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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 1:00 PM

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

Leafs hope to solve struggles against Bruins

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.”
   
Here is the Leafs’ projected lineup:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joe Colborne - Dave Steckel - Philippe Dupuis

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 12:52 PM

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

Bruins still rolling but seek improvements

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:

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

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

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask
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Posted On Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 2:39 PM

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

Jets analyst Hnidy enjoyed time with Bruins

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.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 1:25 PM

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

Ex-Bruins Wheeler, Stuart back in Boston

BOSTON – Although they didn’t get to hoist the Stanley Cup last June with the Boston Bruins, Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler still played a role in ending Boston’s championship drought.
   
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.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 1:08 PM

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

Jets coach Noel helped Peverley reach NHL

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.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 12:53 PM

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

Surging Jets ready for stiff challenge from champs

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.

Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:

Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Alexander Burmistrov - Tim Stapleton - Eric Fehr

Mark Stuart - Dustin Byfuglien
Eric Bogosian - Johnny Oduya
Ron Hainsey - Mark Flood

If Hainsey cannot play, Arturs Kulda would again be in the lineup.

Ondrej Pavelec should get the start in goal.


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Posted On Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 12:37 PM

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

Bruins look to start new streak

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).

Here is the Bruins’ projected lineup:

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

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

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask
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Posted On Friday, 11.25.2011 / 1:04 PM

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

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Bruins

BOSTON – The Bruins will put their 10-game winning streak on the line today against Detroit with Tuukka Rask in goal at TD Garden.
   
Jimmy Howard will start for Detroit, which has won three in a row.
   
The Bruins will also be looking to avenge a home-and-home sweep by the Red Wings in February.

Here is the Bruins’ projected lineup based on pre-game warm-ups:

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

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

Here is the Red Wings’ lineup based on pre-game warm-ups:

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Danny Cleary
Jiri Hudler - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall
Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Jakub Kindl - Brad Stuart

Detroit outscored Boston, 10-3, last season in those two February meetings.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 6:34 PM

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

Rask gets the call for Bruins

BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask will get the start in goal when the Bruins host Columbus tonight at TD Garden.

Rask backed up Tim Thomas during the Bruins' prior two games. During Boston's six-game winning streak, Rask has earned two victories.

Rask brings a a 2-3-0 record, 2.62 goals-against average and .908 save percentage into the matchup with Curtis Sanford and Columbus, which is last in the overall stadings at 3-13-1.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Bruins face old foes now united as Blue Jackets

BOSTON -- Defenseman James Wisniewski and forward Jeff Carter were key components of the first two teams the Boston Bruins vanquished last season en route to the Stanley Cup championship.

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."


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Quote of the Day

For us it's a little bit different. I've never been in front of this much media. This is more than we've ever had to deal with in Tampa. I guess we're on a little bit bigger stage now. It's nice, you have to enjoy it. This doesn't happen too often.

— Lightning forward J.T. Brown after his first Media Day experience on Tuesday in preparation of Game 1 on Wednesday