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Boston Bruins Friday Notebook

by Angela Stefano / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA -- Between the broken glass,  hard hits, wild goals and stellar saves – it was just a strange night at the TD Banknorth Garden.

There was no shootout this time, but the 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t exactly the outcome the Boston Bruins had in mind.  However, there were some highlights.

Bergy’s First Goal
The biggest thrill in a rather erratic first period – and maybe the whole night – came with a little under five minutes left.  It was a simple, even common, play and it gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead and set them on their (short-lived) scoring path. And it just happened to be Patrice Bergeron’s first goal since coming back from his injury, and that was what made it so special.

“I’m obviously happy it’s behind me, and I can look forward now that I got that first one,” Bergeron said after the game.

Head coach Claude Julien was pleased that the forward’s hard work finally paid off.

“He has been getting some nice scoring chances, and they just haven’t been going in,” he said.  “Hopefully this is something that will get him going in that department and give him confidence.”

Getting his Wheels
After a stellar camp that landed him a spot on the Bruins third line, and a goal in his very first NHL game, Blake Wheeler had hit a dry spell in the scoring department.

“I’m not going to say the guy is down, but he certainly isn’t where he was at training camp where everything was going his way,” said head coach Claude Julien Thursday morning.  “He’s got to work through it a little bit.”

Wheeler made a big step on Thursday when he scored a beautiful goal during the last minutes of the game’s first period, giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead.

Off a home run pass from PJ Axelsson, Wheeler skated up the right wing to the goal and shot from the corner to the left of Toronto's goalie, Vesa Toskala.

“To be honest, I thought it was offsides,” said Wheeler.  “I didn’t hear anything, so I kept going.

“The goalie came out to play me, and I just kind of snuck around him and tried to slide it in,” he explained.

The shot slid behind Maple Leafs goalie and bounced off defenseman Anton Stralman’s stick and into the goal.

“I don’t think you can practice those,” he said.  “I think those are just reaction.”

Hard Hits
The game also contained two hits likely to be shown on highlight films and in Bruins opening montages for quite some time.

With about one minute remaining in the opening period, Dennis Wideman leveled Matt Stajan just outside the face-off circle. 

“It’s part of the game,” said Wideman.  “Sometimes hit’s come your way, and sometimes it happens.”

While Stajan laid on the ice recovering – he eventually got up and skated off by his own power – some Leafs teammates retaliated by the Boston net, resulting in a scuffle and a roughing penalty to Toronto's Luke Schenn.

Easily the most talked-about play of the evening though, came from Milan Lucic, who launched Maple Leaf Mike Van Ryn through the glass and into the first row of seats.

“I just went in there to finish the check,” he said.  “It went through the glass, and unfortunately, it hit those two people that were sitting there.”

The man and woman directly behind the shattered panel were quickly attended to by EMTs.  They walked out of the arena bowl on their own power.

“I was just hoping they were all right,” said Lucic.  “They pay good money to have seats like that, and that’s the last thing you want to see happen to a fan.”

It was a strange experience for both Lucic and Van Ryn, too.

“I usually just bounce off the boards, and that time, I went through,” said Lucic.  “I just looked to make sure I had no glass inside my padding.”

Van Ryn briefly went to the Leafs locker room to check for the same thing.

“I’m still itchy,” he said after the game.  “It seems that it’s caught everywhere on me.

“It wasn’t like the hit hurt or anything like that.  I think it was just the weight,” he continued.

“It just exploded.”

They Just Keep Happening
Viewers didn’t get a shootout last night, but you can bet that, despite their earlier wishes to avoid a shootout, the B’s were hoping for one at the end of last night.

That said, the B's hope to right the ship during their next game-deciding penalty shot contest. In four games -- three shootouts,  three losses.

“It’s frustrating that we lost that valuable point,” said Claude Julien, talking this morning specifically about shootout number three on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres and urging fans and the players “not to dwell so much on the lack of success we’ve had in shootouts.”

Julien acknowledged the entertainment value the overtime shootouts add to the game, saying that fans – and the teams that come out on top – definitely enjoy the one-on-one play.

“As a coach, when you lose those types of games, it certainly doesn’t make you a big fan of it,” he said, “but we’re obviously here to entertain people, and [the shootouts] are important to them right now.”

Goalie Tim Thomas, who faced his fair share of pucks during two of the three shootouts, said the final score of a shootout game is deceptive.

“When you lose in them, it feels like you’re the lowest of the low,” he said, “never mind that you really tied the game.”

Thomas was unsure that shootouts should count in the standings.

Because the points earned or lost can make the difference between a post-season run or an early end to a team’s season, “it makes or breaks millions of dollars at the end of the year,” he said.

Boston will return to practice in Wilmington on Friday.
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