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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 12:48 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sanford gets first start of season for Jackets

BOSTON -- For the first time since he suffered a groin injury in practice Oct. 17, Curtis Sanford will see game action for the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

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."

Here's a look at Columbus' projected lineup:

R.J. Umberger - Jeff Carter - Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal - Mark Letestu - Ryan Johansen
Antoine Vermette - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Derek MacKenzie - Derick Brassard - Jared Boll

Marc Methot - James Wisniewski
Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
John Moore - Grant Clitsome

Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason
Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 11:48 AM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Bruins get Ference back, Paille possible as well

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:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Jordan Caron / 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 was the first goaltender off the ice for the Bruins, who all left the ice in a single-file line as has been their new tradition.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:12 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Goalie contact a big issue in wake of Lucic collision

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.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Bruins happy Lucic will be available vs. Devils

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:

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

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Steven Kampfer - Adam McQuaid

Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:25 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Kovalchuk could face Bruins; Hedberg to start

BOSTON -- The New Jersey Devils could have forward Ilya Kovalchuk back tonight when they face the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

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."

Here’s the rest of the Devils' projected lineup:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Nick Palmieri
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Vladimir Zharkov - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov


Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 1:24 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lucic maintains innocence in collision with Miller

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."
Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:55 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Paille skates for Bruins

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.”
Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:36 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Kaleta back for Sabres after suspension

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.”
Ryan Miller is scheduled to get the start in goal tonight after Jhonas Enroth beat the Senators.
Here is the projected lineup for the Sabres:

Thomas Vanek - Luke Adam - Jason Pominville
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Brad Boyes
Cody McCormick - Matt Ellis - Patrick Kaleta

Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Tyler Myers - Andrej Sekera
Marc-Andre Gragnani - Christian Ehrhoff
Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:27 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Bruins go back to Thomas in net

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.
Here is the projected lineup for Boston:

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

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Adam McQuaid - Steven Kampfer

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask   

Peverley has missed the last two games and will be a game-time decision with an undisclosed injury.
Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 1:22 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Nights off for Thomas, Khabibulin

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.

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