Julien to shuffle his lines even when the Bruins were struggling and fell into 0-2 series holes against Montreal and Vancouver. Nonetheless, most of the players said they weren't surprised at the changes, which may not even carry over into Game 5.
"I think maybe you try to jump start a little bit more offensive opportunities with certain guys. I think that's all that was," Kelly said. "I think the defensive part of the game has been good from everyone. By no means is this a scare tactic or a panic tactic ... I think it's just Claude weighing his options. He has lots of options in this locker room."
Peverley said: "It never hurts to have a little change, especially if we're not scoring goals. And we're not scoring enough, so we've done it earlier in the year and it worked. We won a couple games, so why not change?"
BOSTON – After playing nearly eight periods of hockey over the course of two of the last three days, the Boston Bruins held a team meeting and did some off-ice work instead of practicing on the ice as a group Sunday.
Rask, who is still working on getting up to full strength after injuring his groin in early March, will travel with the Bruins to Washington, where the Bruins will play Game 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals this week against the Capitals. The series is tied 1-1.
Rask was scratched for the first two games of the series and Khudobin dressed as Tim Thomas' backup.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid, who has been out since April 5 with an upper-body injury, will not travel with the team.
"He's going to stay here and continue to get treatment," Julien said about McQuaid. "You know, right now he's not ready to go on the ice. So he's going to continue treatment, and when he's ready to start working out with the team, we'll bring him with us."
BOSTON – The Boston Bruins missed an opportunity to put a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with Washington by dropping a double-overtime thriller in Game 2 Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.
But they know from their own experience and by looking at the rest of the League that a split in the first two games is a fortunate circumstance. Last year they lost the first two games at home to Montreal in the first round, and Pittsburgh and Vancouver dug themselves that same hole this season. Home teams struggled during the first week of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Yeah, I think everybody so far has lost home-ice advantage, but that doesn't mean you can't regain it. You get two more games to go there and regain that so it's, hopefully it's temporary for us anyways," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team held a meeting an off-ice workout at TD Garden on Sunday. "The other part is, that's parity in this League. When you look at the number of wins the top team has versus the eighth-place team, regulation wins, there's not that big of a difference. So I think people have to understand that it's a lot close than (No.) 1 against (No.) 8, as far as the gap's concerned. There's not that big of a difference."
Boston forward Brad Marchand believes that when it comes down to it, the venue has little impact on the events between the two teams.
"Even if you play at home, it's the same game on the ice. It really comes down to who wants it more and who has more heart and desire out on the ice," Marchand said. "Home-ice advantage just means you're in front of your home crowd, but really it's up to the guys in the room and that's really what it all comes down to. It's the same game on the ice."
BOSTON – After he was limited to just one shot on goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Boston on Thursday, Washington star forward Alexander Ovechkin’s task in the second game is to find more room to work against the Bruins’ defense pair of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.
If Ovechkin is looking for a little relief from his coach manipulating the matchups, Dale Hunter doesn’t sound like a man who plans to back away from allowing that marquee showdown to continue through Game 2 on Saturday and beyond.
“You can mix around lines, but pretty much even strength it was an even battle both ways through the whole thing,” Hunter said in reference to the Bruins’ 1-0 win in Game 1. “Until an overtime goal, it was pretty much even at even strength. Power-play time, they did have some more scoring chances because they had more power -play time. But as far as even strength, it was pretty even out there.”
The Capitals know that Ovechkin can’t beat the Bruins on his own, so his linemates are going to try to find way to aid the sniper’s cause.
“There’s things we can do. We know that he’s going to be keyed on, especially [by] Chara. He’s going to try to come across the ice a lot and pinch Alex,” center Brooks Laich said. “We can try to talk to him, we can try and get our bodies in the way. But when we get the puck, we have to skate. If we move the puck quick before they’re able to adjust their defense, whether it’s from the wing to the middle to the other wing or diagonal all the way, there’s some things we’re going to have to try to do.”
BOSTON – An ineffective power play was maybe the only thing standing between the Boston Bruins and an easier road to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship.
Boston improved against Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Final, but still finished the 2011 postseason just 10-for-88. Against Washington in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday, the Bruins’ power play was 0-for-4, a reminder of the 0-for-21 Boston compiled in last year’s first round against Montreal.
Rich Peverley had maybe the best two scoring chances during the Bruins’ man-advantages, and they both came on the same sequence. He sees room for improvement heading into Game 2 at TD Garden on Saturday.
“We definitely had chances, but I think quality chances, Grade-A chances, we definitely have to improve on,” Peverley said a couple hours before puck drop. “We’ve got to have a net-front presence, and if he’s [goaltender Braden Holtby] coming out and challenging, we’ve got to have a guy in his face.”
BOSTON – Somewhat lost in Braden Holtby’s 29-save performance in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut Thursday was the roughing penalty the rookie goaltender was called for against Boston center Chris Kelly.
Holtby and the Washington Capitals killed the penalty but when on to lose the game, 1-0, on a Kelly overtime goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden. However, the message Holtby sent about not trespassing on his territory might be beneficial as the series that continues Saturday goes on.
“That’s my game. That’s where I like to [be]. It’s my crease,” said Holtby, who conceded he shouldn’t have taken the penalty. “I don’t really like to let anyone in there because I want to fight as hard as I can to find the puck and to make saves.”
Holtby’s always been a feisty goaltender, according to coach Dale Hunter. And that the penalty occurred in the same crease Boston goaltender Tim Thomas decked Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin in the Stanley Cup Final last year was not lost on the 22-year-old netminder.
“It was funny actually, when I was at home [last June], my buddies and stuff were saying that that was a play that I would make,” Holtby said. “So it’s good to see and it’s a good competitive game out there.”
BOSTON – The stiches above Marcus Johansson’s left cheek tell only part of the story.
The Washington Capitals were credited with 22 blocked shots in their 1-0 overtime loss to Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday night. And the notches in Johansson’s face were the result of one of his two big blocks.
“You just try to stay in the shooting lane, and sometimes you have bad luck, and the puck came high a couple times,” Johansson said after the Capitals practiced at TD Garden on Friday in preparation for Game 2 on Saturday. “But right now it’s just a matter of blocking a shot and it’s not that bad. It hurts a little but it’s OK.”
Washington was ninth in the League in total blocked shots during the regular season. But the commitment to risking life and limb was part of an overall defensive improvement that pushed the Capitals into the playoffs in the last week of the regular season.
“We’ve been sacrificing a lot down the stretch here,” Caps coach Dale Hunter said. “We blocked a lot of shots. We know it hurts and stuff, but the guys are doing it to save some of the shots on net. It’s a sacrifice by the guys.”
He’s also the team’s “designated shopper” and one of the caretakers of the team’s excellent chemistry.
It was Ference’s eBay shopping that produced last year’s atrocious-looking Bruins jacket that the team handed out to the player of the game after every postseason win en route to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship. This year, Ference went to a local hardware store and purchased a 2-pound metal chain.
“Earlier in the year we talked about, when things weren’t going so great – a lot of teams probably could say it – but we have our success when everybody’s going and doing their role, so we had talked about not being a weak link and having a lot of pride,” Ference said after the Bruins practiced at TD Garden Friday. “Our guys kind of thrive on that. You know we have a lot of proud guys in this room. So it’s just kind of from that and being goofy. Not necessarily trying replicate the jacket but it’s kind of a fun thing to do after games.”
Chris Kelly, who scored the overtime winner in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Washington Thursday, was the first winner of the chain. Kelly will be responsible for awarding it to the winner after Boston’s next victory. Game 2 of the series is Saturday at the Garden.
The chain also has a padlock on it with a Bruins spoked-B logo that Ference engraved himself with a kit in five minutes. The plan is to put a notch in the lock after every playoff win. Last season, as the playoff run went longer and longer, the jacket took on added meaning – first with Nathan Horton returning while injured to award it to Rich Peverley, and then with the Bruins giving it to the retiring Mark Recchi as a parting gift after the championship run.
Regardless of how the Bruins fare this postseason, the chain will be another representation of the Bruins’ unity and ability to not take things too seriously.
“It’s not like you want to put too much significance on fun things like that. They’re fun, kind of goofy things to do,” Ference said. “But in the bigger picture, it’s like one of those ingredients that goes into having a good environment to work in. It doesn’t matter if it’s hockey or business, I mean employees that have fun and enjoy goofing around and don’t take themselves so seriously, I think we found a lot of success in that. Even with our success last year, I think that we’d like to think that we take some pride in remaining somewhat true to our roots and kind of what’s the sport’s all about. I think that once you lose that, you kind of lose the soul of what hockey is pretty proud of.”
BOSTON – An afterthought in terms of the Boston Bruins’ lineup a year ago, forward Tyler Seguin is heading into his second Stanley Cup Playoffs as a focal point.
As an NHL sophomore, Seguin led the Bruins in goals (29) and points (67) during the 2011-12 regular season. Still, the 20-year-old has some of the feelings of a less-important player.
“It’s still kind of like even during the pregame skate there, I’m still thinking my head ‘maybe I won’t even play tonight; maybe I’ll get scratched.’ Just from last year and obviously it was a year ago but it really doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. It’s nice to be in different shoes this time around,” Seguin said Thursday after the Bruins’ morning skate at TD Garden in preparation for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Washington.
Seguin admitted he slept better Wednesday night than he did last year on the eve of the postseason. And he’s better prepared to contribute this season after playing a small part – three goals in two games of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay – of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup championship drive.
“It’s almost a night-and-day difference from going into the playoffs last year to going into the playoff this year,” he said. “It’s just the whole ride that we went on and seeing everything that I saw both on the ice and off the ice, it just makes me a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident.”
BOSTON – All the days of hype are through and it’s time for Braden Holtby to face the reality.
The Washington Capitals rookie goaltender is going to be the starter in net for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday night.
After playing in six of the nine games he dressed for during Washington’s late-season push for a playoff spot, Holtby is trying to just keep everything about his preparation consistent prior to his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut.
“Not much, I’m just trying to go about my usual ways. If you start changing things up, you get too wrapped up in everything. I just want to go have fun,” said Holtby after his team’s morning skate.
Coach Dale Hunter said there’s not much he can say to Holtby to prepare the 22-year-old.
“He’s been kind of in the fire for the last two or three weeks here playing some tough games. So you know he’s a confident kid and you know he can’t wait to play,” Hunter said.
Center Jay Beagle didn’t skate, but according to Hunter it was an optional skate. Injured goaltender Michal Neuvirth was on the ice but he doesn’t figure to dress.
BOSTON – Although Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday morning he would dress 22 skaters for his team’s pregame warmup and then make his lineup decisions, all signs have pointed toward the return of Johnny Boychuk to Boston’s lineup against Washington for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden.
Boychuk skated on a pair with Andrew Ference during the morning skate, after he practiced three consecutive days in preparation for the playoffs. The veteran blueliner has been out since he sprained his knee in a game April 3.
While Boychuk should be back, Adam McQuaid remains out with an upper-body injury. That leaves Greg Zanon and Joe Corvo as Boston’s third pair. Julien is certain the Bruins can overcome McQuaid’s absence.
“I feel very confident. Everyone that we have here is very capable of playing ... they’ve all done a great job, so if anything I feel extremely confident," Julien said. "I think [general manager] Peter [Chiarelli] did a great job of solidifying that position for us, because it’s position that we needed to solidify and the two guys he brought on in – you look at Zanon and [Mike] Mottau have both played extremely well for us in the games that they’ve played.”
Julien will also have a decision to make up front because the Bruins have 13 healthy forwards. Based on practices, that choice seems to be between Daniel Paille and Jordan Caron.
WILMINGTON, Mass. – The announcement Wednesday that forward Nathan Horton would not be returning to the Boston Bruins during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs due to post-concussion symptoms means the Bruins will start the playoffs with Rich Peverley as the team's first-line right wing.
Since returning from a 19-game absence March 25 due to a knee sprain, Peverley had been rotating with Tyler Seguin at Horton's old spot alongside left wing Milan Lucic and center David Krejci. Through three days of practice, including Wednesday's workout here at Ristuccia Arena, Peverley consistently was on Krejci's right. He's expected to start in that position for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Washington Thursday at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
Peverley had two goals and four points in the final eight games of the regular season as he tried to get back to feeling like himself before the playoffs. He said it took five or six games, but now he's at full strength.
"I feel like the last two games of the season I really felt like I was skating a lot better. My timing feels good. I feel 100 percent," said Peverley, who finished the season with 11 goals and 42 points in 57 games.
Krejci's confident his chemistry, which has been so strong with Lucic for two seasons now, can continue to improve with Peverley.
"When [Horton's] on my line, it's more like two power forwards and one set-up man," said Krejci. "Now with [Peverley] there it's kind of like two set-up men and one power forward. So, you know, me and him [Peverley], we've got to realize that if one guy has the puck on his stick, the other guy's got to become a power forward. That's what we've got to do and I think that's going to be the key to score goals for our line."
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins' defense corps might be close to whole when they host Washington Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) at TD Garden for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
Johnny Boychuk practiced Wednesday for the third straight day in his attempt to return from a knee injury that occurred April 3 in a collision with Pittsburgh's Arron Asham. Boychuk missed Boston's last two regular-season games.
"Obviously, we have an opportunity maybe to make a decision [Thursday]," Bruins coach Claude Julien said following the workout here at Ristuccia Arena. "Again, specifying opportunity, not a 100-percenter. But he's feeling fairly good, so we want to remain optimistic with him."
Boychuk started the week a bit ahead of schedule, as he wasn't supposed to take part in battle drills on his first day on the ice Monday. However, he competed in those drills and emerged unscathed.
The news wasn't as positive for fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid, who left Boston's April 5 game with an upper-body injury and then missed the regular-season finale. He has yet to skate since then and Julien said McQuaid would be out for Game 1.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has been out since March 3 with an abdominal/groin injury, practiced for a third straight day Wednesday. He started taking shots Monday. Julien said that as of Wednesday afternoon he didn't expect to have Rask dress against the Capitals, but that could change Thursday.
BOSTON -- After the Pittsburgh Penguins' morning skate Tuesday at TD Garden, star center Sidney Crosby was asked if he wanted to respond to recent comments NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury made about the perennial All-Star in the aftermath of Sunday's Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game.
Milbury used comments in a Monday morning radio interview to describe Crosby's play as dishonest. Milbury has since apologized for those comments.
"I reached out to (Pittsburgh president) David Morehouse and the Penguins about the comments I made yesterday on Philadelphia radio," Milbury said. "In hindsight, I realize what I said was inappropriate and wrong, and I want to apologize to the Penguins organization and their fans."
