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Bear Essentials: Atlanta vs. Boston

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.
Happy to be here folks. Just thrilled to be in the building.

I'll tell you this, and I was telling the many of the Bruins who were not here last year, this is the most fun I have had covering the team. And this is the best the club has played in my time in the building (three years). Period.

We are beginning to harken back to the days when I covered college hockey and the Bruins overshadowed anything that any of the local universities were doing on the ice.

Moreover, this club EXPECTS to win. It's no longer a shock to be on a positive streak. And that Volkswagen sized chip on their B's shoulder pads just gets bigger and bigger as the hockey world (and the media outside I-495) continues to be surprised by the Boston Bruins.

And if you are wondering how things go when things don't go so well: When they do lose (or more recently when they fail to get two points), this team is really, really angry.

BTW, If you haven't yet been in for a game, come on in. And make your arrangements, soon!

The B's still have a bunch of home games and, although last game sold out, there are some seats remaining for today.

Tuesday against the Panthers would be a terrific first game! Click for tickets.

If you need any extra motivation -- perhaps you are B's fan, or Boston sports fan, who was discouraged by the last few seasons -- this is a totally, totally different group and this group is asking for you to join the turnaround.

Those waves to the crowd from Milan the other day were aimed directly at you, the fan and he  and all of the other players in the locker room acknowledge that the final piece to the playoff pie might be in the person of the Boston faithful.

I have seen it first hand this season. The 7th Player, the fan, is a huge part of making the playoffs. End of sermon...

As for today's contest, there is no morning skate -- but there is media availability at 10:30 a.m., so I should have some quotes here in the Bear Essentials a little bit after 11 a.m.

We'll have the same set up on the site -- I'll blog my way through the game, and we'll have a recap posted after every period and a final story after the game.

Storylines today:
Public Enemy #1: Habs in first place in the Northeast, one point behind NJ
Filibuster?: Ottawa is only four points ahead of Boston for fifth in the Northeast
Catch Up: Boston has played the fewest games of any of the top eight in the East

And the best one…
Dream On: The Bruins are only sixth points out of FIRST in the East.
Paging Mr. Tyler, Mr. Steven Tyler…

But first, there are the Atlanta Thrashers.

ATL is 3-6-1 in their last ten and have lost five in a row. Wounded, but still kicking, the Thrashers boast sniper Ilya Kovalchuk (41 goals) and goalie Kari Lehtonen (2.96 gaa, .912 sv%) and have added, amongst others, Colby Armstrong, who brings talent on both sides of the puck in a sandpaper wrapped package.

I want my city back...
Mighty Mighty Bosstones anyone? I was listening to one of my favorite songs, "I want my city back" and thought to myself that the time that they sing about was probably around the time that the Bruins were in, yet another, heyday.

That would be around the time many of us were in college, The Rat and The Deli Haus were fixtures in Kenmore Square and you were just as likely to see Bruins gear around town as you were any of the other clubs in the vicinity. And, when our beloved Terriers, Huskies, Crimson or Eagles were on the road or in class, you had to scalp a ticket to get into the old Garden to see Ray and the boys kick some serious tail.

Up around 95, sailing down Storrow Drive
Left exit into Kenmore Square
Slowed down when I got there
And that's when it was crystal clear
It wasn't there, it wasn't where
I left it, when I left it
I want my city back
Back the way it used to be
I want it back the way it was...

BUT...did anyone notice a floodgate full of Black & Gold news washing over the Hub?

Yesterday, the Big Show on WEEI had Peter Chiarelli on during drive time and there seem to be more and more news reports on the clubs doings. I think that I see more and more B's gear on the streets and I also read one account of Bruins gear being sold in malls down in Southern Connecticut (um, er, traditional Rangers territory). Hmmmm.

Now, obviously all this is great, but Our Boys need to keep playing well, and obviously, winning. And, don't forget that includes two against the streaking Habs -- n'est–ce pas?

