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Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 5:26 PM

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

With schedule released, Penguins gear up again

PITTSBURGH -- Douglas Murray doesn't input his week's plan into a Blackberry, and he doesn't plot out a training schedule with a pad and pencil.

Still, the hulking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman said he prefers to look ahead when settling into a routine.

Finally, Murray and the Penguins know what's coming when.

The NHL released the schedule for the Eastern Conference Finals late Tuesday night, ending a four-day period in which the Penguins were in limbo. Pittsburgh, which eliminated the Ottawa Senators with a Game 5 conference semifinal victory Friday, opens the series with the Boston Bruins on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Consol Energy Center (NBC, CBC, RDS).

"You always want to know the schedule, for sure," Murray said. "You base your everyday decisions on it. It's not like I write up a schedule or anything, but when you've done this for as long as you have, you learn to manage your time. You know when it feels best for your body to get that extra massage that you might want or when it's time to rest and time to make sure you don't lay around all day.

"People change their routines once they know the schedule, and I think it's good we know now."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 3:01 PM

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

Bartkowski looking forward to facing hometown team

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien is not worried about defenseman Matt Bartkowski collapsing under the pressure of facing his hometown team in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Bartkowski, who grew up in Mount Lebanon, Pa., loved the Pittsburgh Penguins as a kid. Now he might get to face the Penguins in the Stanley Cup semifinals starting Saturday.

"He seems pretty excited. He's looking forward to it," Julien said after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. "I think at the end of the day he knows who he's playing for and he wants to do well for his team. And the better he does, the better he looks in everybody's eyes, whether it's his hometown that's rooting for the other team or whether it's us. So I don't see an issue with that. I think if anything it's a positive, it's exciting, and you know for sure that he's going to be ready to play."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 2:49 PM

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

Bruins considering multiple options on defense

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- There are so many variables affecting what the Boston Bruins' defense corps will look like when the Eastern Conference Finals begin Saturday night.

If everyone is healthy, the Bruins could try to defend the Pittsburgh Penguins with the same top four defensemen who won the Stanley Cup in 2011: Zdeno Chara paired with Dennis Seidenberg, and Andrew Ference coupled with Johnny Boychuk.

Rookie Matt Bartkowski could be in the mix to play top-four minutes, and Chara and Seidenberg could be split up. With so many days to prepare before facing the Penguins, the Bruins are trying out different scenarios. One drill at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday featured everyone rotating in and playing with different partners every shift.

Anything is possible prior to Game 1, and coach Claude Julien told the media he hasn't ruled out any and every defensive combination

"It's good, because you saw us during the season, we mixed and matched. And you guys kept asking a lot of questions about that and I said, 'You know what? It's important that we do that because at some point they’re all going to have to play with each other,'" Julien said. "And guys can play right that are left shots, or vice versa. And even during the game we still mix and match pairs sometimes. It's not necessarily set pairs that you see on the ice all the time. So that's not going to change."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 2:05 PM

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

Seidenberg taking extra time to continue healing up

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The decision to sit out Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers and not try to help the Boston Bruins complete a sweep last Thursday was difficult for Dennis Seidenberg.

But the veteran defenseman, who returned in time to aid Boston in its ousting of the Rangers in Game 5 Saturday, knows it was the right decision to rest his undisclosed injury another couple days rather than rink further damage.

"I wanted to play Game 4, obviously, but we talked to the coaching staff and the medical staff and we decided together that maybe it was best to hold out one more game and give it a couple more days. I think it was the right decision and, I mean, it was right at the end," Seidenberg said after he took part in an hour-long practice at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 2:00 PM

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

Ference practicing with Bruins, but status uncertain

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference practiced with his teammates Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.

The veteran has been out of game action since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 5. He missed all of the conference semifinals against the New York Rangers and only just recently started skating with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.

As for Ference's availability in the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the blueliner's status is up in the air.

"It's a good sign that he's practicing with us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team followed two days off with an hour-long practice. "I don't know, it's a medical issue that unless the trainers say it's a go -- and sometimes he may be ready but could be risky kind of ready -- I've got to wait and see what the trainers see and also how Andrew feels as well before I make a decision on him."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 5:00 PM

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

Penguins looking to use time off wisely

PITTSBURGH -- Prior to this season, it had been five years since Brenden Morrow experienced the thrill of playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Now that he is forced to wait up to a week between games, you'll have to forgive Morrow if he's feeling a little anxious.

"The engine's kind of idling right now," the Pittsburgh Penguins forward said on the third of what is expected to be five or six days before the team opens the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. "It's tough to shut it down this time of year. The games are coming fast and furious. So to sit and wait is tough for us. I guess it gives an opportunity for some little bumps and bruises to heal up. But I think everyone in the locker room's excited and ready to get started."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 3:43 PM

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

Penguins not buying Lucic's Heat comparison

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh?

Milan Lucic thinks so.

To that, Crosby says thank you very much.

Lucic, the Boston Bruins power forward, told reporters this weekend he views the Pittsburgh Penguins as the equivalent of the NBA's Miami Heat.

Led by James, Wade and Bosh, the Heat are two wins away from their third consecutive Eastern Conference title and can play for their second straight NBA championship after that.

"We appreciate the compliment," Crosby said. "I'm sure he won't have too many once we start playing. I think it's a compliment."

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Posted On Monday, 05.27.2013 / 12:07 PM

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

Bruins' Ference skating, working his way back

BOSTON -- While most of the Boston Bruins players were kept off the ice Monday, two days after their series-clinching win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, injured defenseman Andrew Ference skated with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides at TD Garden.

Ference has not played since Game 5 of the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Ference has been skating for a few days.

"He's obviously on the mend, but not ready to say he's ready to go yet," Julien said during a press conference Monday.

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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 1:41 PM

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

Rask's play positions him for big new contract

BOSTON – For the first time in Tuukka Rask's NHL career, the goaltender has taken the Boston Bruins past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Of course, this is the second season in which Rask has served as the Bruins' No. 1 goalie.

Rask, 26, seems to be getting better as the playoffs roll along, opposed to the way he struggled deeper into the postseason back in 2010. In the five-game series victory against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rask compiled a .936 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average.

The Finnish goaltender seemed to place a smart bet on himself last summer when he signed a one-year contract with Boston. He’ll be a restricted free agent again this summer, seemingly raising his value every night this postseason.

General manager Peter Chiarelli, whose team will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals, said he has no regrets about letting Rask play on a one-year deal.

"I'm happy for him that he's playing well and he's helping the team," Chiarelli said during a press conference Sunday at TD Garden. "It’s always easier to sign these guys after success. He's showing some resiliency, which I like, and some durability, which I like."

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Posted On Sunday, 05.26.2013 / 1:26 PM

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

Chiarelli encouraged by Bruins' improving health

BOSTON – The return from injury of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Saturday left the Boston Bruins with Andrew Ference and Wade Redden among their injured players heading into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

General manager Peter Chiarelli described his team's overall health as "pretty good" during a press conference Sunday at TD Garden. And by the time the Bruins start the series, they might be even healthier.

"We’ve got Andrew out, he's making progress. Wade is close, if not ready," Chiarelli said. "Just the bumps and bruises are minor. We got Dennis back. We're in pretty good shape right now, knock on wood."

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Quote of the Day

I'm sure [my father] was going crazy up there. I hope all of my friends were celebrating in the crowd. Coming back here and all of my friends and family are here, getting a goal in front of them is special.

— Blues forward Ryan Reaves on scoring the game-winning goal Sunday against the Jets in his hometown of Winnipeg
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