Crosby offered the following on Tuesday:
"No, not really. I don't really have to get into that," Crosby said." I don't what he's looking for, if he's looking for attention or what it is. I don't have much to say there. I really don't know where that came from. You can really twist something a certain way, and he's obviously showing he's more than capable of doing that. He's pretty good at twisting stuff around, that's for sure."
Crosby and the Penguins face the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, looking to hold off the Flyers, who are one point behind Pittsburgh in the race for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage that comes with that seeding.
BOSTON --Anton Khudobin nearly missed his chance to get called up to Boston this season.
When Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask went down with an abdominal/groin injury March 3, Khudobin was also sidelined while with Providence of the American Hockey League. Khudobin's wrist injury eventually healed, but by that time the Bruins had already imported Marty Turco from Austria to back up Tim Thomas.
Now with three games remaining in the regular season, Rask is recovering. But it's unknown if he'll be available to play in a game when the playoffs start next week. Turco is ineligible to play in the postseason because he signed after the trade deadline. So now the Bruins might give Khudobin a chance to play in an NHL game or two to make sure he's ready should he have to be Thomas' backup at the start of the postseason.
"Well, you know sometimes it happens in hockey. So it's kind of, yeah, maybe it was time to call me up, but I was hurt, so I just tried to keep moving forward and finally this time comes up," Khudobin said after the Bruins' morning skate at TD Garden. "I'm glad to be here, at least for now."
Khudobin was recalled Monday. He's scheduled to serve as Turco's backup Tuesday night against Pittsburgh. On the season, Khudobin compiled a 21-19-3 record and 2.61 goals-against average in 44 games for Providence.
"I'm feeling pretty good. I played four games there [since returning from the injury] and I feel ready to go," he said.
So when he gets the start against the Boston Bruins tonight at TD Garden, he'll be looking to shake off some more rust before the postseason. However, coach Dan Bylsma stressed that Johnson's start is more about Marc-Andre Fleury's well-being.
"[It's about] giving Marc-Andre Fleury a rest here going into the last week," Bylsma said after his team's morning skate. "And Brent has obviously played only one game in a long time, to get him back in the net and to play in a game ... but really it's about Marc-Andre Fleury getting some rest going into the playoffs in the last week."
Fleury has played in 13 of the Penguins' last 17 games.
Bylsma said the rest of the lineup will be a game-time decision. Both Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang came off the ice much later than the rest of their teammates.
BOSTON -- One of the Boston Bruins' main objectives for their final three games of the regular season, now that they're locked in as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, is to get rest for some of their key performers.
Maybe no one on the roster is more important than goaltender Tim Thomas, and tonight Thomas' rest begins. Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team's morning skate that Marty Turco will start in net against Pittsburgh at the TD Garden tonight. Anton Khudobin, who was recalled Monday from Providence of the American Hockey League, will serve as the backup.
Julien also confirmed that Thomas would play again before the season is out.
"Certainly, we're going to give him some rest. He's done a great job for us down the stretch and this is an opportunity to give him some rest," Julien said. "But at the same time, we’re going to continue to work with him so he's fine-tuned for the playoffs."
Turco is not eligible to play in the postseason because he signed with the Bruins after the trade deadline. So depending on the status of Tuukka Rask's recovery from an abdominal injury he's been working his way back from since early last month, Khudobin might have to be Thomas' postseason backup. That means the Bruins will probably try to get Khudobin some playing time before the season is done.
The Bruins will make a couple lineup changes tonight as well. Up front, Jordan Caron is out with the flu and Gregory Campbell should be back after missing one game with a lower-body injury.
On defense, rookie Torey Krug is scheduled to make his NHL debut. Krug signed as a free agent with Boston last month after his season was through at Michigan State.
Vokoun carries a 25-17-2 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and .916 save percentage into the vital game for the Capitals, who trail eight-place Buffalo by two points in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
After practicing Wednesday, Vokoun declared himself ready to return. The morning skate today did nothing to change that.
"We are basically with our backs against the wall," Vokoun said. "You want to be on the ice and make a difference, a positive one. So I'm glad I'll get the chance to play."
BOSTON --Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has played in all of the team's 76 games so far this season, but he has been ruled out of tonight's game with Washington at the TD Garden.
Seidenberg suffered a cut from an opponent's skate last Saturday in a win over Los Angeles. He played in Boston's two games since then. However, according to coach Claude Julien, the cut has become infected and Seidenberg is on antibiotics. The blueliner is classified as day-to-day and he's being kept out of the lineup as a precaution.
That means the Bruins will re-insert Joe Corvo tonight as they try to earn the two points that will clinch them a playoff berth. Corvo, who had a cortisone shot in his right hand a couple weeks ago, has been scratched for six straight games.
As for the playoff berth, the Bruins are looking to make it five trips to the postseason in the five years under Julien's tutelage. Julien believes his team is playing the perfect opponent to make sure it doesn't try to coast to those two points.
"That's a first step in the right direction, right? Clinching a spot is something, and you're playing a team that's really battling hard to get themselves in the playoffs," said Julien about the Capitals, who sit ninth in the Eastern Conference. "We all know here, and we can say and pretend it's just smoke coming out of my mouth, but really this team here is going to be tough to play against tonight. Really, desperation makes it tough. So, again, I like those kind of challenges. Those are the kind of challenges you need to finish the season with in order to bring the best out of your hockey club. And we're going to need to be at our best if we expect to win tonight."
BOSTON -- When he arrived at the TD Garden for his first morning skate with the Boston Bruins today, Torey Krug found out he was in the big leagues in more ways than one.
"I don't know if they build these lockers for him," Krug said, referring to 6-foot-9 Bruins captain Zdeno Chara after the practice, "but I can barely reach my helmet on top."
The 5-foot-9 Krug has been overcoming his size disadvantage his whole life, so he'll figure out a way to adjust to the larger amenities at Boston's home rink. After winning the CCHA Player of the Year award this season, the defenseman decided to leave Michigan State to turn pro. Undrafted, he became a free agent last week and on Sunday signed a deal with the Bruins.
Part of Krug's deal called for him to join the Bruins rather than their AHL farm club in Providence. This means he gets to burn a year on his entry-level contract, and he gets to experience life as an NHL player much sooner than he expected.
"It's awesome," said Krug about joining the Bruins. "The last few days have been a whirlwind, that's for sure. A couple days ago I was sitting in East Lansing getting ready to study for a test. Here I am sitting in a locker room full of NHLers. It's been a great past couple days and I'm looking forward to the next couple weeks."
For now, Krug is focused on getting used to professional life and battling his new teammates in practices. Down the road, however, coach Claude Julien might decide to work the 20-year-old into the Bruins' lineup.
"I've heard a lot of good things about this player, and certainly haven't had a chance to see him play, but we can get a pretty good idea just by watching him in practices, and tomorrow he'll get a chance for a full practice with us and we'll see where we go from there," Julien said. "Certainly not going to tell you right now that he's not going to play, but we may give him an opportunity -- depends on how everything goes. But the one thing he gets to do is experience the, I guess the level of competition here at the NHL."
To his credit, Krug's confident he can hold his own at the sport's highest level.
"Yeah, I feel like that," he responded when asked if he's ready to play in the NHL. "Obviously, the coaches will make that decision. But I'm here, my No. 1 goal is just to compete and work 100 percent 100 percent of the time."
BOSTON -- Playing his first game for the Boston Bruins after missing 19 with a severely sprained knee, Rich Peverley barely missed a beat Sunday night in their win at Anaheim.
His 16:44 of ice time was just about his season's average, and he skated both on the penalty kill and power play in addition to his even strength time. Tonight he should be once again in the lineup when the Bruins host Tampa Bay at the TD Garden.
"I want to be able to play as much as I can, so that's good," he said after Boston's morning skate. "But [coach Claude Julien] still held me back a few shifts. So it's probably better in the end for that. But I felt good today, I felt good on that Sunday there, it was good to get in the game there."
Peverley said he felt better as the game went on and that he's pretty close to feeling like himself. The Bruins will need him and the rest of their players at their best, as they'll try to earn a three-game winning streak for the first time since December.
The Bruins are also looking to avenge a 6-1 loss they suffered in Tampa on March 13.
"We've made steps in the right direction [since then]," center Chris Kelly said. "That Tampa game was obviously an embarrassing game for us. I think if you ask anyone in this locker room, that wasn't our style of hockey. Give them credit, they came out hard and played well and played right to the final buzzer like they should have. We didn't show up at all that game."
Tampa Bay did not hold a morning skate because they played last night in Philadelphia. Vincent Lecavalier (hand) and Nate Thompson (upper body) have been skating with the Lightning and could rejoin the lineup as early as tonight.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Their 8-0 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday might have been the perfect way for the Boston Bruins to leave a mark on their home rink before departing for their last lengthy road trip of the season.
That victory, paired with a dramatic shootout win against Philadelphia two days earlier, gave the Bruins just their second two-game winning streak since early January. Now the Bruins are back on top of the Northeast Division, after they'd been kicked out for one day early last week by Ottawa.
"I feel like something's turned and it's a good feeling," said goaltender Tim Thomas, who was in net for both victories and recorded his fifth shutout of the season Monday. "Even before the game (Monday), I felt that way, I could just feel it in the locker room."
Despite the positive vibes, the Bruins weren't celebrating Tuesday. Although they held an optional practice here at Ristuccia Arena with just handful of player participating, the rest of the players got in their off-ice workouts in preparation for a journey to San Jose on Wednesday.
The Bruins will start their trip against the Sharks on Thursday and follow with games at Los Angeles and Anaheim over the weekend. The tightness of the Western Conference playoff race should make for some intense games, and Boston won't be able to revert to the form they showed when they lost four straight before this current winning stretch if they intend on returning to Boston on a positive note.
"I think it's just maintaining what we've done here the last couple games," said coach Claude Julien. "Our last road trip wasn't a very good one. We certainly have to make sure we get a better one out of this one. When you look at the teams that you're playing, right now to me, the best one probably is Anaheim, who's out of the playoffs. And the other two are right there knocking on the door. So I think we're going into a territory where there's a lot of desperation. So we're going to have, certainly, some good challenges. But to me, if we play the way we have the last couple games, it's a good challenge for us."
When they got back from their losing road trip last week, the Bruins held a rare late-afternoon practice to get their legs moving and break a sweat before the matinee with Philadelphia. The emphasis not only was on pushing the pace, but also being better in the defensive zone and supporting the puck in all situations. That extra work seems to have paid off.
"I think more consistency in our game," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk about the biggest difference between the Bruins' play in the losses and the victories. "We seem to be doing the little things right and giving us more chances to win."
Boston's goaltending depth, which was damaged by an injury to Tuukka Rask earlier this month, might be coming around. Marty Turco's Bruins debut last week in Tampa Bay was a disaster, as he allowed four goals on 12 shots over two stints in the game. He's been putting in some extra work in practices since then and should be better adjusted to NHL shooters by now. There might be a chance for him to spell Thomas in one of the upcoming games.
"There’s no doubt, when he's been facing the kind of shots he's been facing now and extra week, he gets better," said Julien.
Rich Peverley, who has been out since mid-February with a knee injury, also might get back into Boston's lineup in California. That would provide the Bruins with almost their entire projected lineup, minus Nathan Horton, who still is not skating as he battles post-concussion syndrome.
The Bruins learned the hard way how difficult it is to dig out of a hole when a team is losing and falling behind every night. Based on better play, and especially better starts, they've found an approach that should work for them in the Golden State and not be too hard to duplicate going forward.
"No it's not hard, it's much better than it would be going the other way, so now we just got to keep playing the same way if you start changing your game and looking for some key plays, that's when you go out and make mistakes and that's what you don't want to do," said captain Zdeno Chara. "I don't think it's hard because it's much better to be on this side of the game than the other and we need that right now so we just got to keep doing the right thing."
BOSTON – Now that he's in his fifth season with the Boston Bruins, gritty forward Shawn Thornton probably has some casual fans that just jumped on the team's bandwagon while the team was on the cusp of its 2011 Stanley Cup championship or just after.
Considering Thornton has personified what it means to play "Bruins hockey" – with a combination of grit and determination that goes with skill – and his year-round presence in the Hub, Thornton has transformed himself into Boston's adopted son.
Now he'll be sticking around at least two more years beyond this season. The Bruins officially announced Monday that Thornton signed a two-year contract extension. The deal is reportedly worth $1.1 million per season. Thornton was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"My family's happy not having to move and all that stuff (and) not having to wait around for July 1 to see what was going to happen," Thornton said. "I wasn't too concerned, but I'm very happy to get it done."
Although he was imported from Anaheim as a free agent prior to the 2007-08 season to provide the Bruins with some missing truculence, Thornton has been so much more than just a tough guy or energy player. Last season, he posted career highs with 10 goals and 20 points. So far this season, he has four goals and 12 points in 70 games. In addition, he leads the League with 19 fighting majors.
Thornton is also one of the team's more vocal leaders and last season was responsible for getting the Bruins' training staff to hang motivational pictures of Bruins championship teams of the past during the postseason run.
"Since we got Shawn, I don't know how many years ago, every year, to me, he's improved as a player, and I think that’s what's allowed him -- that and his conditioning has allowed him to be a good fourth-line player in this League and then a good catalyst in his own way," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "You see some of the skill that he has when he scores, when he makes some plays, but most importantly, you see the enthusiasm and the vigor that he brings to the rink every day, and that's important for this team and his character's important for this team.
"I'm happy to get him signed and I believe he just takes so much pride in his conditioning, and that's gotten better over the time when I've seen him. I think, without question, he'll be able to play well for two more years."
"Again, there's no exact time for when he's going to start playing again," said Julien, "but he's looking better every day. There's the rehab part of it that he's doing right now, so he started skating last Wednesday on his own and he's progressed since then. So when you've been off for that long, you just don't come back every night. So we're going to give him a chance and wait for our doctors to clear him."
Peverley said he hopes to join the team for a practice this week and then go on the upcoming California road trip, which Boston will start Wednesday with a cross-country flight and then a practice in San Jose.
Peverley is seventh on the Bruins with 38 points in 49 games played this season.
Boston didn't treat Carlyle's Leafs any different than they had Ron Wilson's Leafs previously -- the Bruins improved to 5-0-0 against Toronto with a 5-4 win.
Over the last several weeks, Carlyle has had a chance to mold the Leafs more into the image of one of his teams, according to Boston coach Claude Julien.
"His system, it's his system," said Julien after his team's morning skate in preparation for Monday's game against Toronto at the TD Garden. "You just have to look at Anaheim play when he was there and that's a lot of what they're trying to do. I'm not going to get into details and specifics, but that's what we see from Randy's approach versus Ron's.