11:22 a.m.
If you want to start your hockey day early, the New England Hockey Journal Show got Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette at 11:20 and Patrice Bergeron to take calls from fans at 12:30. Mick Colageo, Kevin Dupont and Matt Kalman broadcasting live from TD Banknorht Garden from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. They can be heard on 890AM, 1400AM and online at

For more pux, “The FASTHockey Radio Show” can be heard live every Saturday on “NHL Home Ice” XM 204 and you can also listen in at and This Saturday Brian Malone joins James Murphy as a special guest-host in studio. Former NHLer and five-time Stanley Cup champion Esa Tikkanen joins the crew as part of a new segment “Around the globe." Team USA PR guru Dave Fisher will discuss the 24-hour hockey game being put on by USA hockey.

11:23 a.m.
Coach Julien started this morning by saying, "I think everybody knows that when you are winning hockey games it's a lot more fun coming to the rink. It's a lot more fun getting on the ice,  but in order to have that fun you have to be willing to do what it takes to win those hockey games.

"Last game was probably the perfect example with [Savard] taking a hit to make a play, Sobotka blocking shots -- two in a row -- and then taking a slash to get the puck out of our own end. So, the guys are doing what it takes to make sure those little things that make a difference in the game [get done].

"Now, I think we are all taking a lot of pride in doing those things. When your players start doing things that they might not like to do, but know will give you success, that's what makes the difference."

11:38 a.m.
In case you haven't left for the rink yet, a reminder!:

Boston Bruins' forward, P.J. Axelsson invites you to P.J.'s Pajama Party during the Bruins game on Saturday, March 1st at 1:00 p.m.

Boston Bruins wives and volunteers from Cradles to Crayons will be collecting NEW and UNUSED pajamas at turnstiles as fans enter the game.

Fans are encouraged to wear their pajamas and to bring a new pair of pajamas to donate. Please help P.J. and Cradles to Crayons provide these basic essentials to those children in need!

11:54 a.m.
Chuck Mangione on the PA! Feels so good! Gotta love it!


The earliest "Let's Go Bruins!" of the season. One hour and three minutes before the game.

Strong Work!

12:09 p.m.
Some more from B's Head Coach Claude Julien

On the Bruins position in the standings…
"You don’t have to remind the team about any of that stuff really except the importance of the game; it really takes care of itself.  Everybody is aware of that.  You don’t want to be negative by saying it could slip out and you don’t want to be overly optimistic by saying we’re X-number of points out of first.  Basically, I said that all along.  We’ve had success with short-term goals and that’s what we’ve stuck with, short-term goals.  And sometimes it can be a weekly thing and sometimes it’s a night after night, worrying about that certain game.  We’re a better focused team doing it that way."

On Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara and the team's physical play…
"I think he’s been good all year.  No doubt, within the last month, people are seeing the point total creeping up as well and getting better.  And I think that’s why people are seeing a better “Z”.  But, at the same time, I think he’s been outstanding for us all year.  He’s a valuable commodity to have back there especially when you play teams who have those superstar players that can take pucks from one end to the other.  Tonight’s not a different night when it comes to that.  He’s done a great job.  He’s had to play against top players all season long and he’s excelled at it.  But, now it’s nice to see him get rewarded at the other end also with some goals and some great plays.  Obviously, all players want to get a little bit of that. 
On the team’s physical play…It’s about a team figuring out what it has to do to win hockey games and what it takes.  Every team has its own identity and we’re a team that realizes that it’s not made of a bunch of superstars, but a bunch of hard-working guys that have skill, but know that they’re a much better team when they work together and doing the things that they have to do to win hockey games.  Finishing checks has created scoring chances for us and guys are seeing that so they just continue to do it."

12:30 p.m.
This should be the lineup:
Chara-Wideman (sg)Thomas
Ference-Ward (bg)Auld
Stuart-Hnidy Go Bruins!

