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Bear Essentials: February 20th

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
4:26 p.m.

Post practice, Coach Julien found himself talking about another good session.

"Obviously you see guys that seem to be well-rested," said the Coach. "We've had such a heavy schedule that I think the timing was perfect to have games in this area and have time to relax a little bit but not lose our focus.

"The guys have been working hard in practice, so that hasn't been an issue.  Now it's us for us to prove it in games."

And everyone seems ready for the next challenge.

"Yeah, I think you've seen it coming along," said Julien. "Last game was certainly a good game for us... in a lot of areas.

"When your specialty teams score four goals out of the five, and two shorthanded goals, and two power play goals – a lot of the things we've been looking for happened, and that was great for our hockey club.

"Right now it's just about maintaining that, and you hope that we go into the next game with the same confidence you finished with in the last one."

1:32 p.m.
I could have sworn I saw world class figure skater Kimmie Meissner skating on the other rink.

1:09 p.m.
Nickname suggestion for the Bitz, Yelle, Thornton combo -- the BYTe line. As in, "That line has bite."

I like it. Bears bite, and those three tend to give opponents a bit of a roughing up, no?

12:57 p.m.
The Bruins are in Coral Springs. Good Day, eh!

While the setting outside, sunny near 70-degrees, is not quite what one would expect for hockey, the inside of Incredible Ice is very nice.

Marc Savard was the first man on the ice for Boston, and I am not seeing any missing faces.

Mark Stuart is back with the team and is on the ice. Michael Ryder continues to wear his cage as his facial injuries heal.

The photo op of the year came again this morning, as the B's dressed in Sunrise for the half hour drive to the facility. Look for a little gallery, later.

11:24 a.m.
Greetings from Tranquility Base

Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick (48) battles Minnesota Wild center Eric Belanger (25) for control of the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Before the trip to the Jacobs’ house, I had a few minutes to sit down with B's rookie defenseman Matt Hunwick.

Now, I have been around Matt since he was signed and I’ve seen and written about him in Development Camp, Providence and all the way through this season. Knowing his competative nature, I thought that having to sit would make this the toughest time he’s had as a Bruin.

However, after talking to him, it seems those thoughts were unfounded.

“Obviously, once we got healthy, you knew that someone was going to have to sit out,” said Hunwick. “Early on in the season I was that guy and…at some point it was going to happen again.

“Right now I am at a point where I am just trying to stay ready and stay in shape.

“Probably the biggest thing is just to stay sharp…with the puck and hopefully the next time I am in the game, I will be sharp and be contributing,” he said.

Somewhat of a surprise addition to the roster, at times this season Hunwick has been a key cog in the hockey machine that is the Boston Bruins. You would think that having to sit would be hard.

Hunwick said that obiously everyone wants to play, but that his attitude remains the same.

“I am trying to look at it in a positive light,” said Hunwick. “Our team has been doing so well this year, there’s no reason to feel bad about sitting out with the team that we have here.

“It could be a special year and I am just real happy to be a part of it right now and at the same time I am looking to get better everyday so at some point I will be in there contributing.”

And, as he has said before, you can learn something in the press box.

“I think you always do, whether it’s by watching our own guys or seeing players from around the league that I haven’t seen," he said. “Being able to watch players like that will obviously help my game.”

Count Hunwick among those who appreciated Coach Julien’s practice on Thursday, as well.

“Always, after an off-day, you like to come back and get a good skate in,” said Hunwick. “Although the difficulty of the drills probably weren’t at the highest level, there definitely was a lot of skating.

“It was kind of what I call a ‘hidden bag skate’ where the defensemen have to jump up into the play and you get your work in, but it’s in a fun way. You’re jumping into the offense and you really don’t think about it.”

Hunwick and the Bruins hit the ice at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs at 1:00 p.m. JB

10:19 a.m.
Click the picture for a photo gallery of the day.
After practice on Thursday, the Bruins spent the remainder of the day with team owner Jeremy Jacobs, (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Delaware North Companies) at his home in Florida.