"Let me put it this way: Ron was a very aggressive coach and Randy -- not that he's not aggressive -- but also spends a lot of time making sure the defensive approach is there, as well."
It's a long shot that Toronto will qualify for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so an opportunity to avoid a season-series sweep at the hands of one of the Eastern Conference's powers might be the Leafs' last chance to win a playoff-like game. It also could provide a way for Toronto to gauge how far it has come under Carlyle, but the coach isn't looking at this game that way.
"I think it's the chance to play against the Stanley Cup champions. I don't look at it any other way," said Carlyle. "What we've tried to do is focus on each game and one game at a time -- and I know it's an old sports cliché and you guys are probably tired of hearing it, I'm probably tired of saying it -- but the reality is that you're not going to be judged by one game. I don't think we're in a position to say we're using this game as a measuring stick. I think what we're trying to say is we have a template that we're trying to create that we have to play to. And I'll let other people do the judging of that after."
While Bruins coach Claude Julien classified Corvo that day as "banged up but healthy," Corvo on Monday told NHL.com that he definitely wasn't healthy.
Corvo revealed that Friday night he had a cortisone shot in his right hand for an injury he had been playing through since a collision with teammate Andrew Ference in a game against the New York Rangers earlier this month. Corvo strained some ligaments in the hand/wrist area.
"My hand doesn't feel 100 percent, so I'm not going to out there and not be able to battle and stuff and do my job if I'm not 100 percent," said Corvo, who stayed on the ice for extra skating Monday.
Corvo said he's feeling better, and Julien on Monday re-classified Corvo as "a little banged up." He added that if the Bruins needed Corvo, he could play. But since the Bruins currently are carrying eight healthy -- if you include Corvo -- defensemen, it's likely Corvo will sit out tonight's game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 70 games this season, Corvo has 4 goals, 21 assists and a plus-7 rating.
They might need a little luck of the Irish to snap their four-game losing streak. However, they have won two of their previous three meetings with the Flyers.
Tim Thomas will make the start in net for Boston – his 12th straight appearance in goal, including two relief appearances. The Flyers counter with Ilya Bryzgalov trying to extend his personal seven-game winning streak.
Here are the projected starting lineups for both clubs:
BOSTON – For the first time since Nov. 30, the Boston Bruins woke up this morning out of first place in the Northeast Division.
In fact, the nature of the Eastern Conference standings is such that after Ottawa’s win against Montreal last night, the Bruins not only fell into second place behind the Senators in the division, but they also dropped all the way to seventh in the East.
So if the motivation to snap the team’s first four-game losing streak in more than two years wasn’t enough for the Bruins today when they play host to Philadelphia at TD Garden, the unfavorable spot in the standings should provide added incentive.
“I think it’s definitely a wake-up call for us,” said forward Brad Marchand a few hours before the matinee’s puck drop. “We put ourselves in a position where it’s obviously not where we want to be. It just shows we really have to turn things around if we want to be in the playoffs this year.”
A better start would go a long way toward turning things around for the Bruins. They have allowed the first goal in seven straight games. But even if they don’t get on the scoreboard first, the Bruins need to respond accordingly.
“I think that right now it’s really important that we don’t put our head down as soon as we get scored on, even if it’s in the first or we trail by one going into the third,” forward Jordan Caron said. “I think we’ve got to keep pushing and keep our heads up. We’ve got a good team; everybody knows it. We just need to stay positive and keep pushing in the same direction.”
This is the first time last year’s Vezina Trophy winner has started more than three games in a row.
Tuukka Rask suffered a serious groin/abdominal injury one week ago today. Rask spoke for the first time since the injury today and reported little pain and a positive attitude about being able to return six weeks from the injury.
The Bruins’ lineup will be different from their last outing, as Benoit Pouliot will be scratched. The Bruins will dress seven defensemen.
With Mike Green suspended for three games, the Capitals will reinsert Roman Hamrlik into their lineup. The veteran blueliner has been a healthy scratch the past eight games. Forward Mike Knuble also gets back in after sitting out Washington’s last two games. Knuble will replace Jeff Halpern.
Here’s a look at both teams’ lineups after warm-ups:
BOSTON -- When a rookie scores his first NHL goal, a teammate usually retrieves the puck and at some point it's presented by that scorer's organization as a memento.
So what does one get for his first NHL fight?
"Nothing. Keep the gloves, maybe, I don't know," Lane MacDermid said today after the Bruins' optional morning skate in preparation for an evening matchup with divisional rival Buffalo at the TD Garden.
MacDermid should make his NHL home debut against the Sabres after skating on Boston's fourth line in both games on the Bruins' recent road trip to New York and Toronto. At Madison Square Garden, MacDermid -- a 150-plus-PIM guy in his first two pro seasons with Providence of the AHL -- needed little time to show what he could bring to the Bruins. On his first shift, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound MacDermid met the challenge of 6-5, 243-pound Mike Rupp in a spirited bout.
"He's a pretty big guy, so I just tried to hold my own and do my best," MacDermid said.
An injury to usual Boston fourth-line left winger Daniel Paille opened up the opportunity for MacDermid to be recalled during the regular season for the first time. He's averaged just 7:03 of ice time during his two games and hasn't recorded a point, but he hasn't been on the ice for a goal against either.
"Well, I think what I like about those kinds of guys is that they're pretty tough individuals, but they can play. I think that's always important," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I think obviously he has some good genes [MacDermid's father, Paul, played in the NHL], and he obviously has some hockey sense. You watch him play -- he finishes his checks well, he plays a big, tough, grinding-type game. But he also plays a smart game. When it's time to back check or be the third man, he reads the play well. Certainly not a liability out there, and right now what I've appreciated of him as that he's come in and not played on his heels, he's just gone out there and plays hard and seems to have a lot of confidence."
MacDermid says that linemates Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton are so solid positionally that it makes it easy to play with them. He's also sticking to the basics in an effort to show the Bruins he belongs with the parent club.
"Down there [at Providence], I tried to maybe expand my game a little bit more and try to work on some things. But up here you don't want to make any mistakes, so you try to keep it simple and play your game," he said.
Turco, who signed a one-year deal with the Bruins on Monday, practiced with the team for the first time Wednesday. After practice, Michael Hutchinson, who had been Tim Thomas’ backup for Boston’s previous two games after the Tuukka Rask injury, was reassigned to the Providence (AHL) farm club.
Coach Claude Julien also said that forward Benoit Pouliot should be able to play. The speedy wing collected a lower-body injury during the second period of a win Tuesday in Toronto. Pouliot did not practice Wednesday, but he skated during an optional session this morning.
Daniel Paille (upper-body) and Andrew Ference (lower-body) also continued to skate. However, Julien ruled both out for a Thursday night return.
The Sabres, who arrived in Boston late Wednesday after an overtime home win over Carolina, did not hold a skate. Buffalo is 7-1-2 in its last 10 games. Coach Lindy Ruff has hinted that Ryan Miller, who has played in 20 straight games, might get a night off soon.
Here are the projected lineups for both Buffalo and Boston:
BOSTON – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was injured in the second period of Saturday afternoon's 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.
The Bruins did not provide an update after the game on the seriousness of the injury, but several reporters saw Rask leaving the arena on crutches. He will not travel to New York City for Sunday's NHL on NBC game against the New York rangers (12:30 p.m. ET).
Rask seemed to injure his left leg when attempting to make a save on a wide shot by Islanders forward Matt Martin. Rask fell onto his back to draw the whistle at 9:01 of the period and was replaced by Tim Thomas after the television timeout.
The game was tied at 1-1 at that point and Thomas let up two goals to absorb the loss.
"It's no fun whenever you see your partner get hurt," Thomas said after the game. "And you worry about him."
Milan Lucic, who scored the game's opening goal, said it was hard to see Rask helped off the ice after injuring his leg.
"It's obviously not great to see him not being able to get up after an effort to make a save," Lucic said. "He's been a big part of this team, as well, throughout the season. It (stinks) that he had to leave the game, but hopefully he's going to get better soon."
Rask had his left knee scoped this past summer, a procedure that didn't cause him to miss any time once training camp opened. He entered Saturday's game with a record of 11-8-3, a goals-against average of 2.05 and a .929 save percentage.
The Bruins likely had plans to use Rask regularly down the stretch to spell Thomas as the Bruins schedule is congested in the season's final month. Depending on the severity of the injury, that plan may have to be altered.
"You're hoping to be able to utilize your two goaltenders in this stretch because the next two weeks there's about four games per week," coach Claude Julien said "But we'll have to make do some way."
Ference suffered a lower-body injury Thursday in the third period of an overtime win against New Jersey. He did not return to the game and missed Friday’s practice. He’s classified as day-to-day, according to coach Claude Julien.
The Islanders will similarly be missing forward Michael Grabner on Saturday. Islanders coach Jack Capuano said that Grabner’s flu-like symptoms were the main reason for the forward’s scratch.
Here are the lineups for the Bruins and Islanders:
BOSTON – Brian Rolston has journeyed around the NHL enough now in his more than a decade in the League to not be overwhelmed by emotions when facing one of his former teams.
Rolston, who was acquired by Boston from the New York Islanders this past Monday, will square off with those Isles on Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden.
“When you get traded the first time I think it’s a little more nerve-wracking,” said Rolston. “But I’ve been traded a few times and switched teams a few times. I’ve got good friends, obviously, and I feel strongly about a lot of those guys, but when you get on the ice it’s the same old thing and you’re doing your job.”
After two games back with Boston, Rolston says he’s feeling comfortable. He was aided by a shift to right wing next to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand last game against New Jersey.
“It was great. It’s a real easy game to play,” he said. “They made it easy on me and their system is easy to play.”
Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said that he and the organization wished nothing but the best for Rolston and defenseman Mike Mottau, who was also dealt to the Bruins. Rolston left his mark on the Isles, according to the coach.
“He was fitting in, it’s just for us Michael Grabner was playing on that second-line left wing there and Brian probably wasn’t getting the playing time he wanted,” said Capuano. “But forgetting statistically, he brought leadership to our room and he was a good guy to have around the young players. And it was a good for us to have him here, for sure.”
BOSTON -- Although he's been ruled out of tonight's home game against New Jersey, Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk today continued to make progress toward a return to the lineup.
Boychuk, who suffered a concussion last Saturday in Ottawa, skated on his own before the Bruins' practice Wednesday. Today he took part in an optional morning skate with his teammates and increased his heart rate both during the skate and after it, as he stayed on longer than most of the other players.
"I'm feeling pretty good. Just got out there, got a skate in and we'll see how I feel. Just going day by day, I guess," Boychuk said.
It was Ottawa forward Chris Neil's big hit on the forecheck that knocked out Boychuk in Saturday's third period. Boychuk compared it to being "run over by a train," but he also stressed that it was a clean hit.
If Boychuk continues to feel well, he'll practice again with the team Friday and then could make his return to the lineup over the weekend. Given that teammate Nathan Horton hasn't skated for several weeks after his initial attempt to get back on the ice after a concussion, Boychuk knows these types of injuries can be tough to predict. However, he's not fretting over that.
"You can’t really be nervous," he said. "You go out there, you see how you feel. If you feel good, then you feel good. If you don't, then you get off."
BOSTON -- The New Jersey Devils will try to snap a three-game losing streak, and also try to defeat the Boston Bruins for the first time in four tries this season, tonight at the TD Garden.
Although this is the Devils' final meeting with the Bruins in the regular season, they could run into the defending champs in the postseason. If the season ended today, second-seeded Boston and seventh-seeded New Jersey would meet.
Nonetheless, the Devils aren't looking at this game as any type of playoff preview. They're looking at it more like a chance to start playing better. They had won four in a row before their current slide.
"I think more so for ourselves, just to get back on track, try to get back in the winning column. We've been playing well, we've been playing some good hockey, we just need to do a better job of generating some more offense," captain Zach Parise said after the Devils' morning skate. "But I think this is definitely a team that's going to be there at the end of the year, so we definitely want to make sure we play a good game against them."
In an effort to jostle his team's offense, New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer has juggled his forward lines, including moving Dainius Zubrus from third-line center to second-line right wing with Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias.
Here’s how the Devils' lineup should look tonight against the Bruins:
Zanon was acquired in a trade from Minnesota on Monday and arrived in the Boston area late Tuesday night morning. He practiced with the team Wednesday and took part in an optional morning skate today.
"Obviously, every system has it's little adjustments. But hockey's hockey in the end, and you just go out there and play," Zanon said. "You just have to make sure you keep things in mind. It's a defensive style, so it's pretty easy for me just to fall into my spot and allow the rush to come to me and let the play happen. I'm not too much of an on-attack defenseman, so I'll wait for my opportunities, and when I get my opportunities to make a play, make a hit, I'm stepping up to do what I can."
Julien said that Mike Mottau, who was also traded to Boston on Monday, would be the healthy scratch against the Devils.
"He's got good size and he's got good mobility and he can make a pass," MacLean said after his team's morning skate. "So he gets the puck going up the ice. He has the ability to join the rush and even lead the rush at times. That’s the type of player that we like on the back end, and he gives us another puck-moving guy on the third pair that has the ability to bring offense. And in today's game, if you're not attacking with four people, you're not going to score goals."
Gilroy said he was excited to get traded up in the standings to a team currently holding a playoff spot. He also thinks his game will fit well with his new teammates.
"There's a lot of talented players here," Gilroy said. "They like to move the puck. And there's a lot of talented forwards here that like to work with the D on the rush, so it should be exciting to play with."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' three deadline-day acquisitions were all in town this morning.
Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau, who were picked up from the New York Islanders, took the morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for tonight's game against Ottawa. Both are scheduled to play against the Senators.
Greg Zanon, who was acquired from Minnesota, arrived late in the morning. Bruins coach Claude Julien said he wants Zanon to get in a practice with the team Wednesday before playing the veteran blueliner in a game.
"We've run into some injuries lately," Julien said. "That's been a challenge in itself to keep our lineup going in the right direction. So now there's a little bit more breathing room, as far as putting some guys in that have been around for a while."
Shawn Thornton has been ill, but took the skate and should be ready to go at puck drop.
BOSTON -- With an 11-day, six-game road trip looming after they host the New York Rangers tonight at TD Garden, the Bruins have stocked their roster with a couple spare parts for use in case of emergency.
Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk and forward Joshua Hennessy were recalled from the Providence (AHL) farm club Monday and both took part in the morning skate today. Both project to be healthy scratches against the Rangers.
For Hennessy, who was born in Brockton, Mass., joining his hometown team is a dream come true. The former second-round pick of San Jose is also overjoyed to be back in the NHL after skating in just 20 games over a three-season span and then playing last year in Switzerland.
