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Boston Bruins Week Ahead 4/4 - 4/10

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
THOMAS INKS CONTRACT EXTENSION; PRESS CONFERENCE SATURDAY AT 10:00 A.M.: Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced Friday that the club has signed goaltender Tim Thomas to a multi-year contract extension. Chiarelli and Thomas will hold a press conference on Saturday, April 4 at 10:00 a.m. ET in the Will McDonough Press Room at the TD Banknorth Garden, before their 1:00 p.m. matinee game against the New York Rangers.


Thomas - who played in his second career NHL All-Star Game this past January - is currently the league leader in both Goals Against Average (2.11) and Save Percentage (.932). He established a new career high in wins with 33 and has helped lead the Bruins to their first 50-win season since 1992-93. Over the last two regular seasons, no NHL goaltender has posted a better Save Percentage than Thomas (.927) (Nicklas Backstrom ranks second, .921) and only Martin Brodeur (2.21) and Evgeni Nabokov (2.22) have registered better Goals Against Averages than Thomas’ 2.26 mark.

A FIRST ROUND PREVIEW, PERHAPS?: The Bruins will host the New York Rangers on Saturday, April 4 during a 1:00 p.m. matinee at the TD Banknorth Garden. If the playoffs started today, the top seeded Bruins and eighth seeded Rangers would meet in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

It will be Fan Appreciation Day at the Garden and in addition to a host of prizes, raffles and contests throughout the game, fans will have the opportunity to take home game-worn Bruins jerseys at the end of the game, as part of the team’s “Shirt Off Our Backs” promotion. Following the conclusion of the game, Bruins players will remain on the ice and throw t-shirts into the stands and hand out their game-worn jersey to the lucky fan of their choice.

CUTS FOR A CAUSE: On Wednesday, April 8, Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward is teaming up with WBCN 104.1 to host the second annual "Cuts for a Cause" to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Oncology Unit from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at The Harp (85 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114). For tickets and donation information, visit www.wbcn.com.

13 members of the current Boston Bruins roster including Aaron Ward, Patrice Bergeron, Byron Bitz, Matt Hunwick, Phil Kessel, Chuck Kobasew, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, Mark Stuart, Tim Thomas, Blake Wheeler and Dennis Wideman will have their heads shaved by auction winners on stage, in front of fans to show their support and raise money for children battling cancer.

KREJCI CAPTURES SEVENTH PLAYER AWARD; MORE HARDWARE HANDED OUT SATURDAY: Before the Bruins/Senators game on Thursday night, Bruins center David Krejci was named the winner of NESN’s Seventh Player Award presented by the New England Dodge Dealers.

Voted on by Bruins fans online at NESN.com, NESN’s Seventh Player Award is an annual award presented to the Bruin who went above and beyond the call of duty and exceed the expectations of Bruins fans during the 2008-2009 season. In addition to the Seventh Player Award trophy, Krejci will take home a 2009 Dodge Ram, courtesy of New England Dodge Dealers. This year, in his first full season with the Bruins, the 22-year-old Krejci established career highs in games played (76, previous career high 56), goals (22, previous 6), assists (49, previous 21), points (71, previous 27) and plus/minus rating (+36, previous -3).

Before the puck drop against the Rangers on Saturday, the winners of the Eddie Shore Award (exceptional hustle and determination), Elizabeth Dufrense Trophy (most outstanding player during home games), John P. Bucyk Award (charitable and community contributions) and the Bruins 3-Stars Awards (contributions to team’s success) will be named in a pregame ceremony.

P-BRUINS’ BOYCHUK NAMED AHL’S DEFENSEMAN OF THE YEAR: Providence Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was named the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2008-09 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 29 cities. Boychuk, a fifth-year pro in his first season in the Boston Bruins organization, currently leads all AHL defensemen with 20 goals, 43 assists and 63 points (a Providence franchise record for a blueliner) and has registered a plus-21 rating while playing in 73 of the club’s first 74 games.

He has made one appearance for Boston this year, during a 3-1 Bruins win over Tampa on December 4.