Alongside Mr. Jacobs were many members of his large family, including his wife Margaret, Charlie Jacobs (Executive Vice President of the Bruins), Charlie’s wife Kim, Charlie’s siblings, their spouses and several of Mr. Jeremy Jacobs' grandchildren.

Following one of their tougher practices in quite a while, the Bruins players were able to just relax by the pool, use the Jacobs’ golf range or fishing spot, check out the family’s stables or play tennis.

In fact, much of the entertainment on the day was provided by P.J. Axelsson, who proved adept at golf, tennis and even seemed at home with the horses.

Particularly fun was seeing Blake Wheeler and Axelsson “face-off” against Vladimir Sobotka and David Krejci on the clay tennis court.

While Wheeler and Axelsson held sway, the two Czech forwards held their own through most of the match (but not without a few grumbles in the Czech language).

As one of the staffers who were able to sample the meal, see the grounds and enjoy the sunshine, I can personally attest to the Jacobs family’s hospitality and generosity.

Thanks for a very nice day, folks!

7:25 a.m.

Thursday was another full day of activity (more on that in a bit), but looking at the schedule for the remainder of the season, the rest the B's have picked up recently will be the norm.

"When we looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year, we hoped we'd be in the position where those days would be huge for us," said head coach Claude Julien after practice. "I still remember last year in March, we played 16 games in, I think, 30 days, or 31 days…so it was a real heavy schedule.

"When we looked at it this year, we said hopefully this can benefit us down the road, because you want your team to be rested, and those breaks can sometimes help your team in the long run, especially heading into the playoffs."

And nearly everyone in the organization believes the club dodged a big bullet by weathering the recent four-game losing streak.

"I think we handled it well," agreed Julien.  "And I say we, because even the coaches [perservered].If you start harping on the losses, it becomes heavy, but at the same time, you create a little bit of desperation to win the next game.

I think that's what happened here: nobody panicked, but we all showed some desperation, that wanting to win the hockey game."

Julien also said that he had not thought the B's has sunk to any great depths during the skid.

"When you look at the New Jersey game, it wasn't a bad game – we lost," he said. "You look at Nashville, we gave ourselves a chance to get a point there, and Philly…those games, we were all in them.

"And, same thing, when we got to Carolina, [we said] 'Yeah, we've played OK, but it hasn't been good enough.'  Somewhere, if you have a little bit of desperation, and guys maybe finding ways to get that edge will certainly help us.

"You've got to give Carolina some credit: they're fighting for a playoff spot, they played hard. We were on the road and I thought we were patient enough to stay in the game and hold that lead, and then, when it came down to the crunch, we found ways to score more goals and get a convincing victory," said the coach.

Injury Update
Coach Julien spoke about the missing Bruins -- Mark Stuart and Petteri Nokelainen.

"Nokelainen, he's still day-to-day," said Julien. "He's getting better.  There's no worries about it being an injury that will be something that he won't recover from.  He'll fully recover.

"But, right now, with the eye injury, they're just giving it time to fully heal, and once he gets the OK from the doctor to play, he's going to be 100% OK to play.

"He's skating with [Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides] back there, so once he gets the OK, he's 100%, ready to go."

Mark Stuart is not injured.

"His schedule is that he should be back tomorrow,and he should be on the ice for practice tomorrow," said Julien, who was then asked what kept Stuart away.

Julien said "personal reasons...a family issue."

We got worms....
Click the pic for more photos.
I received some pictures from a recent community event. Click the picture to the right to see more.

On Monday, February 2nd, Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference visited the Andrew Peabody School in Cambridge to discuss the environmental friendly practices of the school, as well as teach two science classes how to do special worm composting.

Andrew's visit helped launch the new Bruins I.C.E. School (I Can Excel) Environment division, B’s Go Green.

The B's Go Green program serves to teach kids in grades 3-8 how to make changes in their everyday life to help the environment.

For more information on the B's Go Green program please click here.
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