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Bruins Regroup in Wilmington

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
5:26 p.m.

Today, following practice, Boston Bruin forward and cancer survivor Phil Kessel was joined by B’s rookie Blake Wheeler at Mass General Hospital, where they visited pediatric cancer patients.

The NHL has declared October Hockey Fights Cancer month and in the coming weeks the Boston Bruins will be reaching out to patients of all ages suffering from cancer. Hockey Fights Cancer is a league wide initiative to create cancer awareness and today's visit was the Bruins kickoff event.

Kessel was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 his rookie season with the Boston Bruins when he was just 19 years old.  He was treated at Mass General Hospital.  Wheeler, Kessel’s current teammate in Boston was also a teammate of Phil at the University of Minnesota.

10:16 a.m.
Anyone watching last night’s shootout loss to the Canadiens, even those who might be wearing bleu, blanc et rouge jerseys, wanted a full OT of hits and spills, saves and skating.

But the five-minute overtime and shootout were not the only unsatisfying things about last night’s game in the Bell Centre.

After last season’s seven game battle, what we got Wednesday, Game 8 if you will, was just not enough, particularly because the B’s were unable to put in a full 60-minute effort during regulation play.

For the Bruins, who had a lapse of just five minutes last night, the fact that they scored three goals to force the overtime and a shootout was a nice anecdote. But Boston is clearly sick of moral victories.

“Obviously that first period was not the start we wanted, but we came back in the second and third period,” Patrice Bergeron said to Steve Harris of The Boston Herald. “We never stopped battling. That’s a big point.”

However, Boston wanted two points and an end to the 12-game regular season losing streak in Montreal.

"It's early in the season, but we can't keep talking about the same thing," said Marc Savard (five goals in three games) to The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa. "We have one bad period and end up losing the hockey game.

“Everybody battles right to the end. We've got that type of team. We got a point, so we're happy but not satisfied. There's work to be done. We know that. You almost feel like it's a must-win coming up on Saturday. We've got to be ready."

Also speaking to The Globe, Bruins head coach Claude Julien mirrored Savard’s remarks.

"You can't make mistakes like we made in the first period and expect to win hockey games," he said. "We had to get better. From the goaltender out. We needed big saves. We needed smarter plays. We needed everything."

Milan Lucic, who traded jabs with Montreal’s Mike Komisarek and joined him in the penalty box for 10-minute cooling off period, told USA Today, "There was a little lull in the first period. We can't expect to win letting in three goals in four minutes.

“But I think we showed a lot of character coming back. If anything, we can build from it. It goes to show we need to put in a full 60 minutes."

Character was also apparent in the actions of Boston beat cop Shawn Thornton, who took Georges Laraque’s game right to the big man and, after scoring an initial takedown, allowed the Canadiens enforcer up and let a fair fight continue.

There’s no way to say that Thornton won the bout. Laraque simply landed more blows than the Bruins forward, but he wasn’t beaten, took Laraque’s best and showed how much he values Boston’s enthusiastic sophomore (Lucic) and the club’s captain (Chara).

“There was a lot of talk about how much bigger they were going to play…with big Georges in the lineup,” said Thornton to NESN’s Naoko Funayama. “So I figured that I might as well get it over with and try and neutralize that aspect of it.

“He’s a big tough guy, so it’s never fun to grab a hold of him, but I didn’t want Luch or Zee having to take care of it, tonight. That’s my job. That’s part of the reason I’m here, so that’s why it’s happened.”

Reading today’s hockey stories, it is clear that the Bruins are not taking any of these early games lightly and virtually every member of the Black & Gold is demanding more from their club. They remain unsatisfied with their play. They want to show the hockey world that their play going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and during their seven game series with Montreal was the rising action of a club that has not yet seen its best days.

“We’re happy, obviously, because we battled right to the end,” said Savard to NESN. “But these are our archrivals and we have to be more than ready.

“We gave up three in the first period and (there were) some bad efforts by a lot of us, so we had to give our heads a shake in between periods.”

After the first period, before the headshake, Andrew Ference told Funayama, “It was some sloppy play. Obviously that led to a couple goals…just not picking up bodies and sticks.”

The antidote for the red, white and blue flu?

“We have to get back to (being calm) and actually producing something,” said Ference. “It’s one thing to hold them at bay, but it’s another thing to actually go on the offensive and try and create something.”

Creating something that lasts is always on the mind of Coach Julien, who admitted that he did take some solace in the performance of his club in the second and third.

“I think that’s going to be a big point if you look back at it at the end of the year,” said the coach, who lamented his clubs uneven play in the first period.

“We lost our focus for about three and a half minutes and they scored three quick goals.”

Julien knows how to correct those issues.

“I think it’s just everybody being accountable,” he said to NESN. “The way they scored the goals and the mistakes we made, were all things we had talked about before the game…but the good part is that we redeemed ourselves.

“I liked the way we battled back, and we have to take that point and realize it is a big point especially after being down, 3-0.

“It’s about keeping your emotions in check and making sure you are focused out there,“ he said.

One wonders if Coach Julien will keep those emotions in check when the Bruins practice today in Wilmington.
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