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Bear Essentials On the Road: Manchester, New Hampshire

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Bear Essentials On the Road: Manchester, New Hampshire (Verizon Wireless Arena)

Hello my friends. This is the second road stop for The Bear Essentials and it's actually much closer than our last trip to St. John's. However, the drive from Central, Massachusetts is approximately the same, timewise, as the flight -- about an hour and a half. Just like in Newfoundland, I am certain that we will be running into a bunch of Bruins fans in the Granite State. JB

Manchester, NH (
Where are we going?

Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire and the largest city of northern New England, an area composed of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The “Queen City” sits on the banks of the Merrimack River. It was incorporated as a city in 1846, and from there, went on to become home to the largest cotton mill factory in the world.

This riverfront city was shaped by the hard work, creativity, and dedication of generations of people of different backgrounds, from Native Americans to European and Canadian settlers, to the wide variety of ethnicities represented today.

Check out the City of Manchester's website, here.

Where are we playing?
The B's face the Devils at Verizon Wireless Arena. The groundbreaking for the Verizon Wireless Arena took place in April 2000, and took nearly one and a half years to complete the facility.  On November 15, 2001, the arena celebrated its grand opening. The Verizon Wireless Arena is home to the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs as well as the AFL2’s Manchester Wolves. It holds 10,019 hockey fans over two seating levels, 542 club seats, 34 suites, and 2 part suites.

Who are we playing?
The New Jersey Devils are one of the preeminent teams in all of hockey, having earned three Stanley Cups and employing one of the greatest goaltenders in league history, Martin Brodeur. They currently reside in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but will celebrate the opening of their new arena in the very near future.

When are we playing?
The game is at 7:00 p.m.

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.
Who is playing?

Forwards:   Hendricks-Kessel-Murray
Defense:     Alberts, Allen, Bodnarchuk
                      Stuart, Ward, Wideman
Goal:             Fernandez, Rask

Here is the numerical roster.





Is the game on?
No. Taking a quick look at the online NHL Center Ice preview, as of this morning, there was no indication that the game was going to be broadcast. There will be no NESN coverage or radio from WBZ. I will do my best to keep the page as updated as possible throughout the event -- internet gods willing.

Thinking about Thursday…
There was an expectant air about Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday afternoon. As the Bruins congratulated the group that returned from Canada with the club's first preseason win, the next group of skaters seemed intent on continuing the trend Thursday in New Hampshire.

However, keeping in mind the intent of preseason, head coach Claude Julien said that he would continue to use the exhibition schedule as a teaching tool, so the goalies (Manny Fernandes, Tuukka Rask) would share time in Manchester.

"We're still going to split it this time," said Julien. "We are going to do the same thing we did (in St. John's) and give (Manny) a chance to slowly get into it.

"I don't think we are at the stage now where our goaltenders need to play whole games."

And the same thoughts apply to the rest of the team as well -- although in reverse, with younger players who need a look, getting MORE time than they might otherwise receive.

"Well I think you (instruct players) while you can," said Coach. "And an exhibition game is certainly a good time to teach and make some small corrections as you go along.

"In the regular season, teaching should be done in practice.

"Once you get into a game situation you shouldn't have to do too much teaching," he said.

So, as you might expect, even beyond the lineups, NHL coaches handle exhibition games differently than they would a game during the regular season.

"We do coach differently, because…you try to give everybody an opportunity to be evaluated properly," said Julien. "So you don't shorten your bench and you don't utilize certain players (more than others).

"I think (in St. John's) everybody got the same amount of ice time…or close to it."

This should be pretty exciting for fans in the Verizon Wireless Arena who want to see a good mix of vets and rookies on the ice -- they are virtually guaranteed to see a whole lot of the B's top draft pick Zach Hamil and top goaltending prospect, Rask.

Unfortunately, both Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand are not scheduled to make the trip, and in fact, were left off yesterday's practice list as well.

"Both Lucic and Marchand were given (Wednesday) off so that they could rest," said Julien, who has clearly been impressed with the pair. "With (the Super Series) and coming straight here, then playing a game..

"It was a good opportunity to catch their second wind."

Two Bruins will be thrown right back into the fire: Dennis Wideman and Mark Stuart. Julien did not elaborate on the reason for adding them to the group playing tonight.

"I just added them to that group," he said a-matter-of-factly.

One aspect of the pro game that the fans in New Hampshire might not expect to see, but could easily be reminded of, is the physical side of hockey. Julien has not seen fit to steer his players away from fisticuffs and there could be a tête-à-tête or two this evening.

Questioned as to what guidelines he had put on his players, particularly regarding captain Zdeno Chara, Julien was clear that he had not instructed them to refrain from fighting.

"It happens when it happens," said Julien, who was not afraid to drop the gloves when he played. "The one thing we don't want to do is let the emotions of a guy get the better of them. But at the same time we don't want to restrict guys from being themselves, either.

"We need to give (Chara) that responsibility to know when he should, and shouldn't go, and that was a situation (on Tuesday) where he felt he was being challenged and he answered the call."

Even with Chara staying home tonight, there's no doubt other B's will hear that call, or that bell, in the near future.
1:04 p.m. I am going to pack myself up and get ready to travel. You should notice updates on the front page around 5:30 or 6 p.m. I will make sure that there is a recap of each period up and I will surely have a game story up shortly afterward, with updates late tonight and tomorrow morning.

1:46 p.m. I forgot one thing -- I have a new photo gallery up from the Black vs. White scrimmage. Take a look by clicking here.

2:06 p.m. The Devils have their game preview up, here.

5:27 p.m. In the building. Beautiful arena. Ran into most of the B's scouts, Peter Chiarelli and Dan Zimmer. Everyone is pretty excited about this evening's game.

I have, again, been the beneficiary of some kindness. Lost in Manchester, I found my way thanks to a couple of Verizon Wireless Arena employees. Thank you!

6:12 p.m. Fans are starting to enter the building. Nice press box. Very nice sigh lines.

There is a pretty big media contingent including most of the usual suspects from the TD Banknorth Garden. Matt Kalman from the New England Hockey Journal enjoyed the cookies for the pregame media spread -- and judging from the scant number left after the hungry hordes hit the cafeteria, a lot of people agreed.

I have only been here once before, and I like it then, but am more impressed today. It is a very comfortable arena. I highly recommend it if you are in the mood for an AHL game -- after you visit the boys in Providence, of course.

Saw New Jersey's Brian Gionta walk in and was remembering how good he was in college and how all of us in the stands at Walter Brown Arena at Boston University didn't like him very much. I also remember seeing him play an amazing game against Maine and marveling at his scoring prowess. Every time I looked up, he had scored another goal.

Not sure who else is playing for New Jersey, but from the looks of it, I did not see too many faces I recognized -- and most importantly no Martin Brodeur.

There are only 40-minutes to go until gametime...

6:25 p.m. Kevin Weekes in goal for New Jersey. Doyle is his backup.  Manny Fernandez is in goal for Boston and Tuukka Rask is his partner.

And folks, the new uniforms look very sharp. Very sharp. I think I like the black version slightly better than the whites, but both are very cool.

6:36 p.m. A slight tweak to my lines...

Stuart, Ward (G1) Fernandez
Allen, Wideman (G2) Rask
Bodnarchuk, Allen

The boys are leaving the ice, so I am going to put a running recap on the front page. See you on the flip side. Go Bruins!

7:47 p.m. One more thing...

The Devils brought:
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