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Bear Essentials: November 14th

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
1:27  p.m.

On the plane...
Off to New York!
NESN's Brian Zechello, producer of Boston Bruins hockey, and I are waiting on cheeseburgers.

What a perk! Bear Force One, rules!

In any case, there was a lightly attended morning skate. Manny Fernandez, Tim Thomas, Petteri Nokelainen, Shawn Thornton, Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler and Matt Hunwick were on the ice.

Afterward, Bruins head coach Claude Julien spoke on a number of topics, the most important of which was the health of Andrew Ference.

"Guys, he's not going to make the trip," said Julien to the media assembled at Ristuccia Arena. "But when we have something on his case we'll let you know.

"He's being evaluated, they are checking him out (because) he took that shot.

"He's not in any condition to make this trip...he's seeing the doctors, right now, so maybe later on today or tomorrow, we'll let you know," he said.

Coach praised Ference and hoped that his absence was not a long one.

"He's probably been one of our most consistent defensemen since the start of the year," he said. "(But) I think we have to survive the loss of Andrew here, for this weekend -- hopefully, just this weekend."

11:33 a.m.
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)
It was an even-keeled Coach Claude Julien who talked with the press after the Boston Bruins rousing 6-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

He talked about Shawn Thornton's early goal, a moment that set the tone for a night full of Black & Gold success.

“It was certainly a good way to start because we’ve always seemed to be behind the eight-ball with this team, and to get the lead that early was nice,” he said. “Sometimes you need a break, and we got it.”

Julien explained that the regular season losing streak was getting old.

“When you lose eight-and-(zero) to a team in the regular season, there’s no doubt that you’ll start questioning yourself,” he said. “Your confidence has obviously taken a beating.

“What we did in the playoffs last year showed us that we were definitely capable of beating these guys if we wanted to and if we played well enough.

“This year, we were down 3-0 against Montreal, and we battled back and lost in a shootout.  Tonight it was nice that we were determined to win the hockey game (because) we knew the importance of it.”

Julien also added he didn’t  “think… it’s a complex anymore.”

At least one media member had pointed out before the game that a victory over the Canadiens was the last piece of the puzzle that is the spectacular start in 2008-09. But the skill of the Habs made that win much less than a foregone conclusion.

Any team that can ice Alex Kovalev is a force to be reckoned with, but add some skill around the all-star and it can be a nightmare.

“Unfortunately against that team you’ve got to concentrate on a little more than just Kovalev,” said Julien. “If you put all your attention to him there are definitely other guys that can do damage.

“He’s a highly-skilled player.  If you give him room, he’s going to do some damage to you.  He controls the puck so well and is a highly-skilled player, so it was important to take away his time and space.  If you play the body on him, obviously it’s to our advantage.

“We had some good hits on him tonight and it was important that we finished our checks everywhere on the ice.”

The Bruins physicality is a common theme during Boston’s current streak. And nobody embodied that more than Milan Lucic.

Lucic threw his weight around with gusto and when the time came to answer the bell against Mike Komisarek, the big wing did not disappoint.

“It’s something that’s been ongoing now for a while – Komisarek and Lucic – and I really don’t know how it started, whether or not Komisarek called him out,” said Coach Julien. “I haven’t really discussed it.

“All I saw was both guys dropping their gloves and going at it.  This was actually Lucic’s first fight this year.  He handled it well and showed he can still do that job.

“To me it was part of the game, part of the package, and besides other things he did extremely well, he just did his job.”

Everyone did their job, but that must continue if the B’s winning ways are to continue. Julien sees no reason why the Bruins would change anything.

“I think our team kind of gets it,” said Julien. “We’ve been through some experiences where we got maybe a little too high at times in the past, and we’ve realized that through an 82-game schedule, there are going to be some lows -- let’s not kid ourselves.

“The bottom line is to try and minimize those lows, and you can do that a lot easier if you maintain an even keel and understand what it takes to win and what you have to do every night.

“Our guys seem to enjoy working hard and working other teams, so that’s a good sign.”
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