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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 6:55 PM

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

Lucic hopes reputation won't take a hit

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."
 

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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 1:18 PM

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

Hamill's success pushing Campbell to return

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."


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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Bruins lineup 'uncertain' for game against Canadiens

BOSTON -- There are plenty of questions about tonight's lineup for the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens before tonight's game at the TD Garden.

"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:

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

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

CANADIENS

Andrei Kostitsyn - Lars Eller - Louis Leblanc
Travis Moen - Tomas Plekanec - Michael Cammalleri
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Mike Blunden

P.K. Subban - Josh Gorges
Hal Gill - Chris Campoli
Tomas Kaberle - Alexei Emelin

 

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 7:04 PM

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

Paille returns to Bruins' lineup

BOSTON – Forward Daniel Paille will make his return to the Boston Bruins lineup tonight against Los Angeles at the TD Garden.

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.

Jordan Caron is a healthy scratch due to Paille's return.


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:26 PM

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

Kampfer getting a chance with Chara out

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.”
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 1:56 PM

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

'Somber' Kings trying to move forward vs. Bruins

BOSTON -- There's an emotional hurdle John Stevens knows he and his players have to overcome tonight when the Los Angeles Kings take the ice against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden.

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?"

Here's the lineup Stevens and the Kings likely will go with, and here's what the Bruins likely will counter with.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 12:50 PM

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

Bruins will play without Chara, Campbell

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:

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

Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid
Johnny Boychuk - Steven Kampfer

Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas




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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 12:46 PM

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

Brown: Kings must get back to being hungry team

BOSTON -- It's been less than 24 hours since the Los Angeles Kings decided to make a coaching change by firing Terry Murray and replacing him on an interim basis with assistant John Stevens.

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:

KINGS
Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Penner
Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Brad Richardson - Andrei Loktionov - Trent Hunter
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Trevor Lewis/Kevin Westgarth

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell  - Slava Voynov
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

The extras on defense are Alec Martinez and Davis Drewiske.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 3:34 PM

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

Sturm makes return to TD Garden to face Bruins

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."



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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 1:29 PM

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

Panthers coach Dineen returns to New England

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:

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Sean Bergenheim
Mikael Samuelsson - Tim Kennedy - Krys Barch

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Erik Gudbranson - Ed Jovanovski
Brian Campbell - Jason Garrison

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