RINKSIDE CHATS: BostonBruins.com’s online interactive feature “Rinkside Chats Presented by Covidien” gives fans the opportunity to chat live with Bruins players, alumni, coaching staff and management. Visit BostonBruins.com for the latest updates to the Rinkside Chats schedule.

RINKSIDE CHAT RUNDOWN (all chat transcripts can be read on BostonBruins.com):
February 11: Blake Wheeler
February 25: David Krejci
March 4 (Trade Deadline Day): Peter Chiarelli
March 11: Byron Bitz
March 20: Derek Sanderson
April 1: Matt Hunwick

BRUINS BY THE NUMBERS:
110: After Thursday’s 2-1 win vs. Ottawa, the Bruins now have 110 points on the season, which is their best point total since they finished the 1982-83 season with 110 points. That is tied for the fourth-highest mark in club history behind their club record of 121 (1970-71) and totals of 119 (1971-72) and 113 (1977-78, 1975-76 and 1973-74).

2: The Bruins’ “magic number” for clinching first place in the Eastern Conference and ensuring home ice advantage through the first three playoff rounds is any combination of two points won by Boston and/or lost by Washington.

50: Number of wins on the season after their 2-1 win over Ottawa on Thursday, their best mark since they finished the 1992-93 season with a 51-26-7 record

THE STAT OF THE WEEK, COURTESY OF THE BOSTON BRUINS WEEK AHEAD STAT MACHINE…
Zdeno Chara frequently matches up against the opposition’s top lines and as a result, faces many of the league’s most dangerous scorers each night.

Through Thursday night’s games, the top 19 scorers in the league averaged 1.11 points per game (1603 points in 1440 games). These same 19 players averaged 0.74 points per game against the Bruins, nearly a third less (35 points in 47 games). 15 of the 19 averaged fewer points against the Bruins than against the rest of the league.

The 19 players sampled for this stat were: Malkin, Ovechkin, Crosby, Datsyuk, Parise, Kovalchuk, Iginla, Getzlaf, Thornton, Backstrom, D. Sedin, H. Sedin, St. Louis, Carter, Cammalleri, Richards, Nash, Ribiero. Bruin center Marc Savard - who ranks 10th in the league in points - was excluded as he rounds the top 20.

BRUINS UPCOMING GAME AND PRACTICE SCHEDULE (PLEASE CALL 617.624.1910 FOR THE LATEST UPDATES TO THE SCHEDULE):

Saturday, April 4 (Boston, MA)
-Ice available at TD Banknorth Garden 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. ET
-Game vs. New York Rangers 1:00 p.m. ET (TV: NESN; RADIO: WBZ 1030 AM)
 
Sunday, April 5 (Wilmington, MA)
-Practice at Ristuccia Arena 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ET

Monday, April 6 (Wilmington, MA)
-Practice at Ristuccia Arena 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. ET
-Travel to Ottawa, ON

Tuesday, April 7 (Ottawa, ON)
-Pregame skate at Scotiabank Place 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET
-Game vs. Ottawa Senators 7:30 p.m. ET (TV: NESN; RADIO: WBZ 1030 AM)
-Travel to Boston

Wednesday, April 8 (Wilmington, MA)
-Practice at Ristuccia Arena 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ET

Thursday, April 9 (Boston, MA)
-Pregame skate at TD Banknorth Garden 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. ET
-Game vs. Montreal Canadiens 7:00 p.m. ET (TV: NESN; RADIO: WBZ 1030 AM)

Friday, April 10 (Wilmington, MA)
-Practice at Ristuccia Arena 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. ET
-Travel to Buffalo, NY