Now he's 27 and feels better prepared to handle playing at the sport's highest level if he gets into the lineup.
"I'm a little older than the last time I was up. ... I'd say there's a lot less nerves this time," said Hennessy, whose only NHL experience came with Ottawa. "Should I get the opportunity to play, it's just move my feet, use my skating and puck-handling ability, I guess, and work hard, be responsible defensively -- leave an impression in absolutely any way possible."
Bodnarchuk also hasn't played in the NHL since the 2009-10 season, when he skated in four games for the Bruins. Boston used a fifth-round pick on Bodnarchuk in 2006, but other prospects have passed him on the depth chart the last couple seasons. Boston's desire to get regular seventh defenseman Steven Kampfer some consistent playing time in the AHL opened up this opportunity for Bodnarchuk, who has played better this season than last with the P-Bruins.
"This year I'm really, really happy with how the year's going. I think as a fourth-year pro, I'm still a young guy, but I have almost four years under my belt and I think the biggest thing for me has been my consistency," Bodnarchuk said. "Personally, game in and game out, I haven't had a bad game and I think that's a big thing for me. I came out of juniors an offensive guy and I sort of bought into the role as a defensive, shutdown PK guy. The consistency of my game in this year is what's really helped me come on and turn some more heads."
BOSTON -- The last time the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins met, they were neck and neck in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers left the TD Garden that afternoon with a win and sole possession of first place. Now they return to the scene of that dramatic overtime victory with a comfortable seven-point lead. Bruins coach Claude Julien, however, doesn't want his team worrying about the standings as much as what his players have to do on the ice tonight.
"I don't think we're necessarily looking at this game like we need to catch up with these guys more than we need to play well, and play well to give us a chance to win the game," Julien said after his team's optional morning skate. "It's as simple as that. Right now, our issues are a lot different than worrying about how far ahead they are or how much we need to catch up. We just have to go out there and play. And if we play well and do the job that we know we can, well hopefully we'll come up with a win and the rest will take care of itself."
The Bruins will leave for a six-game, 11-day road trip after facing the Rangers. So they've recalled defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk and forward Joshua Hennessy to provide depth while away from home. But for tonight, the lineup figures to feature the same players that beat Nashville on Saturday:
BOSTON – Two teams that have lost three of their last four games will meet this afternoon at TD Garden, as the Boston Bruins play host to the Nashville Predators.
Boston dropped its last outing, 6-0, at Buffalo on Wednesday. To a man, the Bruins know it’s not as bad, in general, as that score reflected. Now with just two home games left before a six-game road trip, the Bruins are looking forward to a better future.
“There’s some games like that,” said rookie forward Jordan Caron this morning. “There were a lot of little things that made it 6-0, and I think it’s going to happen during the season. We just have to bounce back.”
The Predators are 1-2-1 in their last four. In the three losses, they’ve allowed an uncharacteristic 11 goals. Nashville coach Barry Trotz, whose team ranks 12th with 2.58 goals allowed per game, knows that the Preds are only going to get better results once they improve their defensive play. They had won five in a row prior to their current slump.
“If we’re going to get back on track, we have to tighten things up [defensively],” said Trotz.
BOSTON – Despite the announcement that they recalled forward Jordan Caron from their Providence (AHL) farm club this morning, the Boston Bruins are going with the same lineup today that dropped a 3-0 decision to Carolina on Thursday night.
Caron will go with the Bruins on their trip to Washington for a game Sunday afternoon after their TD Garden matinee with Pittsburgh. Tim Thomas starts in goal for Boston, while Marc-Andre Fleury starts for the Penguins a few nights after snapping his streak of 23 straight starts.
Here are the projected lineups for both the Bruins and Penguins:
In Pittsburgh’s last 22 games, that trio has combined for 34 goals and 72 points. For the first time since their recent hot stretch commenced, however, they’ll have to face one the best defenseman in the NHL – Zdeno Chara.
Malkin can expect to have to have Chara in his face most of the day today during Pittsburgh’s first game in Boston of the 2011-12 season. Back in December, the Bruins beat Pittsburgh, 3-1, and coach Dan Bylsma said that even then it was difficult to separate his best players from Boston’s best defenders.
“They did, in the first game, they always have a pretty concerted effort to get the matchup they want, especially on the back end. And even at home, in Game 1 against them, they were maybe the best team in the League so far at getting the changes they needed to try and get the matchups they wanted,” said Bylsma some two hours before puck-drop. “We’re on the road. I don’t think it’s going to be any easier for me. The one thing you can hope for and you really try to do, if you can extend shifts by the other lines, you can start to get matchups that are in your favor. If that’s the case, if we can get good shifts in the offensive zone, if we can extend shifts for players that are on the ice for Boston, then maybe the matchups are something you can try to get.”
While the Penguins have won eight of their last nine, the Bruins are just 4-4-1 over that same stretch of games. Boston emphasized playing as five-man units during its up-tempo practice Friday, so now the Bruins will try to carry that over into game action.
“Just doing those simple things, working on our breakouts, regroups, everything,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk said about his team’s main focuses. “When we do it together we’re an unbelievable team and when we don’t, things fall apart. That’s what usually happens.”
BOSTON -- While the Carolina Hurricanes have enjoyed their matchups with the Boston Bruins this season to the tune of a 3-0-0 record against the defending Stanley Cup champions, they've struggled on the road regardless of the opponent.
Entering tonight's game at the TD Garden, the Hurricanes are 28th in the NHL in the road standings with a 5-13-6 record. Coach Kirk Muller, however, is quick to point out that over their last 10 games, the Hurricanes have played four contests away from Raleigh and compiled a 1-1-2 record.
"We're kind of looking at it more, not so much over the year, like game to game and we've taken it in 10-game segments," Muller said after his team's morning skate. "And with that we're really pleased with our effort on the road, and that's what we've got to keep building on."
Chad LaRose did not make the trip to Boston due to flu-like symptoms. Drayson Bowman was recalled from Charlotte of the AHL to fill LaRose's spot.
Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, who missed the last seven Hurricanes games with an upper-body injury, is expected to return to the lineup. Here's a look at the projected full roster that will take the ice against the Bruins:
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins should be whole again on their back end tonight for the first time in more than a week, as defenseman Andrew Ference will return from his three-game suspension.
Ference earned the ban against the New York Rangers Jan. 21, when he awkwardly pushed defenseman Ryan McDonagh into the end wall. Combined with Adam McQuaid's apparent return to health after catching a rut in the ice in the third period Tuesday and missing practice Wednesday, Ference's return will provide the Bruins with their usual sextet of blueliners against Carolina at the TD Garden.
"Well, I think he's been a pretty stable force for us back there," Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Ference, who has provided the team with 4 goals and 20 points so far this season. "I've liked his game this year. He's been a real healthy player. And I think that's what's held him back in the past, as far as people appreciating him for what he really is."
While Ference and McQuaid are scheduled to rejoin the lineup, Nathan Horton (concussion) has still not done any physical activity. Julien said the forward is improving and could exert himself later in the week.
BOSTON -- There wasn't much time for Tyler Seguin, the Boston Bruins' leading scorer with 19 goals and 43 points, to catch his breath over the weekend.
Seguin competed in the Skills Competition and the All-Star Game in Ottawa, and also made time to visit with some family and friends while back in his native province. The Bruins granted him -- and his All-Star teammates Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara -- a day off from practice Monday, but today he was right back on the ice for the team's morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for tonight’s game with Ottawa.
Seguin could be forgiven if his energy level was a little down after the whirlwind last three or four days coming on the heels of playing in 46 of Boston's 47 games leading up to the All-Star break.
"I'd like to say it is," said Seguin about energy being an issue. "But obviously I have to be ready, I have to have energy because I'm young. I'm 20 now, so I'm not that young anymore. I'm not 18 anymore. Maybe I do get fatigued now."
With the arrival of his 20th birthday today, Seguin has his mom and sister in town to celebrate and watch him play. And although there wasn't much rest for the weary in Ottawa, Seguin wouldn't have traded the experience for anything.
"I don't know if it felt like a break. It was a pretty long weekend," he said. "But it was one of the best weekends of my life. It was great, just hanging out with those guys and seeing some family and friends from back home. It was definitely a great break for me."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will open the post-break portion of the schedule tonight at TD Garden with their lineup still missing a key component.
Nathan Horton, who suffered a concussion Jan. 22 in Philadelphia and missed Boston's last game before the All-Star break, will continue to sit out when the Bruins host the Ottawa Senators. Horton has been visiting the Garden for medical treatments, according to coach Claude Julien, and he'll be held off the ice another few days.
Horton's latest concussion comes eight months after the one he suffered in the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins are expected to start Rich Peverley in Horton's spot on the right wing of a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
"Well for now, that's the situation. You know, Richard Peverley did a great job, I think, in stepping in last year when Horts got hurt. I think what he brings is that speed ... he’s got good hands, good speed," Julien said after the morning skate at the Garden. "And even his game, I think he wants to be a little bit better than he has been lately. So, he'd like to elevate his game a little bit. If he does that I think he'll be a great guy to be in that position for now. But that's the decision that we think is the best one so far, and we'll certainly hope that it works. But if not, then we'll look at moving some other guys around."
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said he doesn't expect any lineup changes from the group he used heading into the break. Defenseman Brian Lee continues to recover from a lower-body injury and could be back by the end of the week.
"It's his opinion, and I think our bottom line is we need a lot of action from a lot of guys. I think we have to play at both ends," Cunneyworth said two hours before puck drop between the Canadiens and Boston Bruins at TD Garden. "Our top guys have to be our top guys, and that's the bottom line. I think they know who they are. And we have a lot of work ahead of us against a very good team tonight."
While Cammalleri alluded to a possible "loser's attitude" among the Habs, Cunneyworth sounded more concerned about how his team's playing rather than its attitude.
"You know what? If you don't battle, if you don't play hard, if you don't play desperate, it doesn't matter what you do out there," he said. "I think you have to go out there and play that way in order to play the way we want to. Our team game is based around that, and you can't take a shift off. And I think if we can perform to our expectations, then certainly we're a good team and we can compete with anyone in the league."
BOSTON -- The day after Michael Cammalleri made some disparaging remarks about his team's attitude, the Montreal forward went into damage-control mode today after his team's morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for tonight's game with the Boston Bruins.
After the Habs practiced Wednesday, Cammalleri told NHL.com and a reporter from Montreal newspaper La Presse that he was unhappy with his ice time before making a comparison between teams with a "winning mentality" and those with a "losing mentality," suggesting the Canadiens were currently a part of the latter group.
In the Garden dressing room, he expressed confusion over why a statement like that would cause a controversy.
"Yesterday was a little bit crazy. I'm obviously not happy," said Cammalleri. "It's an emotional game, we're sitting in 12th spot, so it's not fun to lose and you want to win. So you always want to do more. That's all. I made some comments after my interview yesterday that I thought were pretty PC comments with regards to the competitive advantage a winning team has and their mentality, and the lack thereof of a losing team. I didn't think it was ground-breaking news.
"We're in 12th spot, we're not in a winning position right now. So it was some pretty impressive journalism to make all that out of that. But that's what it was for me. This group in here knows that we've got to be better. It's no secret, like I said, [we're in] 12th spot."
Cammalleri, who has only produced nine goals and 22 points for the 16-19-7 Canadiens, would not confirm whether he addressed the comments with his teammates, head coach Randy Cunneyworth or general manager Pierre Gauthier. But several players said that Cammalleri did clarify what he said with them.
Cammalleri also responded to those translating his statements about the team's attitude, and additional ones about his diminished ice time, as a message saying he wanted out of Montreal.
BOSTON -- As they attempt to close out their four-game, Canadian-opponent homestand tonight at the TD Garden with a win over Montreal, the Bruins are hoping winger Nathan Horton is finally out of the woods in terms of a scoring slump.
In his last four games, Horton has posted 5-1-6 totals, including two goals in Tuesday night's win over Winnipeg. Previously, Horton had scored just once over a seven-game span. His 14 goals now tie him with Milan Lucic for third on the team, and he's well on pace to at least match last season's total of 26 goals.
Bruins coach Claude Julien has witnessed a resurgence in Horton's game.
"I'd have to say it's picked up. I mean, in the last week or so you've seen him, again, I always say when he's emotionally involved in a game, he brings a lot," Julien said after an optional morning skate at TD Garden. "He can be a physical player, he can be a strong player, he's in the right spots, he buries his opportunities, and to me, he started doing that. I'm seeing a guy turning a corner, and I hope he keeps building on what he's done in the last week because it makes a big difference to our hockey club."
The Bruins' lineup isn't expected to change tonight from Tuesday, although Julien now has an extra option among forwards with the recall of Jordan Caron from the Bruins' Providence (AHL) farm club.
BOSTON -- If Brad Marchand's five-game suspension for his clip on Vancouver's Sami Salo accomplishes anything positive, the Boston Bruins winger hopes it sets a precedent for similar plays by other players in the future.
"I expect if there's any more hits like this that they'll be penalized the same way. Otherwise, it will be a double standard," Marchand said after his team's morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for a night game with Winnipeg. "But until we see more hits like this, we can't say that. So hopefully when hits like this arise from now on, they'll be penalized the same way."
Marchand, whose suspension will start tonight, used a similar check Canucks forward Mason Raymond executed on him last June in the Stanley Cup Final as part of his argument against discipline. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, in comments made Monday, also cited other hits, including ones by other Canucks, that were similar in nature to Marchand's hit on Salo.
Marchand, it was revealed in a statement released by the Bruins after the announcement of the suspension, also had sought out clarification about hip checks as way to protect oneself at the beginning of this season. Now Marchand has even more clarification in the matter.
"I'm a small guy, I play low to the ice and that's a way that I've protected myself in the past, and I just felt that it was better to be safe than sorry. And I brought it up to him," Marchand said in regards to NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. "And when I walked away from the conversation, he told me that when protecting myself, that's OK in that situation. So when that situation arose, I felt that I was protecting myself and I was allowed to do it, and that's why I did it.
"Well, I guess it's clear that I'm not allowed to do that and guys around the League aren't allowed to do that," Marchand continued. "They tried to make that clear and I'm going to do something else next time."
Marchand has carved out a career in the NHL both with his goal-scoring prowess and his ability to play on the edge in terms of physicality and trash talk. Last season he earned a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Columbus' RJ Umberger, and this season he was fined for slew-footing Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen.
In the past, Bruins coach Claude Julien has felt the need to chat with Marchand in order to rein in the rambunctious forward. But this time, Julien doesn't think there's need for such a talk.
