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Posted On Sunday, 06.02.2013 / 12:49 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Ference solid in return to Bruins' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference wasn't sure he was ready to join the Eastern Conference Final after being idled three weeks with an injury.

But, he was eager to give it a try Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 at Consol Energy Center.

It turned out he was ready. Ference played a little more than 17 minutes and assisted on the game-opening goal by David Krejci in a 3-0 victory.

“It’s kind of like jumping on a moving train obviously to come in at this point in the season," Ference said.


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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 8:20 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Ference in Bruins lineup for Game 1

PITTSBURGH -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is in the Game 1 lineup for the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After taking part in the pregame warmups Saturday, Ference was inserted into the lineup by Boston coach Claude Julien, who scratched young defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who is from the Pittsburgh area.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 1:25 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins enjoy advantage in faceoff circle

PITTSBURGH -- Though there are many areas in which the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have an advantage in this Eastern Conference Final, the faceoff circle is not one of them.

The fourth-seeded Boston Bruins have dominated draws throughout the postseason, topping the League with a 57.5 success rate. Pittsburgh is at 50. 1 percent.

This could be a key area because if Boston can start with possession of the puck on a regular basis after play stoppages, Pittsburgh's skill players will have to expend more energy trying to regain possession. That means less time spent generating offense.

Part of the reason Boston is so good in the faceoff circle is that they have so many quality options. Five players have taken 90 or more draws for the Bruins during their 12-game postseason run. Almost all have been phenomenally successful.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.01.2013 / 12:12 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Penguins stick with same lineup for Game 1

PITTSBURGH -- If it isn't broken, coach Dan Bylsma and the Pittsburgh Penguins see no reason to fix it.

Over the past week as the team practiced for the beginning of the Eastern Conference Final, several players said the Penguins peaked at the end of their series victory against the Ottawa Senators. Through five practices and a morning skate in advance of Game 1 against the Boston Bruins on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS), Pittsburgh kept its line combinations and defense pairings stable.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they appear identical to what Bylsma utilized in Pittsburgh's 6-2 victory in Game 5 against Ottawa, the most recent game the Penguins have played. Other than veteran forward Brenden Morrow subbing in for rookie Beau Bennett after Game 4 of that series, Pittsburgh largely has kept its lineup and line combinations the same after a period of flux earlier in the postseason.

Against the best faceoff team in the NHL, forward Jussi Jokinen likely will be counted on to win critical draws. Another player who was a healthy scratch when the playoffs began, wing Tyler Kennedy has earned a regular spot back in his customary third-line role. Bennett, Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale appear to be the odd forwards out.

Veteran defenseman Mark Eaton was scratched for four consecutive games earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but has re-established himself as a stalwart in the lineup. Deryk Engelland and rookie Simon Despres are other future options.

Here are the Penguins' projected lines for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final:

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 6:24 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins aren't worried about long layoff

PITTSBURGH -- Despite a sketchy history when it comes to long layoffs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said his team is ready for the Eastern Conference Final despite having a week without a game.

Boston last played this past Saturday when it defeated the New York Rangers to end their second-round series in five games. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had eight days off after eliminating the Ottawa Senators in five games a week ago Friday.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final is Saturday at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Friday, 05.31.2013 / 5:45 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins coach Julien waiting to reveal Game 1 lineup

PITTSBURGH -- When it comes to the Boston Bruins' Game 1 lineup, coach Claude Julien isn't going to reveal anything until game time Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

"There are some decisions that we are going to make tomorrow, going to be game-time," Julien said Friday, minutes after the Bruins arrived at their hotel here. "There are some decisions that are going to be made and that is the beauty of it that we have decisions we can make.

"I'm certainly not going to tip my hand here and tell you guys who is in and who is out because that is the advantage we have in the playoffs and we definitely want to take advantage of that."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:48 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Cooke unconcerned about reception from Boston fans

PITTSBURGH -- It's been almost 39 months since Matt Cooke's brutal hit left Marc Savard with concussion symptoms that have yet to fully dissipate.

Cooke had a short answer when asked if the incident -- and resulting ire he's gotten from the Boston Bruins and their fans -- crossed his mind at all when it became apparent Cooke's Pittsburgh Penguins were going to play Boston in the Eastern Conference Final.

"No."

For Cooke, it's the second consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs series against a team -- and fan base -- that has expressed public indignation toward him. The forward's skate severed the Achilles tendon of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson in February, and the teams faced each other in the conference semifinals.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:19 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins need Rask to continue being their hot hand

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have had the luxury of a hot hand in net through two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Keeping goaltender Tuukka Rask ready to go with so much time off before the start of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday can be a bit of a challenge. But the Finnish phenom is adjusting to the week's rest so far.

"It's more, it's kind of weird, because [sometimes] you finish up a series and you think you're going to have three days off and you don't. You're still emotional and ready to play," Rask said after Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. "But then you get three days off, four days off, you kind of just feel like it's training camp, we're just practicing here. But it obviously isn't.

"I think it's just a mental challenge to know how to relax, but still keep yourself focused and knowing the series will start soon and you have to be ready to go. It's definitely been a different week."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:04 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Jokinen mindful of Bruins' proficiency on faceoffs

PITTSBURGH -- Jussi Jokinen took a moment early Thursday afternoon to accuse many of the Boston Bruins of cheating.

That's OK. He admires them for it -- and takes pride in himself for being able to cheat too.

Boston leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs in faceoff percentage, having won 57.5 percent of its draws heading into the Eastern Conference Final, which begins 8 p.m. Saturday at Consol Energy Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Jokinen is Pittsburgh's best faceoff man at 63.9 percent in the postseason. He has appeared in six of the Penguins' 11 playoff games; of players who have taken at least 92 faceoffs this postseason, the Bruins have the top three players in the NHL.

Patrice Bergeron is winning 63.5 percent of his faceoffs, Chris Kelly 63.4 percent and Rich Peverley 63.0.

Talking with a smile and in a tone that was nothing but respect, Jokinen offered why those three are so successful.

"Lots of times, whoever's best on the faceoffs is whoever finds a way to cheat," Jokinen said. "Who cheats the most so they don't get thrown out.

"It's such a fine line finding out how much you can cheat -- some linesmen let you cheat a little more than others, and Bergeron is one of those guys who does that stuff pretty good and the linesmen let him do that stuff."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins work on some basics during light practice

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After two days off and two hard days on the ice, the Boston Bruins went through a lighter practice Thursday at Ristuccia Arena.

It’s been a challenge for the coaching staff to fill in all these days since the Bruins beat the New York Rangers last Saturday until the Eastern Conference Final starts this Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Practice on Thursday was part of dialing things down before the intensity picks up again Saturday.

"That's what we did today. We just did a couple drills and then we just wanted to work our power play today and penalty kill. So basically the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

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