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Almost Game Time

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
...on an entertaining Day


So today has already been interesting, aside from the big rivalry game this evening.

There was a hug from Hazel Mae, seeing Sergei Samsonov in Montreal blue, white and red, and finding out that the Canadiens Michael Ryder is a pretty nice guy.

How bout that? A very full morning and early afternoon.

The Boston media types (and me) were sitting around talking about nothing.

Hockey jargon came up and Hazel was happy that I agreed with her usage of the word donnybrook to connote a hockey fight. She was even happier that I enjoyed the blooper reel at the end of the latest edition of The Buzz (NESN’s new Bruins show).

Hence the hug. Don’t tell the General.

Oops.

Sammy just didn’t look right in the Canadiens practice gear. I was near the ice when he started skating and when he went over to speak with some Bruins staffers on the home bench, another Hab jokingly said, "Cut the cord Sammy."

After the Samsonov media scrum following the Canadiens practice, I found Michael Ryder and got to speak to him about the Bruins vs. Habs rivalry. That interview is in our latest pod cast.

I hate to say it Bruins fans -- he’s a really nice guy. But wait until he gets on the ice. Ugh…I take that back. He’s a jerk.

Oh well, what can I say, I’m superstitious!

Sorry Mike. Go Bruins.

Lineup
This is a little tough today, but here’s what I know.

Forward Nate Thompson called up, again.
Defenseman Matt Lashoff is already here.
MarK Mowers, Marco Sturm and Andrew Alberts are unavailable.
Brad Stuart and Mark Stuart are on injured reserve.


So here’s what I think.

Lines
Kessel, Bergeron, Murray
Axelsson, Savard, Boyes
Hoggan, Primeau, Donovan
Brookbank, Stastny, Thompson


Defense
Chara, Lashoff
Mara, Jurcina
York, Dempsey


Goal
Thomas (starting)
Toivonen


With some play in the defense, that should be your team this evening.

Morning skate
There was nothing too spectacular from either squad at the morning skate. The Bruins wore all black and took plenty of easy shots on Tim Thomas and Hannu Toivonen before cranking a few nasty ones.

The Habs coaching staff watched on one side of the rink while Patrice Bergeron’s dad kept lookout on the other side, while bull-gang members were busy replacing some seats in the former club areas with nifty new gold and black models -- this takes the checkerboard patter to its logical heights to just below the suites.

And man, the Montreal Press Corps is big.

I was thrilled, temporarily, that Marco, Mowers, Albie, Brad Stuart and Mark Stuart made on-ice appearances this morning.

Even as the shots from his teammates got harder and harder, Thomas looked downright automatic. However, that’s just an observation, as a goalie warm-up does not always indicate his game night performance.

But Tim-may is always fun to watch. He goes from normal, run of the mill looking goalie, to "rabid street hockey keeper" within seconds, and then changes back. Pretty funny actually, especially when the "Timmy Tornado" happens. Oh, what’s the Timmy Tornado -- next time there is a scramble in front of the net, watch Flint’s finest. He will literally attempt to stop it with his eyelashes if he can’t find anything else.

Good trait for a goalie, don’t you think?

Speaking of Thomas, the new Bruins bear on his helmet reminds me of the old WWII fighter plane art that featured ferocious animals and such. It’s very cool.

And one not so good Tim note. He was stealing a peek at Hannu’s Black & Gold MONTREAL brand goalie sticks and trying them on for size…don’t do it Tim!

No offense, but it just weirds me out.

Good News
Kirk Muller, Doug Jarvis, and Guy Carbonneau are not playing for the Habs tonight. But boy, do the Canadiens have some Stanley Cups on their bench and front office. Makes me shiver. Brrrrrr!

Bad News
Saku Koivu, Alexei Kovalev and Ryder are playing tonight. Ugh.

Enough blathering by me
"We’d like to be 7 and 0 right now. It’s not the start we wanted, but we have to work harder, be better in our positional play and work as a team together…I’m not worried about my [stats] and I want the team to win. I will do as much as I can every game."
Forward, Patrice Bergeron, on the team’s start and his stats

"It’s a big game. We’re at the bottom of the standings right now and we want to start climbing in a hurry…we need the two points and we’re going to go after it tonight…I’ve been practicing with Primeau and Donovan, there’s a lot of speed there and they’re strong in the corners. So it’s the same type of roll for me, and I’ll probably get a few more chances and might be matched up against a tougher line. I’ve just got to be strong defensively and do my best."
Forward, Jeff Hoggan, on his move to the third line

"I got the call last night around 7:00 and I drove down this morning…it’s exciting, playing in the NHL, it doesn’t get much better than that…to have an opportunity to play against the Montreal Canadiens IN BOSTON, is pretty sweet."
Forward, Nate Thompson, on being called up for the second weekend in a row

"I was happy to get the call the other night and hopefully we’ll have some fun tonight…it can’t get much better than it’s getting [for me], I am really excited to be [in the Boston Garden, playing the Habs]. The main thing is to keep your emotions in check, obviously with it being a big game. I’ll get there and get the first shift under my belt and have some fun from there."
Defenseman, Matt Lashoff, on his first NHL game tonight

"I want in, I really do. It is really weird, especially the last month here…I haven’t really been in this situation before. At the same time, I am trying to keep my head on straight and just make sure I am ok before I go back…obviously I haven’t been on the team in game situations, but it seems like the guys are very excited to play a home game versus Montreal."
Defenseman, Mark Stuart, on being injured and having to watch the Montreal game

"It’s always nice to have the fans behind you -- the noise and everything. It pumps you up. The louder the crowd, the more you get pumped up…there’s maybe some added pressure [in these rivalry games], but you never get sick of [big games]…I have to approach the game like I know I can, and don’t try to do anything different…My dad’s going to be here, the first time he’s seen me play live in the NHL. I just have to play like I would normally play."
Goalie, Tim Thomas, on the Montreal game
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