"I think Brad heard enough -- [saw] enough. He said he's going to try and adjust his game," Julien said. "Give him credit, he's a young kid that keeps trying to improve his game and get better in that area. It's not like he's denying anything, he tries to get better and we helped him along that way, and I think that’s what I appreciate about Brad. He's not hiding behind the fact and saying, 'I don't do anything wrong.' He knows the referees will watch him closely and he knows he has to get better in that area. Not only does he get under teams' skin, but also the referees, and he knows that stuff. At the same time, we know that his playing on the edge makes him a good player. We got to work with him, not against him and got to help him make sure his game is fine-tuned to the point where those things happen less and less."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have already staged two tooth-and-nail matchup during their split season series so far in 2011-12.
The Bruins won their home game, 4-2, with an empty-netter sealing the deal, while the Jets hung on for a 2-1 victory in their building. Tonight at the TD Garden, the Jets might have to face a Bruins team with a bit more anger over both its loss to Vancouver on Saturday and the five-game suspension handed out to forward Brad Marchand.
"Well, we hope it's not a bad thing and they get mad at us," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said after his team's morning skate. "They have a good team, they play well and they've got a lot of depth. And we've got enough to worry about with them as an opponent that we're going to have to get our emotional level up because they play hard, they're hard to play against, they don't give you much."
Noel said that forward Tim Stapleton, who missed Winnipeg's win in Buffalo on Saturday with the flu, might return tonight. But it's doubtful forward Alexander Burmistrov will play because of a lower-body injury that already cost him one game. Burmistrov said he felt better today than he did over the weekend after taking the morning skate.
The goaltending duos for both teams left the ice at the same time with their respective squads, so we won't know the official goaltending matchup until pregame warm-ups. Here are the projected lineups:
BOSTON – The chance to complete their seven-game road trip with a .500 record lies in the balance tonight.
So the Calgary Flames needed to regroup in the midst of their morning skate after things started to get sloppy.
Head coach Brent Sutter interrupted his team’s skate at the TD Garden, where they’ll face the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, for a lengthy team chat, before allowing his players to resume their activities. It’s rare for any coach to insert his speech in the middle of a skate.
“We have a game to play tonight. So that’s what it’s about,” said Sutter, whose team is 2-3-1 on its current trip. “We don’t want to be missing because we’re not at the standards we need to be.”
Calgary center Rene Bourque begins his five-game suspension Thursday night, so Raitis Ivanans is scheduled to get into the lineup. Leland Irving was the first Flames goaltender off the ice, which indicates he’ll probably get the start.
Here are the Flames’ projected forward lines and D pairs as per the morning skate:
“I think that was one of the things I tried to do in the third period when we scored that fourth goal and seemed to have control of the game, I really tried to spread out the ice time and keep us as fresh as possible for tonight,” said Julien, who gave his players this morning off. “That’s the reality of things. You’ve got a team waiting for you at home and you’ve got to play a back-to-back game. We’ve done it before. It’s throughout the whole league, every team plays back-to-back games. And you’ve just got to look at the situation and make the best of it. And we’re fortunate that we had a good enough cushion last night that we were able to do it.”
BOSTON -- Florida coach Kevin Dineen said Friday night that No. 1 center Stephen Weiss would probably miss the team's next game Dec. 27 at home vs. Toronto in addition to tonight's game at Boston.
Weiss suffered an upper-body injury Thursday night in the first period in Ottawa and did not return.
The Panthers had hoped to recall center Mark Cullen from the AHL San Antonio Rampage for Friday's game, but travel issues prohibited that transaction. Instead, Dineen expected to dress seven defensemen with his team now short seven forwards due to injury.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will get one forward back for tonight's game against Florida, while another will sit the game out at the TD Garden.
Milan Lucic will be back from his one-game suspension, which he served Monday against Montreal. Rich Peverley, who's nursing an undisclosed injury, will miss the game. Coach Claude Julien said the Bruins are hoping having a full week off (Peverley hasn’t skated since Monday's game) will allow Peverley to be ready for the team's next game Wednesday in Phoenix.
Lucic, who was suspended for his hit from behind on Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo, should provide the Bruins with a boost of offensive support and physicality. Despite the suspension, he plans to play the game the way he usually does.
"I can't change my game," he said. "I play with a lot of emotion and I do everything I can to keep it safe and follow the guidelines of the new hitting protocol and all that type of stuff. So obviously, a big part of my game is being physical and creating emotion. And I can't lose that, that's for sure."
The Panthers didn't have a skate today after getting in late last night in the aftermath of their overtime loss in Ottawa. Kevin Dineen will update on his team's injury status, including that of star forward Stephen Weiss, prior to game time. Florida is expected to call up Mark Cullen to replace Weiss in the lineup
BOSTON – Although he's accepted his one-game suspension with the utmost humility, Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic hopes this punishment for his hit from behind on Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo and the decision by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan don't tarnish the reputation the left winger has worked his career to build.
Shanahan said in his explanation of his decision Monday that Lucic's past, which included a phone hearing for his hit on Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller earlier this season, factored into the suspension.
"As far as my history is concerned, obviously I think you look at the five years I've been here, I’ve led the team in hits for all those years. And this is the first time that I've ever had a hearing or a suspension when it comes down to a hit. Take aside the hit on the goalie, I'm talking about a hit on the players. I do everything in my power to keep it clean out there," said Lucic, whose one prior NHL suspension came during the 2009 playoffs after a high hit in a scrum.
"I remember even earlier this year, one of the Boston reporters came up to me and asked me 'Is the reason why you're not playing as physical as the years before because of the new rules and the clarity of it?' And I answered the question, 'Yes.' Obviously he put out some pretty clear videos of what is a suspension and what isn't, and I try my full-on best to follow those rules."
Lucic, whose history also includes a $3,500 fine last December for a punch after the linesman had intervened in an altercation, said he explained to Shanahan that he tried to make sure the hit wasn't from behind. Rinaldo was also quoted as saying he didn't think the hit warranted a ban.
“Obviously I support the League's attempt at addressing player safety," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "And I think Milan might have explained to you … if you look at it closely, I feel that he … did change his game, so to speak, on that check. I thought he stopped skating. If you looked at his left arm going in, I thought he tried to lever him so that he could hit him in the crest, and I don't think he hit him as hard as he normally does. Milan's a guy whose led our team in hits, I think, since he's been here, and he's very rarely been penalized with boarding, hit from behind – the roughing stuff. He's a clean player, and that's what the law is now, so we'll abide by it."
Lucic expressed disappointment about not being able to face Montreal tonight at the TD Garden. But overall, he's been impressed by Shanahan and the League's effort to get dangerous checks out of the game.
"I think it's good that it's in the back of players' minds now, that the NHL is not a place just to be running around recklessly anymore," he said. "And I think that's a good thing. And it's good to see they're aware to keep the game safer and to try to take head injuries ultimately out of the game because you don't want to see anyone, your teammate or an opponent, go through any troubles with concussion problems or anything like that."
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have won four in a row and Zach Hamill has proven he can be a serviceable fourth-line center at the NHL level.
Those are just a couple of reasons Gregory Campbell wants back into the lineup even if his fractured left foot is still in pain. Campbell, who has missed three games since taking a shot off his foot in Columbus on Dec. 10, practiced without limitation Sunday and then took part in an optional skate at the TD Garden today.
His availability will be a game-time decision tonight when the Bruins host Montreal.
"It felt actually better than yesterday. So we'll see how it goes," Campbell said.
Campbell admitted that he didn't remove his skate after he blocked the shot that injured him. He played the rest of the night with the fracture in his foot. Now he says it actually feels better when he's skating than it does when he's walking, especially when wearing shoes, because of the pressure that gets put on the injury.
If he faces the Habs, Campbell will take some precautions.
"I had the trainers punch [my skate] out a bit just so it relieves a little bit of the pressure," he said. "That's kind of the main thing. At the beginning I couldn't even put my foot in the skate. And if I play, I'm sure I'll put a hard, protecting pad or shield over it just in case I block another shot there."
Campbell played in 80 games last season, so his Bruins career hasn't included many nights on the sideline. He wants to keep it that way.
"It's not fun," he said about sitting out. "But I think the silver lining is that our team is playing extremely well. So it's fun to watch us win. It's not fun to not be a part of it. I want to be involved in the success of the team, but injuries are part of the game."
"Our lineup is one that's probably the most uncertain so far this year," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team's optional morning skate.
Gregory Campbell, who has missed the last three games with a fracture in his foot, practiced Sunday and this morning. He could return to the lineup. Meanwhile, the Bruins are awaiting word on Milan Lucic's status after the forward had a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan about his hit on Zac Rinaldo in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Rich Peverley only took one shift in the third period Saturday and didn't practice Sunday. The Bruins could opt to rest the veteran forward as well.
The Canadiens held a full skate, including forward Travis Moen but minus P.K. Subban. Moen should be back in the lineup tonight after missing two games with a lower-body injury, while Subban's availability is in doubt.
"We're evaluating him. He's a little under the weather there, so we'll let him get his rest and make a game-time decision tonight," coach Randy Cunneyworth said about Subban.
Carey Price was the first goaltender off after the skate for Montreal, so he should start in net. An educated guess would be that Tim Thomas will start for Boston because Tuukka Rask skated while Thomas took the option to not go on the ice.
Here's a look at the projected lines and D pairs for both teams:
Paille missed one game after he suffered a mild concussion in the first period of last Thursday's game against Florida. He did not return to that game and missed Boston's win at Columbus two nights later.
He started skating for the first time Monday during a non-contact practice and took the morning skate with the Bruins today. Paille said he's been symptom-free since the hit but was held out of the game and activity for precautionary reasons.
BOSTON – It’s been almost a month since Steven Kampfer played in an NHL game.
The second-year defenseman will get back into action tonight for the Boston Bruins when they play host to the Los Angeles Kings at TD Garden without captain Zdeno Chara. Other than two conditioning games with Providence in the American Hockey League earlier this month, Kampfer has spent a lot of time practicing.
He’s only played in five games all season after he skated in 38 games for Boston and 22 for Providence last season as a first-year pro.
“That you’ve just got to take every day and get better,” said Kampfer about the biggest lesson this season has taught him when asked after Boston’s morning skate. “It’s a learning process when you come in as a seventh [defenseman]. They want you to learn things. So I think that’s been the main aspect of the year so far.”
So what has Kampfer learned from Day One of training camp until now?
“[I’m] moving my feet more, more confidence,” he said. “Definitely the skating aspect of the game has definitely helped. So I think using that confidence will help out.”
Coach Claude Julien wants Kampfer’s confidence level to be pretty high in order to produce the way he can, regardless of how many minutes he winds up playing. He has one assist in the five games he’s played, and has averaged a little less than 12 minutes of ice time before contest.
“A player like that just has to go out and he can’t be afraid of making mistakes, and you’ve heard every coach say that,” Julien said. “You just go out there and play, play with confidence and if you’re afraid of making a mistake, you’re going to make a mistake. … He’s worked really hard, we’ve done some extra with him in practice, kept him in the best shape possible and he’s had a couple of games in Providence, where they felt he played really well. So he just needs to bring that with him tonight … he’s a player that skates really well and he can move the puck when he feels good and he’s confident about his game, that’s what he brings to us.”
Stevens, an assistant coach under Terry Murray, was named interim coach after Murray was fired Monday.
"It was a pretty somber mood here today," Stevens said after running the morning skate. "I think Terry has an enormous amount of respect from every guy in that locker room and certainly everybody affiliated with the team. So it's not surprising that there's a very somber mood over the team. That's why we felt it was very important to skate as a group today and just kind of work through it. But it's a process you have to go through. There's no quick fix for it, there's no lightning in a bottle. We talk about the process all the time, but it's very important that we work through the process because of what just transpired."
Stevens, who had been running the Kings' defense during games, will slide down the bench and run the forwards, with assistant coach Jamie Kompon running the defense. While the coaching roles change, the goal for everyone with the 13-12-4 Kings continues to be to live up to the expectations that had many picking the Kings to be near the top of the Western Conference.
"It was a difficult day yesterday for everybody," said Stevens. "I mean, (we were) taken by surprise and then a quick turnaround to try to get ready for Boston here. So I'm not going to lie to you, it's not an easy thing to go through. Certainly not for us. I think we all have to take some responsibility here for the situation we're in, and that goes for Jamie and I, as well.
"There’s big expectations on this team, and the ironic thing is that it's because of the great job that Terry did here. That's why we're considered a team that can do damage in the West, is because of the respect that he's brought here during his time here. So what better challenge than the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Boston Bruins?"
BOSTON -- The Bruins will definitely have lineup changes when they face the Kings tonight, with Zdeno Chara (leg) and Gregory Campbell (foot) definitely out. Steven Kampfer will move in as the sixth defenseman.
Daniel Paille was awaiting the result of his final medical test so he could be cleared for game action after suffering a minor concussion last week. Zach Hamill is up on emergency recall, and head coach Claude Julien said the former first-round pick would most likely fill in for Campbell because of his experience as a center.
Assuming Paille's cleared, expect Jordan Caron to be a healthy scratch and the lines to look something like this:
There hasn't been much of an opportunity for the slumping Kings, who are the League's lowest-scoring team and have lost four in a row, to make major changes to their approach to the game. So captain Dustin Brown says it's more about him and his teammates having a better mental outlook when they take the ice against the Boston Bruins tonight and going forward.
"In regards to how we play the game, I think it's more about our attitude. Honestly," Brown said after his team's morning skate at the TD Garden. "The difference, the parity in the NHL now, especially in the West. Teams are so close. It's more about the type of attitude we bring to the game and we have to have a better, more hungry attitude. We weren't a hungry team and we've got to get back to getting on the puck and having that attitude, that swagger. You look around at the top teams in the League, they all have an attitude.
"Minnesota's probably a good example of that. I don't think if you look on paper you'd think they're the best team in the League. But right now they're playing with attitude and we as a team, as a group of players, have to find that attitude."
Stevena said not to expect "wholesale changes" to the Kings' lineup tonight, so they'll probably go with the lineup they practiced with yesterday:
BOSTON -- For the first time since he was traded to Los Angeles last December, Marco Sturm returned to the TD Garden today.
The Panthers winger has played for four teams (including Florida) since he was dealt out of Boston in a salary-cap crunch. In more than 300 regular-season games with the Bruins, Sturm scored 106 goals, including the famous game-winning goal in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
Maybe his biggest goal as a Bruin came in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against Montreal in 2008. The Bruins were in the playoffs for the first time since the lockout and Sturm's goal capped a wild victory that allowed the eighth-seeded Bruins to push top-seeded Montreal to a seventh game.
"It's fun and it's a little bit weird too," said Sturm about his return to Boston after the morning skate in preparation for tonight's game against the Bruins. "It's been a fun time here. I had a lot of good years here, I really liked it here, and now I'm on the other side."