AROUND TOWN:
What: Fan Appreciation Day/ “Shirts Off Our Backs” Promotion
-Each year the Bruins honor their fans with Fan Appreciation Day at the TD Banknorth Garden
-Fans enjoy an exciting day of contests and promotions throughout the game and are chosen at random to win prizes at almost every stoppage of play
-At the end of the game, Bruins players will skate around the ice throwing t-shirts into the stands and hand out their game-worn jersey to one lucky fan in attendance as part of their “Shirts Off Our Backs” Promotion
-Fan Appreciation prizes this year include: An All-Inclusive Loft for six to see MTL vs. BOS on April 9, Pair of Tickets to Home Game 1/Round 1 of the 2009 Boston Bruins Playoffs, Bench Seats for four to a game in the 2009-2010 Season, 1 Night Stays at the Liberty Hotel, Onyx Hotel or Mohegan Sun, Business Class Roundtrip Airfare Vouchers, courtesy of Air Tran, Gift Certificates to some of Boston's best restaurants
When: Saturday, April 4 at 1:00 p.m. during the Bruins/Rangers contest
Where: TD Banknorth Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston, MA 02114

What: WBCN and Aaron Ward’s Second annual “Cuts for a Cause”
-Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward and WBCN 104.1 are teaming up to host the second annual "Cuts for a Cause" to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Oncology Unit
-Thirteen members of the current Boston Bruins roster including Aaron Ward, Patrice Bergeron, Byron Bitz, Matt Hunwick, Phil Kessel, Chuck Kobasew, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, Mark Stuart, Tim Thomas, Blake Wheeler and Dennis Wideman will have their heads shaved by auction winners on stage, in front of fans to show their support and raise money for children battling cancer. 
-Fans can support the event by purchasing a ticket to the event or by bidding on the opportunity to shave one of the Bruins player’s heads. 
-Tickets to the event can be purchased for $20 at www.wbcn.com, and Bruins fans can bid online to shave the head of a Boston Bruins player on stage at "Cuts for a Cause from now until April 7 at 3:00 p.m.
-Depending on availability, tickets will be available at the door the day of the event.
When: Wednesday, April 8, from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Where: The Harp, 85 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114
Bruins Participating: Aaron Ward, Patrice Bergeron, Byron Bitz, Matt Hunwick, Phil Kessel, Chuck Kobasew, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Michael Ryder, Mark Stuart, Tim Thomas, Blake Wheeler and Dennis Wideman

What: Mini 1-on-1 Winners
-Seven youth hockey players, 4 total teams of one goalie and one skater will be at the game to receive recognition from USA Hockey, the Boston Bruins, TD Banknorth Garden, and NESN.  The winners are: Boys: Providence Jr. Bruins (8 and under) Nicholas Petracca, Tao Ishizuka; Edgewood, RI (10 and under) Matthew Kenneally, Matthew Creamer; Girls: East Coast Wizards (10 and under) Jacqueline Diffley, Katie Burt; East Coast Wizards (12 and under) Caitlyn Ryan, Katie Burt
When: Saturday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m. throughout the final Bruins home game of the regular season
Where: TD Banknorth Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston, MA 02114

What: The Hockey Project
-The Hockey Project is a program that takes at-risk boy and girls ages 10 to 12 in urban communities and puts them on the ice.
-The Hockey Project provides inner-city kids with certified training, equipment, and ice-time as well as scholarships for participation in youth leagues and summer hockey camps.
When: Monday, April 13, from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Where: MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St, Springfield, MA 01103
Bruins Participating: Boston Bruins Hummer

What: PASS Clinic
-The 10th and final clinic in a 10-clinic series conducted by the Boston Bruins and sponsored by TD Banknorth. 
-The PASS or Partnership to Assist Skaters and Shooters focuses on teaching youth hockey players between the ages of 8 and 12 skating and shooting skills.
When: Tuesday, April 15, from 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Where: Icenter, 60 Lowell Rd, Salem, NH 03079
Bruins Participating: Boston Bruins Alumni, Tommy Songin

MEDIA:
THE INSTIGATORS: Every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., the gloves come off on NESN, as Mike Milbury, Andy Brickley, and Jack Edwards debate the hottest and most controversial issues in hockey on The Instigators.

THE BUZZ: This week on the Buzz we check out the re-building of the Bruins in a 3-part special story, plus Andrew Ference at the SCORE banquet in Boston, and our final Buzzer Beater of the season.
 
4/4    12:00/4:00/10:30pm
4/8    5:30pm
 
Next week's show, the final show, is the top 10 Bruins games of the regular season.
 
