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Bruins Prepare for Montreal

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Afternoon Update...

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.
After Tuesday’s practice, head coach Claude Julien had plenty more to say about his Boston Bruins and their upcoming trip to Montreal.

Julien indicated that it was just another game.

“Game three of 82,” he added.

That said, Boston will be greeted by yet another pregame ceremony – their third in as many contests.

“(You can) look at it either way and, obviously, tomorrow’s even more special, because it’s their 100th anniversary,” said Julien.  “But we’ve had practice the last two times, so, and again, we don’t spend the whole time out there – it’s in the dressing room -- and you’ve just got to focus on the game, and it’s as simple as that.

“It’s their (right) to do what they have to do, and we just have to wait for the puck to drop and do our job.”

Two men who might make the job a little bit easier are defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Vladimir Sobotka.

“We obviously got some good reports from Providence and they both did well, but we already had good reports before we sent them down.

“We had to cut our roster down, and a lot of guys deserved to stick around. Having said that, sticking around is one thing, keeping your job is also another.

“There’s some extra bodies now, and everyone’s competing for a spot in the lineup, and I think if those guys play the way they played here in cam…they’ll get a chance here as well.”

Despite earlier statements to the contrary, Julien admitted that there will be at least a little baggage toted onto the playing surface on Wednesday.

“Well, I think there’s a lot (of motivation) that we can take from last year…oh-for-eight in the regular season (and) getting pushed out of playoffs,” said the coach. “We have to motivate ourselves the best way we can, and (the best) motivation means we need to go in there with the intention of winning a hockey game.

“I think that’s the most important thing, and if you get too riled up, you’re not controlling your emotions, and we’ve seen that as well.”

Aaron Ward
No matter how much the Bruins attempt to open up their offensive game, the goal remains to maintain the tough defensive game that the club utilized last season and Coach Julien also admitted that not all of the play that fans have seen over the last two games was on purpose.

“We realized after last year that we needed to score a little more, but we did get a little bit sloppy, mostly in the first game,” said Coach. “In the second game I thought we were much better, defensively, but we need to get back to our good habits of last year, defensively, and we have to maybe open it a little more or be a little more creative offensively to score a few more goals.

Having the Canadiens in their sights might be one way to focus the clubs attention on being more precise.

“They’re obviously a good hockey club, and they’ve worked on making it even better,” said Julien. “I think they’ve got the respect around the league (and have) a highly skilled team.

"They’re pretty creative, and you can’t allow them…to have too much space and time, and you’ve got to be disciplined against them.

“You can’t spend the whole night in the penalty box because we’ve seen the results of that in the past.  We have to be ready, and I told our guys today, it’s going to take our “A game,” it’s as simple as that,” he said.

Breaking news
Matt Hunwick. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Mike Dembeck)
The Bruins have recalled defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Vladimir Sobotka from Providence (American Hockey League). 

Hunwick spent the majority of the 2007-2008 season in Providence where he posted 2-21-23 totals in 55 games.  He was recalled to Boston on four separate occasions last year and tallied one assist in 13 games.  The University of Michigan graduate was drafted by the Bruins in the seventh round (224th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.  He was assigned to Providence on October 7, 2008 and has tallied two assists in two appearances for the P-Bruins this year.

Assigned to Providence on October 8, 2008, Sobotka tallied two goals and two assists in the first two games for the P-Bruins this year.  He split the 2007-2008 season between Boston and Providence, and with Boston, saw action in 48 regular season games, contributed one goal and six assists and added two goals in six postseason games.  With Providence, he had 10-10-20 totals in 18 games.  Sobotka was drafted by Boston in the fourth round (106th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

Hunwick and Sobotka are expected to join the Bruins today and travel to Montreal for the team’s game against the Canadiens on Wednesday.

Morning Update...
Watch Shawn Thornton's Vlog
Shawn Thornton is back on Bruins TV and has reprised his Vlog hosting duties.

Following practice yesterday, Thornton talked about the Bruins road trip, the Andrew Alberts trade and the upcoming game with Montreal.

Please pardon the shakiness of the video, it's a new camera and we have to work out the kinks. JB

More from Monday
Besides the Andrew Alberts trade, Boston head coach Claude Julien had a lot to discuss following practice on Monday.

Julien spoke about the injury to Chuck Kobasew.

“ going to be out for at least three weeks,” said Julien. “That’s from the date of his injury, and from there on out…he’ll probably be a day-to-day situation.

Coach was also asked how he thought the team was doing following the short roadie to Colorado and Minnesota.

“When you come back after a road trip .500, you have to say that you’re not happy or pleased,” he said. “It’s still not a bad showing, but I think our team still has to find itself.

“We had some spurts that were very good, but we also had some spurts where we lost our focus and there were some breakdowns.

“Obviously when you give up four goals a game, you’ve got to find out where you can cut those down, and I know there were some bad goals in both games,” he said.

Julien spoke about the club’s defensive game, as well.

“There were two goals in Colorado that we felt Timmy [Thomas] should have had – one between his legs and the other one he kicked a rebound right out on the tying goal, the fourth goal,” he said. “Manny did the same thing (and) gave up a couple tough goals

“One resulted in the win, the other resulted in the loss, but, you know, we had some (defensive) breakdowns, and we have to cut those down (too).

“So I think we can get better.

"It’s fun to see that we’re able to score some goals, now if we can get our game without the puck back to where it was most of last year, that’ll make a big difference,” said Julien.

Blake Wheeler and his early success this season continues to be a hot topic.

Blake Wheeler #42 of the Boston Bruins shoots against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on October 9, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Bruins defeated the Avalanche 5-4. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
“He still did very well, when you look at the way he played and what he accomplished, but I think (he) realized, once every team had a full roster, there’s a little bit more intensity,” said the Bruins bench boss. “There’s obviously a little bit more speed throughout the whole game, and the level of competition has obviously gone up a notch, and there’s no doubt...we’ve got to keep working with him and make some adjustments."

Julien explained that one of the defensive breakdowns happened to belong to Wheeler, but that he was unconcerned, given the forward’s "teachability" and hockey IQ.

“(On) one goal, the fourth goal I think it was, against Minnesota, (Wheeler’s) guy snuck in kind of from behind the net, they passed it to a guy that he should have had,” explained the coach. “So those are things, the little adjustments…(they’re) part of growing pains.

“But he’s an intelligent player, and he’ll get better as the season goes on.

“We just have to keep working with him,” he said.

Julien's praise of Wheeler also encompassed his linemates, Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

“I thought they were very good; they were probably one of our better lines Saturday night,” he said. “And I know it wasn’t them who necessarily scored the goals…but they had generated a lot that night.

“Once it got into the offensive end, those two big wingers, Luch and Wheeler did a great job along the boards, and Krejci is smart, so it made for a pretty good line.

Boston Bruins David Krejci (46) celebrates with Phil Kessel (81) . (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
"For us it’s encouraging, when you see young talent like that be able to hold their own and even, I’m not going to say dominate, but have the better end of the battle (during) their shift’s, it’s encouraging.”

Another youngster who earned praise was Phil Kessel.

“I think a lot of (Kessel’s early success) has to do with…maturity and experience mixed together,” explained Julien. “He’s older, he’s got more experience, and he’s obviously realizing what it takes every night to compete at this level.

“The experience is kicking in.

“We knew his talent level has always been there; it was about the other stuff that had to come along, and I think he’s made some really good strides as far as that’s concerned, and his whole approach this year, his attitude, is even better than it was last year and it’s showing not only off the ice, but on the ice as well.

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