Sturm admits that at first last spring, he wasn't all that interested in what the Bruins were doing. As they moved closer to their Stanley Cup championship, however, Boston earned Sturm's rooting interest.
"After they kept winning and winning, I knew they had a pretty good chance," he said. "I don't know, the happiness took over because I knew this group of guys and they deserve it."
While Sturm wasn't around for Boston's capturing of the ultimate goal, he was a key component in the change of culture for the Bruins. Winger Shawn Thornton lauded Sturm's ability to life everyone's spirits today, and coach Claude Julien was grateful for what Sturm brought his clubs on and off the ice.
"Well, Marco was one of those guys that, his last few years he had some pretty bad injuries and going back to those days, I know that he ... really wanted to feel part of the team and he was doing things from the outside, getting guys ready, bringing in some stuff before playoffs and kind of giving them little things that would kind of make us or solidify what we were as a team," Julien said. "As a player … at that time, we didn't have a ton of speed up front and he certainly brought that and that's what we liked about Marco was his speed and he could come off of the wing and then take that shot."
BOSTON – Florida head coach Kevin Dineen is enjoying something of a homecoming today with his Panthers visiting TD Garden for a showdown with the Boston Bruins.
After years of battling the Bruins with the Hartford Whalers in his playing days, Dineen has maintained ties to the region.
“It’s always good. I guess we’d consider ourselves New Englanders,” he said after the morning skate. “I married a Hartford girl, and we’ve spent a lot time here, specifically in Portland the last six years. So it’s just fabulous to be back in the area.”
Dinner coached the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League the last six seasons.
The Panthers are schedule to have two new players in their lineup. Krys Barch was just acquired in a trade with Dallas, while Mikael Samuelsson should return after a 20-game absence with a lower-body injury.
“We’ve waited a long time for Sammy,” said Dineen. “We’re going to slowly matriculate him into our lineup here and I think it’s going to be well worth the wait. He’s a quality player and a great individual and he’s going to add a lot to our mix right now.”
Jose Theodore missed the Panthers’ last game with the flu. He practiced yesterday and took the morning skate, so Dineen said starting the veteran is an option for tonight.
Here are the Panthers’ probable lines and D pairs:
BOSTON -- One game as a healthy scratch was obviously enough to convince the Boston Bruins that Tyler Seguin learned his lesson for missing a team breakfast and meeting.
Seguin was absent Tuesday morning from a team gathering in Winnipeg, and was subsequently scratched from that night's 2-1 loss to the Jets.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said Seguin is scheduled to be back in the lineup tonight, when the Bruins host the Florida Panthers at the TD Garden.
"I talked about it the other day. I already kind of moved on and I'm ready for the next game," Seguin said after the morning skate.
The second-year forward, who leads the Bruins in scoring, was forbidden from speaking further on the matter. Julien had no intention of addressing the subject more either.
"All I know -- this is old news. This is two days old and for us, we've really turned the page on that," Julien said. "It's not even an issue today, and old news is old news. We've moved on, so I don't even know that I want to go back to that. He's fine and I'm fine. He's in the lineup tonight, he's going to be playing and I think unfortunately, you guys are trying to make a bigger story out of this than it is. He's missed a game, he's paid his dues. It's a 19-year-old that is fine with us, he's a good professional, and that's it. Page turned and we move on."
Rask brings a 3-3-1 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and .921 save percentage into the game against the team that originally drafted him. He last played on Nov. 25 in a shootout loss to Detroit, the only loss by the Bruins in more than a month.
Tim Thomas, the Bruins' usual goaltender has a nine-game winning streak that will apparently stay at that number for one more night. Thomas was in goal Wednesday when the Bruins won 6-3 at Toronto, their third victory against the Leafs in as many meetings this season.
Reimer will be playing for the first time since Oct. 22, when he was hit by Montreal's Brian Gionta. He's been out with what the Leafs labeled "concussion-like symptoms."
BOSTON – Toronto coach Ron Wilson told goaltender James Reimer during practice Friday that he would get the start Saturday night against the Boston Bruins.
Because of that the Maple Leafs' pregame skate at TD Garden had a little different feel this morning for Reimer, who has been out since he was hit in the head by Montreal's Brian Gionta on Oct. 22 and started suffering from concussion-like symptoms.
"It's more exciting, that's for sure. The last week, week and a half, I've been taking morning skates, but in the other net and staying out there until 1 or longer and working as hard as I can," said Reimer after he was the first goaltender off the ice, which was the first public acknowledgement that he would start. "So today it was a lot more fun to get in there, feel the puck, get a little sweat on and come off when you feel you've had enough shots."
BOSTON – The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to try for the fourth time to solve the Boston Bruins, and a victory would mean no worse than a share of first place at TD Garden tonight.
Toronto will have James Reimer in net for the first time since he began suffering concussion-like symptoms Oct. 22. The Maple Leafs will also have some extra-interested spectators among the Garden faithful, as this is Toronto’s “dads’ trip.”
“It’s good for the dads, but I want our players to appreciate that they do have a dad who can watch them and all of the support,” said Toronto head coach Ron Wilson after his team’s morning skate. “You don’t get to this level without the support of your parents. And that’s the one big, strong thing in hockey, whether it’s Canada or the United States, it’s the involvement of the parents to get them to this level, because it’s certainly a financial burden, and a time burden as well. You’ve got all those 5 o’clock [in the morning] practices, and you’ve got to get to the rink and your parents are completely dedicated to your love of hockey because they have the same thing, and they share their passion with their sons.”
BOSTON – His team’s win Wednesday night in Toronto ran its point streak to 13 games, but that didn’t prevent Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien from seeking out areas his club can improve.
After all, the Bruins got into a bit of a run-and-gun game with the Maple Leafs for stretches of their 6-3 victory.
“I think we didn’t play as well, as far as closing the ice, which is part of our game,” said Julien today after his team’s morning skate in preparation for its rematch with the Leafs tonight at TD Garden. “It’s not about being better defensively, it’s about closing the gap quicker. To me there’s a difference there – playing them a little tighter. Certain teams are good skating teams, and the more room you give them the better they are. I just felt we gave them a little bit too much room in that game in Toronto and got away from our game a little bit. But that’s just something you need to adjust.”
Some of Julien’s charges also saw the error of their ways despite the positive end result.
“I felt like there was a lot of lulls,” forward Milan Lucic said. “Even though we did win 6-3, I felt like there was some lulls in our game that we need to touch up on because if we keep making some of the mistakes that we did last game, it will definitely wind up in the back of the net more so than it did last game.”
Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice and should get the start tonight. Here is the rest of the Bruins’ projected lineup:
BOSTON – He only played seven minutes during the Boston Bruins’ postseason run to the Stanley Cup championship last season.
But Shane Hnidy made many more contributions to the Bruins’ cause off the ice, by providing verbal encouragement to his teammates and imparting knowledge on Boston’s younger players. That was what Boston brought him back into the fold to do in the middle of last winter, and it paid off with a Stanley Cup ring.
Hnidy is now the color analyst on radio for his hometown Winnipeg Jets, who play the Bruins at TD Garden tonight for the first time this season. Although he filled just a bit part in Boston’s 2011 triumph, Hnidy still attracted the type of media attention normally reserved – as he pointed out – for the likes of Shawn Thornton.
“I’ve always said, when you win a Cup you’re forever bonded with that city and those guys,” said Hnidy. “It’s a real special feeling every time I come back to Boston, every time I see the guys. It’s a memory that lasts forever.”
Like his Hall of Fame-bound Bruins teammate Mark Recchi, Hnidy’s last official on-ice act in the NHL was hoisting the Cup. He says his transition from player to analyst has gone smooth with some help from his colleagues.
While he played more games in places like Ottawa and Atlanta, Hnidy’s rugged style of play was always perfectly suited to being a Bruin.
“When I put on that jersey, it felt right. It was a jersey that, you put on a Bruins jersey, you’re proud to wear it and there’s something special about it,” he explained. “To be able to come back and raise that Cup while wearing a Bruins jersey is another moment that you’re just going to remember forever and there’s always going to be a Bruin in me.”
Both players, who were prized prospects once projected as cornerstones of the Boston franchise, were shipped to Atlanta in the same trade last February – a deal that made Rich Peverley a member of the Bruins.
For the first time since Boston raised the Cup and put a banner in the rafters, Stuart and Wheeler returned Saturday to TD Garden as members of the Winnipeg Jets. While Stuart said he spied the banner, Wheeler admitted he forgot to look up at it during his twirl on the ice during the optional morning skate in preparation for tonight’s Bruins-Jets clash. Wheeler said he’d be sure to check it out before game time.
Both players, who live nearby one another in Minnesota during the offseason, admitted to watching some of the Bruins’ championship run on television, and viewing the drama with heavy hearts.
Wheeler explained that having Stuart close by to lean on and talk about it with made the disappointment easier to swallow.
“It was a weird feeling,” Stuart said. “You’re happy for those guys, you’re happy they won, and the also it’s tough to watch because you want to be there and you want to be part of it.”
Added Wheeler: “It was gratifying, but it was hard at the same time. You want to be a part of it but you certainly take something out of it just watching the guys that you played with for so many years. That was the hardest part of getting traded, Stewie and I both knew that it was a very real possibility that that was going to happen. And to see it come true certainly was kind of mixed emotions, for sure.”
BOSTON – These days, Rich Peverley is a key contributor in all situations for the Boston Bruins, armed with a three-year contract extension he signed last month and a Stanley Cup championship he earned with the Bruins in June.
Not that long ago Peverley was a longshot skating in the ECHL and American Hockey League after his career at St. Lawrence University. Every player’s success story requires a coach or two to help move things along, and Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel was one of those guys for Peverley.
The forward skated for Noel with Nashville’s Milwaukee (AHL) farm club in the middle of last decade.
“He was a guy who gave me a real opportunity in the American League when I got called up from the Coast League,” said Peverley today after the Bruins’ morning skate in preparation for tonight’s game with Noel’s Jets at the TD Garden. “He gave me an opportunity at the American League level, and I was really thankful for that. He played an important part in my career, helped me out a lot and he’s a really smart coach, he’s very passionate about the game and he doesn’t like to lose. So he brings a good winning mentality over there.”
Noel says he could tell Peverley had the necessary skills to achieve a career at the game’s highest level as long as he put the work in and stayed on track. Noel also said after he moved on to coach in Columbus, he had the Blue Jackets put in a waiver claim on Peverley, who wound up moving on to Atlanta via the waiver wire.
“We brought him in and he was really good. Showed a lot of skill,” Noel recalled. “Same skill set that he has now, only he’s matured. But he’s come a long way, he’s done a great job. … And I’m really happy to see that he’s turned into a key player. He’s always been a good player. He’s a conscientious player, when he was a little younger, he just didn’t have the experience when he was young. But he had such good skill and speed, it was evident to be really early that if he did his part he could get himself potentially to the National Hockey League.”
BOSTON – Winnipeg arrived at TD Garden this morning to prepare for its game with the Boston Bruins having picked up at least a point in each of its last five games (4-0-1).
Concluding their three-game road trips against the defending Stanley Cup champions, however, might be the Jets’ stiffest test in some time.
“This is our third game in four nights, so for us it’s important that we wrap our heads around what we’re going to be facing tonight,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel after his team’s optional morning skate. “This is a well-coached, well-managed team. You don’t win the Stanley Cup by accident. They defend very well. We’re going to have to battle for every inch of ice in this game tonight. And if we don’t put our hard hats on tonight, it’s going to be a challenge.”
The Jets’ lineup might look a little different than it did Friday during their win at Carolina. Defenseman Ron Hainsey, who suffered a setback after returning to action from a 16-game injury absence, will be a game-time decision, according to Noel.
“He feels a lot better today, so we’re going to see how he’s doing this morning and we hope that he’s in the game tonight,” said the coach.
BOSTON – Although they had their 10-game winning streak snapped Friday by Detroit, the Boston Bruins don’t feel as though they’re heading into the game Saturday night against Winnipeg at TD Garden on a completely sour note.
“I think it’s to be able to duplicate the effort we had yesterday,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien about his team’s focus against the Jets after the morning skate. “I thought our effort was pretty good. It’s a matter of carrying that into our next game. We all know how these streaks sometimes end and kind of deflates the bubble, and we don’t want that to be the case for our team. We just want to keep plugging along here. Like I said we won some games along the streak that maybe we didn’t quite deserve and we lost one yesterday that probably deserved better fate so it balances out. We just got to stay focused and bounce back.”
After backing up Tuukka Rask Friday, Tim Thomas is expected back between the pipes for the Bruins tonight. He’s second in the league in both goals-against average (1.85) and save percentage (.936).
Now they're back at TD Garden as teammates trying to get the Columbus Blue Jackets out of 30th overall in the NHL.
Wisniewski was a key defenseman for Montreal, which lost a seven-game series to the Bruins. The Bruins then swept Carter's Philadelphia squad out of the second round.
"Obviously losing Game 7 in overtime, and they went on to win the Stanley Cup," Wisniewski said about what he remembers from last spring. "They worked hard, we worked hard and they came out on top."
Carter has some mixed memories from his visits to Boston with the Flyers because last season's disappointment was preceded by the miraculous 2010 comeback from 3-0 down in the second round.
"A little of both, probably," Carter said about his Garden memories. "We always had some pretty good games against these guys in this building, a lot of playoff games and regular season games and what not, so it's nice to come back."
While all playoff series are physical showdowns, Wisniewski got into it with many members of the Bruins, both during the playoffs and the heated regular-season series between the longtime archrivals.
"Obviously it's just the heat of the battle. That's what you've got to try to do to win games," he said. "Anything goes out there, so things like that happen and you just kind of forget about it. And when the battle comes back, you answer the bell."
Wisniewski and Carter are hoping their team answers the bell soon before it's too late. Columbus has lost four of its last five games.
"It's obviously been a tough stretch for us, not the way we wanted to start off the year," Carter said. "But the last bunch of games here, we've been doing some good things, getting to find our identity and maybe not coming out with the wins that we want, but taking steps in the right direction."
Sanford has played just one game so far this season -- a relief appearance Oct. 8 at Minnesota. He missed 11 games with the injury before he backed up Steve Mason in the Jackets' loss to the Wild Tuesday.
"We get a chance here for Curtis to finally get a game in," coach Scott Arniel said after his team's morning skate. "No bigger stage, obviously, against Boston. He's excited. He was pretty frustrated because he got hurt the day before his last start and we kept him away from too much work [Wednesday] so he'd be ready today. But if he can give us a spark, that's what we need."
