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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:37 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Kelly, Ference to wear an 'A'

BOSTON -- It was a mystery all summer and through training camp that everyone tried to solve.

After the retirement of Mark Recchi, the Bruins had an opening for an assistant captain in addition to Patrice Bergeron, the other permanent assistant under captain Zdeno Chara.

It seemed like everyone had an opinion about which player would best fill the void. Today, the Bruins' coaching staff, led by coach Claude Julien, announced that there will be two players wearing the second 'A' over the course of the season. Defenseman Andrew Ference will wear it for home games, while center Chris Kelly will wear it for road games. They will switch their home-road roles after the midway point of the season.

Should one of them be out of the lineup, someone else will get a chance to wear a letter.

"I think all the players and coaching staff kind of agreed that those guys have the personality that gives them that respect in the room," said Julien. "Also, they have that personality that shows leadership in the right way, on and off the ice, and they're highly respected in our dressing room, so our guys really felt strongly here. There didn't seem to be any questions on whether they were the right choices. It really was pretty unanimous overall. So it just became the obvious choices.

"I know Chris has come in late in the season (last season) and I thought when he first got here he was known as a great leader in Ottawa, but he kind of felt his way through before he started showing those qualities to the extreme. And in the playoffs it was pretty obvious what kind of a leader he was and our guys in the coaching staff recognized that.”

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:29 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

3 rookies to make regular-season debuts for Flyers

BOSTON -- The Philadelphia Flyers will welcome eight new faces (nine if you count rookie Zac Rinaldo, who only played for them in the playoffs last season) into their lineup when they battle the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, Versus).

Including Rinaldo, there will be three rookies in the lineup. Rinaldo, Sean Couturier, the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, and fellow forward Matt Read all will make their NHL regular-season debuts.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he isn't worried about his rookies not being ready for prime time.

"I think that we've got some young players here, but they proved themselves at camp that they're good hockey players," Laviolette said. "They've been put in certain roles where we're counting on them to play and we'll keep working with them and teaching them. But their camps were good and they deserve to be here."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:26 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Recchi, Hnidy take in morning skate

BOSTON -- Among those in attendance for today's Bruins morning skate were two key figures from last season's Stanley Cup championship roster who no longer are playing in the NHL.

Future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi and journeyman defenseman Shane Hnidy watched their former teammates prepare for tonight's season-opener against Philadelphia at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, Versus). Both will be part of the pregame banner-raising festivities.

Recchi was an integral part of the team on and off the ice from the time of his arrival in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009 until he raised the Cup last June. While Hnidy played just three regular-season and three playoff games for the Bruins last season, his behind-the-scenes leadership was one of the least heralded, but still important, contributions to the Bruins' cause.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:16 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Jagr from hero to bitter rival for Krejci

BOSTON -- Growing up, Czech center David Krejci hung posters of Jaromir Jagr on his walls.

"Tons of them," the Bruins center said. "But they're all gone now. He's my enemy now, you know."

For the first time in three seasons, Jagr will be an enemy of Krejci and all the Bruins. The future Hall of Fame forward will be in the Philadelphia Flyers' lineup tonight as he plays his first NHL game since leaving to play in Russia after the 2007-08 season.

Jagr said he's not any more or less excited for this game than any other. But he knows his team will have its hands full with Krejci.

"Of course, he's supposed to be our top from the Czech Republic," said Jagr, who was Krejci's Olympic teammate in 2010. "There's no question about it. And he proved it in the playoffs last year. They won the Stanley Cup and now it's going to be a huge challenge not only for me, but for the whole team."

Krejci joked that when he was a kid and Jagr already was in the NHL, he never thought he someday would be on the same ice with his idol, who's now 39. When he was an NHL rookie, Krejci got his first on-ice dose of Jagr and he's prepared for more of the same things from the star forward.

"He's a big body, right? Once he gets going, it's tough to stop him," said Krejci. "He proved it in Russia that he could still play hockey, and he also proved it in the preseason games. So we know he's here to play hockey, he's ready to go. He wants to prove so many people wrong. I'm sure he's ready to go. He's a great player, but he's going to have a tough night tonight."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:08 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Lineup questions for Bruins

BOSTON -- The Bruins might not know until game time which of their new faces will be in the lineup when they open their defense of the Stanley Cup against Philadelphia tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, Versus).

Defenseman Adam McQuaid, a key part of the Bruins' top six last season, missed the last couple days of practice with flu-like symptoms. He skated this morning, but the Bruins plan to monitor his situation over the course of the day before determining if he can play.

If McQuaid can't go, Matt Bartkowski would be one of two newcomers on Boston's back end. Joe Corvo, who was acquired in a trade with Carolina over the summer, is scheduled to play.

