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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 1:38 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Fleury rests, Johnson gets start for Penguins

BOSTON -- Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson has been limited to just one game played since Feb. 19 due to injury.

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.

Here is the projected lineup:

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Deryk Engelland

Brent Johnson
Marc-Andre Fleury



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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 1:22 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Turco starts, Krug to debut as Bruins face Penguins

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.

Here's a look at the Bruins' projected lineup:

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

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug - Greg Zanon

Marty Turco
Anton Khudobin

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Posted On Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 1:10 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Capitals get Vokoun back between the pipes

BOSTON -- After six games out with a lower-body injury, Tomas Vokoun is scheduled to be the Washington Capitals' starting goaltender tonight against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden.

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."

Joel Ward and Nicklas Backstrom both skated for the Capitals but will remain sidelined with their injuries.

Here’s a look at Washington's projected lineup:

Marcus Johansson - Brooks Laich - Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Mike Knuble - Cody Eakin - Keith Aucoin

Dennis Wideman - Karl Alzner
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
John Carlson - Dmitry Orlov

Tomas Vokoun
Michal Neuvirth

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Posted On Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 12:58 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Seidenberg to miss first game this season

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."

Here's the Bruins' projected lineup:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid
Greg Zanon - Joe Corvo

Tim Thomas
Marty Turco

 
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 2:30 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

New Bruin Krug finds situation larger than life

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."


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 12:24 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Peverley quickly returns to form for Bruins

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.

Here are the projected lineups:

BRUINS

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Marty Turco

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Tim Wallace - Trevor Smith - JT Wyman
Ryan Malone - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
Pierre-Cedric Labrie - Brandon Segal

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Brian Lee - Brett Clark
Mike Commodore - Brendan Mikkelson
Keith Aulie

Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 2:12 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins' confidence rising with strong play

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."

The Bruins also are healthier now and their lineup has become more stability. Andrew Ference, Adam McQuaid and Daniel Paille all have played a few games after missing time. The Bruins have reunited last season's playoff defense pairs with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg leading the way and Ference and Boychuk forming the second duo. Newcomer Greg Zanon has started to adjust to the Bruins' system to form a third pair with Adam McQuaid.

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."
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 6:54 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins, Thornton agree on two-year extension

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."

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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:00 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Peverley continuing to work his way back

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley continued on the trail to returning to the lineup Monday when he joined his teammates for their morning skate at TD Garden.

Peverley suffered a third-degree sprain of the MCL in his right knee Feb. 15 against Montreal. At the time, his prognosis was for a return in 4-6 weeks.

Coach Claude Julien classified Peverley as day-to-day.

"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.
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:46 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Carlyle not using Bruins rematch as measuring stick

BOSTON -- The last time the Boston Bruins saw the Toronto Maple Leafs, Randy Carlyle was behind Toronto's bench for just his second game as coach and his first in front of the home crowd.

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."

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jordan Caron
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas will start in net, with Marty Turco the backup.
 
MAPLE LEAFS
Clarke MacArthur - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Carter Ashton - Mikhail Grabovski - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Dave Steckel - Tim Connolly
Jay Rosehill - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn

James Reimer will be in net, with Jonas Gustavsson the backup.
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Quote of the Day

Now we have an 'X' next to our name, which is nice. Now we have to keep trying to climb and catch these guys.

— Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth and trailing the Canadiens by one point for the division lead
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