Hedberg is in goal for Atlanta. He is 13-20-2, has a 3.30 gaa and has not played since Feb. 15.

12:47 p.m.
For those of you who are used to the running recap, I am going to keep it here, and Angela Stefano, my intern, is going to continue to write the in-depth recap that will be posted after each period and at the end of the game. That frees me up to blog and put together another story later. So make sure you make us your home page and check back often. JB

1:04 p.m.
A very loud greeting for Our Boys. But Atlanta came flying out of their locker room, too.

First Period
0:00: First line out to start the game.

3:00: Or so. Lucic grabbed the puck to a quiet smattering to "Luuuuuuuuch" and had on of his opponents bounce off him.

4:15: Chuck Kobasew, killing a penalty goes through Hedberg, out of his crease, in a battle for the puck -- no call. And there shouldn't have been a call.

6:06: Glen Murray completes an outstanding effort for his line. Marco Sturm gave pursuit of the puck into the zone, Marc Savard came up with it and Muzz did what he does.

Savard (59) remains in the lead for assists.

6:41: Some of the starch comes out of the building as Ilya Kovalchuk beats Tim Thomas on a penalty shot. It was a terrific shot that beat Timmy cleanly. Not much the B's goalie could do.

10:01: Some outstanding play from the Metropolit line leads to a power play.

12:49: Make a wish! 7:11 on the scoreboard. Game tied, 1-1.

20:00: Things slowed down considerably in the second half of the period.

First Intermission: Had the pleasure of introducing my little friend Aedan to Patrice Bergeron. You should have seen the little man's eyes when Patrice said, "Hello."

Second Period
2:10: Nothing much doing yet.

8:17: The B's a missing a little of the hop that they had last game, today. I wonder if the time of day matters.

Five-on-three for ATL. Uh oh.

11:10: Timmy is becoming a huge factor in this game. He has been very solid since the penalty shot and was sharp in a scrum on this two-man advantage.

Big Zee (I was informed that is the proper way to spell his nickname, because in Europe "Z" is pronounced Zed) literally threw two people out of the Boston crease -- much to the delight of the Boston fans.

14:32: Metro and the boys just had another outstanding shift and had at least three scoring chances.

15:07: Five-on-three for Boston!

17:18: Oh no! A two-on-one developed off the end of the Bruins lengthy man-advantage and Slater scored for Atlanta. 2-1, Thrashers.

19:29: Coach has flipped around his lines and Muzz ended up with Savvy and Sturmie. Muzz hit the post and in the ensuing pile up the B's ended up with a period-ending power play.

20:00: Outstanding effort for Boston in the last minute. But I am sure that Coach Julien will be breathing fire during the second period -- this is a real opportunity for the Bruins to garner at least a point, especially when they have to face the retooled Washington Caps on Monday.

Second Intermission: I took a walk.

Third Period
1:00: Lucic just destroyed Colby Armstrong.

4:48: More zip this period -- no goals yet.

7:50: Nervous stomach.

10:28: Another sold out game. Thank you, Fans!

11:53: Krejci scooooooooooooooooooooooooores! While falling to the ice. Lots of hard work in that one, folks. It's 2-2. And it is three straight games with a goal for Dave.

13:30: Loudest "Lets Go Bruins" chant of the season. Terrific! Followed up with Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" on the PA. Nice touch.

15:03: Crucial PK.

17:05: Zee was outstanding. Dominating.

18:00: Gonna have to tell Luch they weren't booing -- "Luuuuuuuuuuuuch."

I love the crowd in this period!

19:27: Pile up in front. Zee cleans house.

20:00: Tied after regulation. A well-earned point!

1:35: Stomach ache.

3:17: Metro almost ends it. Nice save Hedberg.

4:18: Timmay! His clearing pass was intercepted, but the B's keeper came through.

Save Hedberg. Save Timmay! Score Phil! Save Timmay! Save Hedberg. Save Timmay!

Bruins Win! Woooooooo!
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