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Boston @ Philadelphia

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
10:12 a.m.

Coffee in hand, I am about the settle in for my hockey themed morning...

Reminder to talk-radio fans that the New England Hockey Journal Show will air on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on 890 ESPN in Boston and live online at Co hosts are Mick Colageo (New Bedford Standard-Times), Matt Kalman (NEHJ editor) and Kevin Paul Dupont (Boston Globe). They take listener calls at 866-ESPN-890 (866-377-6890), interview players, etc., and hold a weekly trivia contest.

Today the show acts as a bit of an unofficial pregame show, so head over to rev up for the game. JB

10:23 a.m.
As you may have read elsewhere, the Bruins had a pretty interesting practice yesterday.

Two of Our Boys got into something between a shoving match and a hockey fight before settling in for the rest of the session.

While I had seen some scuffles at practice as a spectator in college and have seen the B's push and shove (sometimes with minor league malice) at every Bruins practice, it was unsettling and worrisome for me to see it at Ristuccia yesterday, particularly because one of the combatants was cut on the face and because of the vehemence of the shouting.

But I was assured that intra squad scuffles are part of the norm -- despite there not being one in Bruins practice during my two seasons.

"It happens all the time," said veteran d-man Aaron Ward. "I don't think I've had a team where we haven't had something small.

"And that was nothing.

"I mean, I watched Keith Primeau and Bob Probert go toe-to-toe...that was just a minor scuffle between two brothers," he said.

True enough.

The pair looked to have cooled off by the time everyone made it to the locker room, perhaps having decided to save the rest of their energy for the Flyers.

10:42 a.m.
The other shocking moment of yesterday's practice was the moment when members of the press corps learned that there would be no other Bruins joining captain Zdeno Chara at the 2008 All-Star Game.

The air just went out of the "tree house" in Wilmington.

Assuming people around The League were paying attention, several Bruins had an outside chance at making the squad (P.J. Axelsson, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas, Dennis Wideman, etc.) and it is a shame that the Bruins, one of the surprise teams of this NHL campaign and one of the most popular teams in all of hockey, do not have any more representation in Atlanta.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, right, makes a save on a deflection by New Jersey Devils' Mike Rupp, left, during the third period of Boston's 4-3 win in a hockey game in Boston on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
And while you would have had to have been watching every game to understand the extreme importance of players like Axelsson and Wideman, two other men, in particular, had stats that made their inclusion a natural, if not a lock: Thomas, Savard.

The 33-year old Thomas (10th in saves, 9th in goals against average and FIRST in save percentage), who has toiled in several elite leagues all over the world since leaving college as an elite player in the NCAA for UVM, said that it would have been a "dream come true."

No doubt the 30-year old Marc Savard, a former Thrasher who scored 97 points with the Bruins last season and who has provided Boston with 15% of their total points and is tied for THIRD in the Eastern Conference with 35 assists (just six behind Sidney Crosby and tied with Vincent Lecavalier), agrees with Tim's assessment.

Here's my take:
Both Bruins have stats that put them amongst the elite. And, perhaps more importantly, both men would have put on a show for fans across North America. That's because, unlike some who don't enjoy the concept of playing an All-Star game, both The Tank and Savvy believed it would not only be an "honor" to play, but also a privilege -- they WANTED to go, said so and just wished for the chance to show their stuff before their hockey career was over.

Savvy told me earlier this year that he was afraid that he might never get the chance, particularly because he is no longer a young man (in the NHL). Marc is also the consummate storyteller and I am sorry that I will not get to hear about his exploits in the Eastern locker room and pass them on to my fellow True Believers.

When told of his omission yesterday, Thomas looked particularly taken aback and I have a theory about that. I would bet that Thomas would have seen an All-Star appearance as validation of his NHL experience and perhaps one more "neat" thing to write about when he hangs them up. After all, as one of the other writers said on Friday, Timmy enjoys it all "and lives for the experience."

Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard (91) shoots the puck over Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller for a third period goal during their NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday Nov. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Thomas is proud of his accomplishments and far beyond his initial appearance of a kind of "Rudyesque" character in Bruins lore, Timmy has been embraced as one of the best players on his team and someone who leaves EVERYTHING on the ice.

I sincerely hope that Tim makes the official ballot next year. For three seasons he has been the backbone of the club, and if the playoffs become a reality this season for Boston, it may already be said that Thomas (and Savard) will have been a major part of the equation.

Thousands of Boston Bruins fans across North America deserved to see more than one or their favorite players the ice in Atlanta. And millions of NHL fans also deserved to be introduced to two of the NHL's most interesting and colorful personalities -- personalities that the NHL needs to promote.

As a result, the midwinter classic will be lesser for their absence and I am sorry for that.

Hopefully, not seeing much Black & Gold in the big game on Sunday means that we may have at least a couple of young Bruins (Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, etc.) in the Young Stars game.

End of sermon...JB

11:47 a.m.
Sounds as if the guys on the New England Hockey Journal Show, particularly Mr. Kalman, might agree with my assessment of Tim's missing the game. They have also had Andrew Alberts on this morning and apparently Peter Chiarelli will be on soon.

12:03 p.m.
Kevin Paul Dupont is relaying via 890 ESPN that P.J. Axelsson is out. 

will be the first line. Schaefer-Krejci-Kobasew will be the second line. Lucic-Metropolit-Nokelainen, and Reich-Sobotka-Thornton fill out the lineup.

Alex Auld is in goal, spelling Tim Thomas.

So for consistencies sake...
Chara-Wideman (sg) Auld
Ward-Ference (bg) Thomas
Stuart-Hnidy Go Bruins!

Eddie Shore
12:20 p.m.
This Date in Bruins History...
All-Tim Record on December 12:
Home, 7-9-5. Road, 4-11-2. Overall, 11-20-7

In a 4-1 Toronto win at Boston Garden, Eddie Shore charged Toronto’s Ace Bailey, knocking him to the ice where he went into convulsions. Toronto’s Red Horner retaliated against Shore and both Shore and Bailey were carried to their dressing rooms. Shore suffered a concussion and took seven stitches to the back of his head. Bailey, who did not regain consciousness until he was in the dressing room, was taken to Audobon Hospital where he was in critical condition with a fractured skull. Bailey was transferred to Boston City Hospital, where he underwent brain surgeries on Dec. 14 and Dec. 17 and remained in the hospital for two months. Shore and Horner were suspended indefinitely, with Shore later levied a 16-game suspension, the longest ever to an NHL player (to that point). Toronto General Manager Conn Smythe was charged with assault for an altercation with a fan as he tried to leave the ice, with the charges later dismissed.

1942  The Bruins defeat the Montreal Canadiens by a 3-2 score at Boston Garden in the first matinée in their history. During the first intermission, the first public demonstration of a blood donation took place as a Boston debutante gave blood while a Red Cross employee explained the process to encourage volunteer donors. The game’s proceeds of $6286 were donated to the American Red Cross.

12:41 p.m.
The pregame show on NESN made a good point about Tim Thomas, in that he will have plenty of time off because of his day off today and his not playing in the All-Star Game and that bodes well for his body, which could surely use the rest.

For his part, Tim said he was going to plan to take his daughter to New York City and show her the sights over the All-Star Weekend.

12:46 p.m.
Peter Chiarelli just told the NEHJ Show that while he is actively looking for help, that nobody is going to replace Patrice Bergeron. He said that his job is evern more complicated because of the nature of Patrice's injury (in terms of predicting a return) and also because with so many teams in the playoff hunt, everyone is looking for players to boost their respective clubs.

12:51 p.m.
The last word from Philly...

Axie has a bruised foot and is "day-to-day." I'll place that in the "phew (wipes brow)" category.

I am off to the Running Recap. Have a great day and Go Bruins (and Pats)! JB
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