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Bear Essentials: November 11th

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Observing Veterans Day and Remembrance Day is running a very thoughtful and appropriate piece on today's holiday:
Tuesday is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States, a day set aside to recall and honor the sacrifices made by Canadian and American troops who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in past conflicts like World War I and World War II and who are together once again in Afghanistan today. More...

With sincere thanks to our vets and currently active servicemen and women. JB

3:10 p.m.
Boston Bruins center Stephane Yelle (18) dumps Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Mikhail Grabovski, of Germany, to the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Post-practice, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien was asked about his strategy for dealing with two games in two nights.

“You should never look further ahead than the game you have to play (next),” said Julien. “Chicago is a team that is…on a pretty good streak and is pretty confident.

“They are a young team that seems to be on the rise.

“So, we just have to focus on tomorrow,” he said.

However, coach did admit that it would be nice to have all his skaters working.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have much control over the schedule,” said Julien of the back-to-back games. “It’s ironic that it’s always (the other team) waiting for us at home.

“So be it. We have to deal with what we can control and the best way to control that is to have all 19 guys going tomorrow and being able to stretch (our) bench as much as you can (while) getting the results that you want.”

And after the game, Coach wants to hit the plane home “as quick as possible” so that his players can get some rest for the Habs.

Obviously, a good start would help the B’s.

“They are a team that likes to go on the attack,” explained Julien. “They are very aggressive in the neutral zone and even when you move the puck they do not give you much room.

“So, it’s going to be important that we really eliminate turnovers in the neutral zone. And I know that is something that I say a lot, but it’s crucial.

“They’ll thrive on those kind of things,” he said.

According to Julien, the B’s have to “get the puck in deep and keep it in their end as much as we can.

“That would obviously take away some of their momentum and take the crowd out…and minimize the damage on our end.

“But if we are sloppy tomorrow, they are going to eat us alive,” he said, gravely.

Julien does believe, however, that game planning for his club is getting more difficult, as well.

“I think the fact that we have three or maybe even four lines that can score goals…we’ve got more scoring balance," he said. "Last year, with all the injuries and our youth, after a line, line and a half, or two lines if you want to be generous, we kind of got thin."

12:34 p.m.

Shane Hnidy celebrates his goal past Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Paul Chiasson)
Shane "Sheriff" Hnidy shed some of his tough defenseman demeanor today as he spoke about being back on the ice.

"Today I was a little extra happy (to be on the ice)," he said, with a smile. "I was in the gym for a while, and that helps you, but it's a grind.

"So, it's nice to get back on the ice with the guys.

"I think the week really benefited me and I felt really good out there, so it was a good first day back," said Hnidy.

11:26 a.m.
It looks as if the Bruins are pretty healthy going into their short roadie to Chicago.

Everyone is on the ice (minus Shawn Thornton).

The club went through some scrimmage type drills and then did some shootout practice.

Practice seems like it is winding down. JB

Good Morning Reading

CALGARY, CANADA - OCTOBER 30: Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins gets into position for a save against the Calgary Flames at Pengrowth Saddledome October 30, 2008 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
You have to read this terrific story on Tim Thomas.

It comes, from's James Duthie:
For my money, the most entertaining player in hockey isn't Ovechkin or Crosby or Alfredsson.  It's a guy who has never scored a goal, and often resembles a freshly caught fish on the bottom of a boat.

Boston's Tim Thomas is the best thing to happen to goaltending since the mask. 

Where do I start? He's small, so his equipment doesn't make him eclipse the net like some of those Jabba The Hutt look-alikes. He doesn't have one of those robotic techniques. Heck, I'm not sure he has any technique! If he does the butterfly, it looks like it's missing a wing, flying in all directions. Every night with Thomas is like Live at the Improv. He's made the position fun again.

Also, CNNSI's Michael Farber writes about Thomas in his column, On The Fly. Farber was left shaking his head about Tim's omission from the All-Star ballot:
More curious was the omission of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, an All-Star last season and late replacement who actually was credited with the victory in the game. You have to love a goalie like Thomas, the anti-stylist for whom every save is like a snowflake, utterly different than the next one...Thomas was told, in effect, that he was not one of the top 10 goalies in the Eastern Conference. Absurd. He was overlooked even though he leads the NHL in save percentage...You would think that two outstanding players on Original Six teams would have caught the NHL's eye...

Our thoughts exactly! JB

Morning Update
Boston Bruins defenseman Shane Hnidy, right, upends Buffalo Sabres winger Thomas Vanek, left, at HSBC Arena on March 30, 2008, in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
It was a pretty physical practice in Wilmington on Monday as the Bruins prepared for their next tilt, a road game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

But missing from the ice were defenseman Shane Hnidy, and forwards Shawn Thornton and Stephane Yelle.

Of Yelle, Coach Julien said, “He’s going to skate (Tuesday). It’s a very mild (physical) situation, if you want to put it that way.”

Thornton will rejoin the team in Chicago. He took some personal time to deal with the passing of his grandmother on Saturday.

As for Hnidy, Julien explained, “If everything goes well today, he should be on his skates tomorrow.”

Fernandez feels good
“You (can) take the positives out of that, and the confidence that goes with it but tomorrow’s another day,” said Manny Fernandez of his game on Saturday.

Despite a lot of praise from everyone, the Bruins goaltender is already looking towards his next stint between the pipes.

“You gotta put it behind you,” he said. “You have to get ready for the next one.

Boston Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez makes a save against the Buffalo Sabres in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, in Boston. Boston won 3-1. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
“(The win) does take a little bit of pressure off my shoulders, and I’ll enjoy that for a few days, you know, but it’s back to work after (that).”

Fernandez is attempting to maintain an even keel.

“Usually that’s how the season goes, you don’t want to drag the negative out too long and you don’t wan to drag the positive out too long, either."

As far as his play goes, the B’s backstop was characteristically honest about his effort.

“I’ve had a chance to think a little bit about the game and I still think that defensively that we played really strong,” he said. “That’s the kind of game that every goalie needs from time to time, lots of shots, and creating as little as possible for the other team.

"That means you want to keep your rebounds or kick them somewhere where they are not going to come back and haunt you.

“When you look back, the (team) did whatever they had to do to (let me) get into that game...and you have to give something, so the outside shot is usually the best thing (and) I thought it was a real team effort,” he said.

Chi Town Here We Come
Toews and Kane
There is a lot of excitement in the Bruins locker room in anticipation of the team’s only trip to Chicago.

“I’ve got a lot of people in Chicago,” said Mark Stuart. “My brothers were born there, so Chicago has always been a special place for me, so I am excited.”

Beyond personal re-connections, Stuart is looking forward to another Original Six match up vs. the Blackhawks.

“I think they’ve been getting some really good crowds, and the fanbase there (is returning) as of late, with the team doing well,” he said before turning the subject to Chi’s budding superstars.

“(With Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) you just have to keep them in the back of your head. We played them last year so I saw Toews.

“But I had the chance to play with Kane this past summer and he’s a special player. He’s got unbelievable skill, so (they’re guys) you have to watch out for.”
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