Up front, free-agent signee Benoit Pouliot and rookie Jordan Caron alternated on left wing on a line with center Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin during the morning skate. Coach Claude Julien told everyone to come to the rink tonight prepared to play.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 1:11 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Starting lineups

The Flyers and Bruins both skated today at TD Garden ahead of tonight's game (7 p.m. ET, Versus). Here's how their lineups could look tonight based on the lines and defense pairings at today's practice:

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

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference-Joe Corvo
Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski

Tim Thomas will start in goal with Tuukka Rask backing him up.

The defense pairings could change if Adam McQuaid plays tonight. He's been battling a flu bug and will be a game-time decision. If McQuaid is able to play, he would replace Bartkowski in the lineup, but not necessarily play with Seidenberg.

FLYERS
Jakub Voracek-Danny Briere-Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Jaromir Jagr
Scott Hartnell-Sean Couturier-Matt Read
Zac Rinaldo-Maxime Talbot-Andreas Nodl

Chris Pronger-Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen-Andrej Meszaros
Braydon Coburn-Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky backing him up.

The Flyers' defense pairings also could change if the team opts to play Matt Walker tonight in place of Lilja. Walker did not practice this morning, but there were hints that Walker could be in the lineup.

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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:15 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Bruins Camp: Rask ready after surgery

BOSTON -- The Bruins like to boast that they have two No. 1 goaltenders at their disposal.

To start this year's training camp, they at least have two healthy high-caliber netminders. In addition to Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask is back and ready to go after offseason knee surgery.

Rask, who as Thomas' backup posted a .918 save percentage and 2.67 goals-against average in 29 games, had his meniscus scoped early in the summer and started off camp on a healthy note by getting through a 90-minute on-ice session without a problem.

"I feel good," he said. "It's a little, the range of motion is not perfect yet, but there's no pain. So that's a good sign."

There are no limitations on what Rask can do, so as long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks he should be ready for game action once the preseason schedule kicks off.

"I felt good out there. It's only one practice, but we'll see when game time comes how it goes," Rask said.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 2:40 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Bruins Camp: Chara back after mourning Demitra

BOSTON -- It seems like Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is always providing another example of why he's among the hardest workers in the entire NHL.

Despite getting back from Pavol Demitra's funeral in Slovakia yesterday, Chara still took part in the Bruins' second on-ice session today on the first day of training camp at TD Garden.

Chara worked a little on a defense pair with Bruins 2011 first-round draft pick Dougie Hamilton.

Other interesting combinations in the second group of players:

* Chris Kelly centered second-year forward Jordan Caron and free-agent invitee Chris Clark -- maybe that is a preview of the team's shutdown third line?

* Zach Hamill, the Bruins' thus-far-disappointing 2007 first-round pick, between freshly re-signed Brad Marchand and first-year pro Tyler Randell. This is going to be a big year for Hamill, who's now in his fourth year as a pro. Perhaps some of Marchand's insight into what it takes to make it can rub off.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 2:10 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Bruins Camp: No problems for Horton

BOSTON -- It's one thing to work out on your own or skate in games of shinny with your teammates to test whether you're fully recovered.

It's a whole other thing to go through NHL-caliber fitness testing and then an actual two-hour practice.

Nathan Horton, who has claimed for weeks that he's fully recovered from last season's year-ending concussion, said he's come through the early part of training camp with no problems.

"I wasn't worried at all. I just feel like it's in the past," he said after the Bruins' morning session on their first day of training camp at TD Garden. "I hadn't even thought about it. And when I do [stuff] on the ice or do fitness training, it doesn't even cross my mind. I just try to do as well as I can and there's no headaches or anything like that."

At one point Horton took a spill and took out teammate Matt Bartkowski. While it wasn't on purpose, it can only help Horton get a little contact out of the way.

"I fell myself so it was nice. It just feels good to be back," he said.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 1:19 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Bruins Camp: Thornton enjoys day with 'skilled guys'

BOSTON -- One of the keys early in the Bruins' Game 7 win in the Stanley Cup Final at Vancouver was the relentless play of their fourth line.

The trio of Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton centered by Gregory Campbell was ferocious on the forecheck and barely allowed the Canucks to possess the puck, let alone move it out of their own end.

So what was the deal with Paille and Campbell skating with rookie Jamie Arniel and Thornton skating with draft pick Alexander Khokhlachev and rookie Calle Ridderwall during the Bruins' first on-ice training camp practice at TD Garden today?

"Yeah, there's a coup," explained the always-witty Thornton. "They went into Claude's office yesterday and he wouldn't tell me that, but I'm pretty sure put that onto him. No, they wanted to put me with more skilled guys, so I went with the young Russian kid because they felt that might game suited his better."

Thornton, who lives in Boston year round, started skating in informal practices with his teammates a couple weeks ago. So getting onto the Garden ice with his colleagues for something sanctioned by the team under the watchful eye of the coaches was a step up in importance and intensity.

"It felt good. It wasn't ridiculously tough," he said. "It was good to get our legs back underneath us and there's a little bit of rust for everybody, I'm sure. There's lots of time to get ready."
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