4/11   3:00/7:30pm
4/12   12:30/3:00pm
4/13    6:00pm
4/16   7:00pm

BRUINS RADIO APPEARANCES: Check the following radio stations for exclusive live interviews with Bruins players every week:
Tuesday mornings at 7:20: Andrew Ference on WFNX 101.7 FM
Wednesday mornings at 8:00: Aaron Ward on WBCN 104.1 FM
Wednesday mornings at 8:20: Marc Savard on WZLX 100.7 FM

TICKET INFO:
STUDENT NIGHTS: Every Bruins home game on Monday through Thursday is “Student Night” at the Garden, where students can purchase discounted tickets for $23.50. The Bruins Student Sections are in sections 320 and 321, rows 3-15.

LEADERS AND STATS:
BRUINS ON THE NHL LEADERBOARD (AS OF APRIL 3):
-The Bruins lead the entire NHL in goal differential (+78) and goals against (181).
-The Bruins lead the Eastern Conference in points (110), fewest losses (17) and goals for (259).
-The Bruins own the NHL’s fourth ranked power play (23.1%) and are tied for tenth in penalty kill (82.9%).
-Marc Savard is tied for tenth in the league in points with 82 (E. Malkin 108) and is eighth in the league in assists with 58 (E. Malkin 74).
-Dennis Wideman is eleventh in the league in points scored by a defenseman with 48 (M. Green 70) and Zdeno Chara is tied for twelfth with 47.
-David Krejci leads the entire NHL in plus/minus with +37, Blake Wheeler is second and is tops among the rookies with +35, Dennis Wideman is fifth with +32 and Michael Ryder is tied for eighth with +29.
-Milan Lucic is fourth in the NHL in shooting percentage with 18.9% (R. Malone 21.0%) and is sixth in hits with 249 (C. Clutterbuck 333).
-Blake Wheeler leads the rookies plus/minus ranking with a +35. He is tied for fifth in goals scored by a rookie with 20 (B. Ryan 28), is tied for eighth in assists by a rookie with 22 (K. Versteeg 29) and is fifth among rookies in points with 42 (B. Ryan 54).
-Matt Hunwick is tied for third in rookie plus/minus with +18.
-Tim Thomas ranks first in both Goals Against Average (2.11) and Save Percentage (.932).

HARDWARE:
Tim Thomas- Second Star, Week ending November 2
Marc Savard- First Star, Week ending November 23
Phil Kessel- First Star, Week ending December 14
Manny Fernandez/Tim Thomas- First Star, Month of December
Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas- Eastern Conference All-Stars
Milan Lucic, Blake Wheeler- NHL YoungStars participants
Claude Julien- Eastern Conference All-Star head coach
Blake Wheeler- NHL YoungStars Game Most Valuable Player
Zdeno Chara- NHL’s Hardest Shot Competition winner (105.4 MPH, NHL record)
David Krejci- NESN’s Seventh Player Award (voted online on NESN.com by the fans)

BRUINS REGULAR SEASON LEADERS (AS OF APRIL 3):

Goals
1. P. Kessel    31
2. M. Ryder    26
3. M. Savard    24
4. D. Krejci    22
t5. B. Wheeler    20
t5. C. Kobasew    20
t5. M. Recchi    20

Assists
1. M. Savard    58
2. D. Krejci    50
3. D. Wideman    35
4. M. Recchi    34
5. Z. Chara    30

Points
1. M. Savard    82
2. D. Krejci    72
t3. P. Kessel    54
t3. M. Recchi    54
5. M. Ryder    51

Plus/Minus
1. D. Krejci    +37
2. B. Wheeler    +35
3. D. Wideman    +32
4. M. Ryder    +29
5. Z. Chara    +24

Penalty Minutes
1. S. Montador    139
2. S. Thornton    117
3. M. Lucic    114
4. Z. Chara    87
5. M. Stuart    70

MEDIA AND FAN INFORMATION LINE:  Call 617.624.1910 for the latest updates to the Bruins practice schedule.
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