The switch to Sanford in goal won't be the only change for the Jackets, who should have Derick Brassard back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for two straight games.
"He's a proud guy and he doesn't want to sit out games and I think that his game had slipped a bit. But Derick … he's a skilled guy that can make plays," Arniel said. "A team that's looking for offense, we can use him. If he plays hard and competes hard, that will go a long way toward him having success."
BOSTON -- The Bruins will try to extend their current winning streak to seven games when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the TD Garden tonight.
They might have a different-looking lineup than they had when they beat New Jersey Tuesday night.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk missed the morning skate with flu-like symptoms and is questionable for tonight, according to coach Claude Julien. Regardless of Boychuk's status, Andrew Ference is set to return from a two-game absence with a lower-body injury. Ference practiced for the first time since his injury Wednesday.
Up front, forward Daniel Paille is also a possibility to return. He has missed three games since suffering a broken nose Nov. 7 vs. the New York Islanders. Here's the Bruins' projected lineup factoring in returns by Paille and Ference:
BOSTON -- The Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller collision from Saturday night's Boston Bruins-Buffalo Sabres game has become a hot-button issue around the League.
There was no shortage of talk about it in both dressing rooms this morning at the TD Garden after the Bruins and New Jersey Devils completed their morning skates. Lucic had a hearing with the NHL on Monday but received no supplemental discipline. During the Bruins' win, he was assessed a two-minute minor for charging.
Boston coach Claude Julien was asked about a possible alteration to the rule about contact with the goaltender or the possibility of limiting a goaltender's ability to move out of his crease.
"There's a difference between a hit and a collision. And that's always going to be a gray area in everybody's minds," Julien said. "Some people are going to call certain things a hit, some people are going call it a collision. I mean, as far as I'm concerned as a coach, I'll abide by any rule they want to put in there. If they say you can't touch him at all, then it's you can't touch him at all. If they keep the rule the way it is, then let's keep the rule the way it is.
"I know for a fact that if Milan had intended on hitting him, he would've never got up. We all know how hard he hits. So that speaks for itself."
New Jersey netminder Johan Hedberg will be tasked with facing the Bruins tonight. He doesn't think goaltenders have a right to expect special treatment.
"That's what I don't think is right. You have to respect the game in the game, too," he said. "You can't expect the rules to protect you at times. That goes for everybody, including us as goaltenders. Who knows, the guy might be coming in full-blast, he looks away, he doesn't see that you're out there and you've got to make sure that you're ready for it. I think it's part of the game."
Hedberg and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask both recalled instances where they were in a position like Miller was and got hit. Rask said he understands that sometimes these incidents with contact are unavoidable.
"Everybody knows it. That was just an accident," he said. "Everybody knows that you don't try to take a goalie's head off or anything. Things happen in the game. It's just part of the game and sometimes accidents happen."
As for Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff's comment that by the League not suspending Milan Lucic it's declaring "fair game" on goaltenders, the Bruins didn't want to engage in much of a war of words.
"No comment on that. They can say whatever they want," Rask said.
Added Julien: "That's just talk. We're certainly not going to get into that. People get frustrated, people talk and you don't hold those kind of things against people like that. They're entitled to their opinion. And you just move along here. We can't react to everything that's being said out there. Everybody has their own opinion, and we're just happy it was dealt with the way it was and we're ready to move on."
The Bruins and Sabres next meet Nov. 23 in Buffalo.
BOSTON -- Now that Bruins forward Milan Lucic has escaped supplemental discipline from the NHL after his collision with Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller on Saturday night, the Bruins should field the same lineup against New Jersey tonight that they had in the win over the Sabres.
"I guess from our end of it, we were convinced it wasn't deliberate. We were hoping that that's the decision that was going to be taken, and it was," coach Claude Julien said.
Lucic had a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday afternoon. Lucic, who addressed the matter with the media after Monday's practice, was not available to speak after the Bruins' morning skate.
Daniel Paille, out with a broken nose, skated with the Bruins again today. He is now able to breathe through his nostrils and said he's getting close to being 100 percent. He could be ready for game action by the end of the week.
Defenseman Andrew Ference, who is out with a lower-body injury, skated on his own before the team and is day-to-day.
Tim Thomas should get the start in goal. Here's the rest of the Bruins' projected lineup:
Kovalchuk, who has missed the last four games due to a groin injury suffered Nov. 3, stayed on the ice beyond the regulation morning skate along with the Devils' healthy scratches and goaltender Martin Brodeur, and originally New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer confirmed he would sit out at least one more game.
"Another step in the right direction. He feels good," DeBoer said. "He hasn't taken any contact yet or through a full practice, so we just felt it's the right thing to do."
However, following DeBoer's initial meeting with the media, he spoke with Kovalchuk again and the forward will take part in the pre-game skate, according to newspaper reports. The Bergen Record and Newark Star-Ledger reported it is possible Kovalchuk could face the Bruins.
Johan Hedberg will start in goal. The Devils should have their hands full with Bruins team that has won five in a row.
"We're obviously aware of it. We're aware that they're on a roll," said DeBoer, whose team is 4-1-0 in its last five. "We have to try to take them out of that comfort zone early by playing well defensively and having people in front of them. We've got to get another road effort like we had in Washington."
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- In defending the actions of his player Monday after practice at Ristuccia Arena, Bruins coach Claude Julien not only spoke to Milan Lucic's intentions but also a past incident that should shed a little more light on what went on when Lucic and Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller collided Saturday night.
Lucic was scheduled to have a 1 p.m. phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday.
"I saw the same thing [as Lucic explained]," Julien said. "It certainly wasn't our plan to run him over and for what it's worth, Looch has done the same thing to one of our coaches [assistant Geoff Ward] last year. He buries his head when he chases the puck, by the time he lifts it up, somebody's there. Last year was a coach, this year was Miller."
The Lucic-Miller collision occurred in the first period of the Bruins' 6-2 win against the Sabres after Lucic blocked a shot at the Boston blue line. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound forward lost the puck and was trying to catch up to it when the contact, which knocked Miller's mask off, happened.
"At first, I was skating as hard as I could after the puck and I looked up and he was still in his net. And when I looked down at the puck, I was continuing on and the next thing I look up and he's coming out full speed at me," Lucic said. "Obviously it was a hard collision and I did everything I could just to brace myself. Like he said, I have 50 pounds on him. So that's probably why he might've got the worst of it. Even if you look at the video, I was cringing after the play, too, because I was winded, because it was such a hard collision. He got a good piece of me as well and that's pretty much it."
Miller not only finished that period, but also played in the second. After the game Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said Miller had a sore neck, but Sunday the team revealed the goaltender was suffering from a concussion.
"If you look at it, I've looked at the hit 100 times because he said that he got a concussion. I've looked at it and his shoulder hit my chest, so there was no hit to his head," said Lucic. "His helmet came flying off, but his head didn’t hit the ice. Later on in that period, one of their guys lifted [Tyler Seguin's] stick and threw him into the net as well. So who knows what it was? But I mean it's obviously unfortunate that he got hurt on the play."
Lucic said he was surprised that Miller was able to continue in the game if his collision was the one that caused the concussion.
"With the new protocol and the concussion stuff, I know the last three NHLPA meetings that I've been part of, they've clarified about concussions and head injuries, the main thing that they talked about is there's no such thing as getting your bell rung or seeing stars anymore," said Lucic. "That's considered a concussion. And if you're in that position, you have to do whatever you can to take yourself out of play. And obviously, Ryan plays a big part in the NHLPA and what he does, and I respect him what he does there. That's pretty much it."
After the game, Miller directed some expletive-filled comments toward Lucic through a brief media scrum. Lucic was taking a "sticks and stones" approach to those words.
"Obviously he felt like he needed to stick around and say what he said," said Lucic. "For me, (in) one ear and out the other, I just move on and focus on what I need to do to continue helping this team be successful."
Lucic is currently second on the Bruins with 14 points and 8 goals. His past discipline history includes a fine for a punch in a scrum last December and a one-game suspension for a hit after the whistle during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoff series with Montreal.
Julien, who stressed that he didn't want to talk about any League decision that hadn't been made yet, still pointed out that there have been similar incidents in the past that didn't result in bans.
"You've seen it before. Guys run over goaltenders," said the coach. "At one point, [Carey] Price [had that happen] in Montreal, stuff like that. You’ve seen collisions. [Montreal's] Brian Gionta on Toronto's goaltender [James Reimer], he's not that far out but he's out of his crease and he's coming across.
"I mean there shouldn't be game plans to run goaltenders over. I'm all for that. To say you put traffic in front of him is one thing. To run him over, I disagree with that. So again, it just kind of reinforces that it certainly wasn't meant to happen that way."
BOSTON – The Boston Bruins welcomed a surprise visitor to their morning skate today at TD Garden in preparation for their game with Buffalo tonight.
Forward Daniel Paille, who suffered a broken nose last Monday when he was hit in the face with a Steve Staios slap shot, skated for the first time. The wing underwent surgery Wednesday and went through a light workout at the Garden Friday. He has to breathe through his mouth, but said there’s not a lot of pain right now.
During the skate, he wore a full cage for the first time, he estimated, since he was 15.
“At first, when I put it on, I had to look through the holes,” he said. “But after a while I kind of got used to it, you just kind of ignore it. So it’s a certain adjustment, but I think after a couple skates I’m going to get used to it.”
Paille will not play tonight but said he hopes to be able to get into a game sometime next week. He can take some tips from teammate Chris Kelly, who famously wore a cage after a facial injury during last spring’s playoff series with Montreal. Kelly went on to record six points in his next six games with the cage on.
“He’s got the white in the back of the cage so you kind of see more clear,” Paille said. “He just says that with time, you won’t even notice it. So I’m just waiting for that moment.”
BOSTON – The Buffalo Sabres have won four in a row, including a 5-1 victory Friday night against Ottawa.
But tonight against the Boston Bruins they’re still going to make a slight lineup change because forward Patrick Kaleta is scheduled to return from a four-game suspension.
“Sitting out’s not the best feeling in the world,” said Kaleta after the Sabres’ optional morning skate at TD Garden. “But I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, getting back into the routine and I’m ready for a big game tonight.”
Kaleta was suspended Nov. 4 for head-butting after he jumped into a crowd of players battling for the puck and struck Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek in the chest and face. In announcing the suspension, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan pointed out that the latest incident was Kaleta’s third in less than two years. The Buffalo wing says he’s attempting to mend his ways.
“You learn from your mistakes,” he said. “And like I’ve been saying for the past little while here, it’s about changing my game and I’ve been working pretty hard at it since the beginning of summer. It was a little bump in the road, but you can’t let it bother you and you come back and play the same way I was before.”
BOSTON – After giving backup goaltender Tuukka Rask consecutive starts this week for the first time this season, the Boston Bruins are going to turn back to Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas for a Northeast Division showdown Saturday with Buffalo at TD Garden.
Picking between the man who’s been the world’s best goaltender for more than a season and the club’s promising No. 2 has forced coach Claude Julien and his staff to strike a delicate balance.
“We do [have the world’s best goaltender] and he’s also 37 years old, he also played 111 games last year and all that stuff is taken into context,” Julien said. “We feel comfortable with Tuukka as well in net, that he’s a good goaltender and at the same time you want to make sure that your best goaltender remains your best goaltender by not over-utilizing him and we know as the season goes on we’re going to have to be relying on both of those guys. And we want him to be as fresh or as good as possible near the end of the year. It’s an 82-game schedule and we’re kind of gauging it that way, taking the fact that you’ve got 82 games, you’ve got two goaltenders, you have to do that once in a while. It’s just part of a plan.”
The Bruins held a full morning skate today with everyone except the injured Andrew Ference (lower body) on the ice. Ference is out for tonight and day-to-day with that injury.
BOSTON -- Those hoping for a goaltending matchup of last season's Vezina Trophy winner and this season's early front-runner for the award will be disappointed when the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers hit the ice tonight at TD Garden.
Neither Boston's Tim Thomas, who won his second Vezina in three seasons back in June, nor Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin, who leads the NHL with an 0.98 goals-against average and sits second with a .964 save percentage, is scheduled to get the nod for his respective team.
Instead, there will be a showdown of two of the better young goaltenders in the League.
Tuukka Rask was first off the ice for the Bruins after their morning skate, as was Devan Dubnyk for the Oilers. Edmonton coach Tom Renney later confirmed Dubnyk's starting role.
"Well, it's not difficult to be honest with you," Renney said about the decision. "We have to play back-to-back here, and it's one of those situations where 'Dube' has to play too. This is a big, strong team. I think this is tailor-made, quite honestly, for Devan to see this team and see their attack. His size and strength, it sort of lines up well for those circumstances. But this is the part of the schedule that we looked at in September and suggested to ourselves that at least we would have to make sure that they at least split."
Rask has not started consecutive games this season. He comes into the Oilers game fresh off his first win and carries a 2.00 GAA and .931 save percentage. Despite a 2-3-0 record, Dubnyk has been solid with a .930 save percentage and 2.19 GAA.
Pouliot, who projects to skate on a line with Jordan Caron and Chris Kelly, missed the Oct. 29 game in Montreal with an illness and has been a healthy scratch the last two games. He's still looking for his first point of the season and is minus-3 in eight games. Famously he's stated numerous times the adjustment to Boston's system has been a slow process.
"I think we've talked about it a lot," said Pouliot after the Bruins' morning skate. "It's just the little things. It's not much, but it's something that can affect your game or the whole team's game. So I can't really mess that up and just try to focus on one thing. We'll be all right."
Peverley's absence could open up even more time for Pouliot's projected linemate Caron. In addition to some more 5-on-5 time, Caron might have to add penalty-killing to his list of responsibilities.
The rookie forward has kept Pouliot out of the Boston lineup with his assertive play, including serving as a net-front presence during Boston's pivotal victory over Ottawa last week. While he has yet to show up on the score sheet this season, Caron has establishing his presence with physicality.
Playing with Kelly and Peverley has helped Caron gain confidence.
"I think they're both very good players and very patient with the puck. So I'm just trying to make room for them and skate and go to the net hard and doing the dirty stuff in the corners and stuff like that," he said. "They're smart players. And I'm just trying to do my job. That's what I did in junior, that's why they brought me here. And I'm not going to change my style, I'm just going to play the same way I always did."
Without Peverley, the test for Caron will be to take a larger role while continuing to do what’s made him successful. And for Pouliot tonight will be all about making it difficult for the Bruins to take him out of the lineup again once the forward corps is completely healthy.
BOSTON --New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano plans tonight to stick with what earned his team a long-awaited two points Saturday night, except when it comes to his goaltending.
Capuano revealed that Evgeni Nabokov will start tonight and be backed up by Al Montoya. Rick DiPietro started the Isles' three previous games, including the slump-busting 5-3 win over Washington Saturday. The Isles had been 0-4-2 in their prior six games.
While Nabokov missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, Montoya has been healthy but inactive since Oct. 20. Of the six games over that span, Montoya didn't even dress for two.
Capuano said he's not worried about rust on Montoya.
"No, like I said earlier, I just concentrate day to day and Nabby will go tonight," the coach said. "Just like our team, whether it's the D or the forwards, it's a day-to-day process with our lineup."
The Islanders juggled their lines to start the Caps game, and it paid off with a rally from 2-0 down. While the lineup in front of the goaltender will stay the same, the Isles are hoping that translates into a similar performance and in turn a victory.
"It was big. It was against a pretty good hockey team that's playing really well," star forward John Tavares said about the Washington victory. "So it was definitely big for us. But we've got to learn how to bring that every night and have that consistency in being able to win victories likes that. And we haven't played too well on the road (0-2-1), so this is a good test for us tonight. It's time to move on and focus on what we have to do to be successful tonight and throughout the rest of the year. But it was definitely a good feeling though to get the confidence up and see the results."
BOSTON -- The Bruins are riding their first winning streak of the season into tonight's home date with the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.
But their lineup will look a little different against the Isles than it did in victories over Ottawa and Toronto.
Forward Rich Peverley, who played Saturday night in the rout of the Leafs despite missing practice the two days prior, will miss the Isles game, according to coach Claude Julien. Peverley also missed practice Sunday.
"It's a minor, undisclosed injury and he needs a few more days. … But it's not getting better. So we're allowing him to take a few more days," Julien said.
Tuukka Rask is scheduled to make the start in goal. He's winless through his first three starts with a respectable goals-against average of 2.71 and a save percentage of .906. His last start was Oct. 29 in Montreal, a stretch of two games.
"It's unfortunate that his record doesn't indicate the way he's played," Julien said about Rask. "But for the most part, we've failed in front of him. Everybody knows that that's seen the games, that we haven't given him much help and we haven't played that well in front of him either. So he's got an opportunity tonight to win his first game, and it's up to all of us, him included, to be solid and the rest of the team to continue to play the way we have lately."
BOSTON -- Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is back in net on Tuesday after not starting in Montreal on Saturday night. He will be opposed by Ottawa veteran Craig Anderson, who like Thomas, was rested by his team in its last game -- a 3-2 home win against Toronto on Sunday.
Thomas brings a 3-4-0 record with 2.14 goals-against average and .929 save percentage into the Bruins-Senators game at TD Garden. Anderson has a 6-2-0 record wit a 3.66 GAA and .881 save percentage for the surprising Sens.
BOSTON -- Although they're riding a six-game winning streak into tonight's game against the Bruins at TD Garden, the Ottawa Senators know this might be their stiffest test yet.
Of their six victories, only one came against a team that qualified for the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And the 7-5-0 Senators this season are just 1-3-0 against last spring's playoff participants.
So Ottawa isn't looking at tonight's game as if it's against a 3-7-0 also-ran.
"It's a benchmark game for sure," said center Jason Spezza after his team's morning skate. "They're, we think, one of the best teams in the East. I don't care what the standings say, they're Stanley Cup champions and have some great players and three deep lines and six real good defensemen and one of the best goalies in the League. So this isn't a team you take lightly. This is an arena that's hard to come in to play in. They clog things up and make it hard on you. And for us we just have to make sure we're on the top of our game tonight or else, they'll make it a long night for you."
Coach Paul MacLean is confident his team is aware of the challenge ahead.
"We shouldn't have to remind them of that because we are playing the Stanley Cup champs and as soon as you walk into the building or you look at anything, the press notes and the banners, it all says Stanley Cup champions, and that's very well deserved," MacLean said. "No matter what their record is, they're still the Stanley Cup champions and we know we're going to get a good game. We know that we have to be at our best to have an opportunity to win this game."
With Kaspars Daugavins re-assigned to the Binghamton (AHL) farm club after Sunday's win at Toronto, Erik Condra skated in his place on the third line during the morning skate. Zenon Konopka should dress and skate on the fourth line after he was a healthy scratch against the Maple Leafs.
Such is life on a 3-7-0 team that's searching for any type of spark to turn its season around.
"It kind of gives you a sense that maybe they're still trying to search for the right combination," Corvo said after Boston's optional morning skate at TD Garden in preparation for tonight's game against Ottawa. "And also, it kind of gives you a sense that maybe they're not that happy with the pairings or they don't feel like they're the right situations for guys. I would say until things start to go well, we put some wins together and some guys have played with the same guys, then you'll see more solidified pairings."
The Bruins went awhile last season without set pairs. And when they needed to turn things around in the playoffs, they made one switch (led by the pairing of Chara and Seidenberg), which they stuck with until they hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Boychuk says it's a conquerable challenge dealing with changed-up pairs.
"Everybody's just playing with everybody. It hasn't been too bad, chemistry-wise," he said. "We know that we can play with each other. You just make sure, who you're playing with … if you're playing with different guys, different guys have different tendencies and you've just to make sure you remember who you're playing with."
Only a few Bruins skated this morning, but here's what their lineup should look like:
BOSTON – Forward Benoit Pouliot’s only three-point game of the 2010-11 season while he was with Montreal was against his former team, the Minnesota Wild.
So maybe Thursday night against the Canadiens will be the game Pouliot breaks out as a member of the Boston Bruins.
“I think everyone would agree with that,” said Pouliot when asked about the having extra motivation against a former team after the Bruins’ morning skate at TD Garden. “You face your old team, you obviously want to prove ‘Hey, you didn’t want to keep me, I’ll show you.’ But … it pumps you up even more, I think. Obviously it’s going to be my first game against Montreal, we have plenty of them all year long, so I see this as just a little boost at the same time. Just play the same way I’ve been playing and rack up the points.”
Unfortunately for Pouliot and the Bruins, the way he’s been playing hasn’t led to racking up points. He has yet to hit the score sheet in any form through eight games in black and gold. Assuming he’s in the lineup Thursday night, he’ll skate next to center David Krejci and right winger Nathan Horton.
Despite the lack of production, Pouliot, the No. 4 pick by Minnesota in 2005, says that Boston has been a better fit for him than Montreal.
“It’s just a matter of knowing what you do right or wrong, not hiding it – let the guy know and he’ll work on it,” said Pouliot while obviously comparing Bruins head coach Claude Julien to Montreal coach Jacques Martin. “And it’s something that Claude’s been good to me so far. He’s been talking to me. The assistant coaches talk to me all the time, video and stuff. For me personally, I just have to show up and work hard, be consistent every night. And I think in practice and in games, so far things have been going well. Maybe not the points, but everything else for me was to work hard, so it’s good so far. We’ve just got to start winning games and things will be OK.”
BOSTON -- After beating Philadelphia, 5-1, last night in Montreal, the Canadiens did not hold a morning skate in preparation for their evening matchup with the Boston Bruins tonight at TD Garden.
Health permitting, this will be the first time Montreal forward Max Pacioretty and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara have been on the ice together since the incident last March, when Chara hit Pacioretty into the stanchion between the benches at the Bell Centre. Pacioretty suffered a fractured vertebrae and concussion, but has recovered and now leads the Canadiens with 9 points (4 goals). He scored twice against the Flyers.
After practice Wednesday, Chara responded to a question about being on the ice with Pacioretty by just saying "I'm looking forward to playing the game."
Pacioretty's early-season success means the Bruins will have to keep an eye on him for the right reasons.
"I can tell you honestly, the one thing we're happy about -- and that would be for anybody else -- is that he's healthy," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "As a player in the League, you don't want to see somebody end his career on an unfortunate accident. But what you want to see is a player come back and be healthy. As far as that's concerned, he's healthy, we've turned the page and now it's time to move on."
Bruins forward Benoit Pouliot was on the other side last season when the Chara hit on Pacioretty occurred. He doesn't expect anything extracurricular to unfold tonight.
"I'm sure Z, it's not something he wanted to do, obviously. It was a vulnerable position for 'Patch' and he got hurt. It's unfortunate that that happened, but I think it's in the past and we didn't really talk about it," Pouliot said. "I don't think it's something that … maybe the fans and them are anticipating something, but we're just playing our game. Big Z is Big Z; he's been awesome. So I don't think it's going to be a big deal."
Here are the lines and D pairs that finished the victory over the Flyers last night and are expected to face the Bruins:
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins, who went through a major shake-up of their top three forward lines last week, should have a slight tweak to that alignment tonight when they host the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.
During their morning skate, the Bruins went with the same alignment coach Claude Julien used in practice Wednesday, with Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton swapping their right-wing spots. So here's what the lineup would look like:
In five games this season, Krejci has just one point (a goal). Horton has posted 2-2-4 totals in eight games, so there's hope that reuniting the center and the winger who clicked so well last season will get both going. The onus might be on Krejci, the playmaker, to get Horton going. But Krejci looks at it as more a mutually beneficial situation.
"Right now, I'm not going the way I want myself," said Krejci, who's only three games into his return from a core injury. "So it's good to have him on my line because we've done it before. Once one guy was down, the other guy helped him out. So hopefully we can build each other up and get back to our form."
On defense, Adam McQuaid has been cleared to play for the first time since suffering a neck injury in Carolina on Oct. 12. Julien said he would most likely play, which would make Steven Kampfer a healthy scratch. While Kampfer was hurt, fellow second-year pro Matt Bartkowski was holding down that sixth defense spot.
"Obviously his experience, when you compare him to the other two guys," said Julien about what McQuaid brings to the table. "He's a very physical player, great at winning battles in the corners. And when he's on top of his game, he makes a good first pass, keeps his game simple but very effective. And that's what Adam's brought to this team and that's why Adam was a big part of us winning last year because he brought that night in and night out."
While Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice, the Bruins as a team exited after the morning skate in a single file all at once. So we won't know if the Bruins are going with Rask or Tim Thomas until the pregame warm-up. Based on the current pattern, it would be Rask's turn because he has played every third game so far.
BOSTON – When he crashed into the end boards in Chicago a week ago, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid could not imagine what was in store for him.
Although he appeared to avoid a concussion, doctors haven't been able to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with him, so McQuaid's injury has been treated like a concussion. For the most part, it's been classified as a neck injury.
He started practicing with the team early in the week, but was then pulled out for a couple days.
The optional skate at TD Garden this morning in preparation for the Bruins' game with the San Jose Sharks was his second straight day back on the ice.
"I'm actually feeling really good. So it's been a bit of a process to get back to where I'm at right now. I'm feeling good and we'll see from here, I'm not really sure for tonight or anything like that," said McQuaid after he stayed on the ice a little longer than the rest of his teammates.
Coach Claude Julien said that McQuaid's status was still up in the air as of this morning. Once McQuaid gets medical clearance, the coach can then reconsider inserting him back in the lineup.
For now, second-year defenseman Steven Kampfer is filling that spot as the team's No. 6 defenseman. And McQuaid's frustrating start to the season, which started with an illness that scratched him from the Bruins' first game, continues.
"That's the thing that there's been a few different things – being sick before this – so we're not really sure what's causing what, so we had to rule out different things," said McQuaid about the frustration. "So that's probably slowed things down a little bit as far as not knowing it's this so we can treat exactly this. But I'm feeling good now and moving forward."
BOSTON – Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer came out of his regular-season debut with no issues Thursday night against Toronto.
The second-year rearguard had missed the Bruins' first six games with a knee injury that occurred during the preseason. In the win against the Maple Leafs, he logged 12:28 of ice time and recorded an assist.
"It's a nice feeling when you come off an injury and you can ease into a game like that and start feeling a little bit better," said Kampfer after the Bruins' morning skate today in preparation for tonight's game with San Jose at TD Garden. "It's been something that's gotten better every day, so I look forward to tonight."
In the third period, Kampfer and his knee passed the ultimate test – a big hit, partially leg-on-leg, at the blue line on the forecheck by Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul.
"I didn't really think anything of it," Kampfer said. "I think I was more admiring my pass and it was a good hit by him. There was nothing else in that. I was admiring my pass and I shouldn't be. And he got the better of me on that hit, so good for him."
The perennial All-Star has been back many times since he was dealt to San Jose in November 2005, but this time things are a little different because for the first time in 39 years the Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"I enjoy it. I still have quite a few friends here and we usually get to stay the night, so it's nice," said Thornton about being back where he was drafted in 1997 and played his first seven NHL seasons. "I always love coming back. It's a great sports town and I have a lot of fond memories here."
Although most of the names and faces in black and gold have changed since Thornton's days on Causeway Street, he said he still keeps in touch with the training staff. And once he and the Sharks were knocked out of the playoffs by Vancouver in the Western Conference Final, Thornton said he backed the Eastern Conference representative while watching the Stanley Cup Final.
"I was actually cheering for them in the finals. You know after losing to Chicago [in 2010] and Chicago hoisting it up, and it would've been hard seeing Vancouver hoisting it," Thornton said. "So I was cheering for them and I've still got a lot of friends over there. So I was happy for them."
Thornton reached 1,000 NHL games played Friday night in New Jersey, and also scored his first goal against the Devils. Although he's a veteran, it wasn't that long ago that he was a teenager who was projected to be the player that would bring the Cup back to Boston. However, he says he never reflected on Boston's triumph that way.
"It's so long ago, you're just so consumed with what you've got to do in San Jose, there's no ‘what ifs,'" he said.
BOSTON – Despite getting in late after winning a shootout in New Jersey last night, the San Jose Sharks showed up at TD Garden this morning for an optional skate.
Some players took the ice, while others opted for an off-ice workout. To a man, however, the players were all in a better frame of mind since the Sharks snapped a three-game losing streak.
"A win makes you feel a little better than a loss. It doesn't matter how you get it, where you get it," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, whose team takes on the Boston Bruins tonight. "Guys feel a little bit better about themselves. The fact that we were able to stick with it an come back is rewarding as well. But the task ahead of us just gets tougher tonight. We know, obviously, how strong this team is, how well they play at home and we'll have our hands full."
The Sharks' win against the Devils came with a cost, as forward Torrey Mitchell was injured in the first period. McLellan ruled the winger out for tonight with an upper-body injury. Andrew Desjardins, a healthy scratch in New Jersey, is the top candidate to fill Mitchell's spot.
The Sharks might also feature a change on defense, as Justin Braun was recalled from the Worcester (AHL) farm club.
"There are a couple of D-men who have struggled in our opinion the first two games. And we'll give [Braun] an opportunity to win a job," said McLellan, who also noted that Braun was cut after a strong training camp because of the Sharks' depth not his performance.