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Game Day: Bruins @ Hurricanes

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

Boston 0 2 2-4

Carolina 1 1 0-2

First Period-1, Carolina, Cullen 9 (LaRose, Kaberle), 16:06.

Second Period-2, Boston, Wheeler 12 (Hunwick), 2:23. 3, Boston, Wheeler 13 (Krejci, Wideman), 6:04. 4, Carolina, Babchuk 2 (Sutter, Bayda), 10:58.

Third Period-5, Boston, Ryder 13 (Savard), 13:46. 6, Boston, Kobasew 6 (Savard, Wideman), 19:44 (en).

Shots on Goal-Boston 7-5-10-22. Carolina 14-11-6-31.

Goalies-Boston, Thomas. Carolina, C.Ward. A-16,705 (18,680). T-2:23.

0:00 - Bruins win! Phew...

Off to the locker room and a happy plane ride!

15.1 - Kobasew scores into an open net. It's 4-2, Boston.

1:08 - Time out Carolina.

1:09 - Ward out for the extra attacker...

2:31 - Axelsson hits the post, but Ward tracks the puck down.

2:46 - Kobasew caught Carolina short and drives into the zone and handcuffs Ward, who stayed with the puck and waited for the faceoff.

4:08 - Gleason with a shot that Tim snags in front of his face. He holds on...

6:14 - Heard nearby: "That was filthy!" Ryder ended up with the puck on the doorstep and put it away with authority. Boston is up 3-2. Great pass by Savard.

NESN reports that's Ryder's 10th goal in his last 13 games. Nasty.

8:46 - Stuart in the box for a crosscheck.

10:05 - St. Pierre beats Ward this time and hits the post!

10:19 - St. Pierre with a wrist shot that is snagged by Ward.

11:45 - Good PK by Carolina, who held on through a strong Bruins power play.

14:16 - Walker in the box for roughing. THAT is a HUGE BREAK.

14:29 - Hunwick makes Ward work really hard to keep the Bruins from taking the lead. His wrist shot was a tough one for the netminder to track down.

14:48 - Chara gives a little extra to Staal behind the Bruins net and there's some shoving, but nothing else.

15:27 - With Staal right in front, Thomas makes a shorthanded save and holds on.

16:41 - Axelsson is in the box, again, for hooking?

17:06 - Babchuk hits the post...

18:07 - Boston presses during the shorthanded situation and put two decent shots on Ward's net.

18:57 - Samsonov hits iron on a PP breakaway...

19:22 - Hight sticking on Axelsson. It's a minor.

20:00 - Start of the Third.
0:00 - Another uneven period for the Bruins. It's 2-2, thankfully, and the B's have another 20-minutes to make this a "W", however that's only because of the work of Wheeler and Thomas. Shots are still very much in Carolina's favor (25-12).

21.9 - Thomas stops Staal and holds on for a faceoff.

40.4 - Icing Boston.

4:20 - Joe Corvo is in the bin for delay of game (puck over the glass).

4:26 - Icing Hurricanes.

4:36 - Sluggish is the word I've been searching for...Too much turkey?

7:06 - The Hurricanes are pressing for the lead and are now up on shots, 20-9. The B's need to reach down for a little more in the last 27 minutes, or this could get ugly, fast.

9:02 - Babchuk with a laser that goes over Thomas' shoulder. It's 2-2. Boston remains out of sync.

11:53 - Ruutu with another shot on Thomas.  Shots are 17-9 Carolina.

13:54 - That was ugly, but pretty at the same time. Wideman shoots. Save. Hunwick Krejci shoots, block, squirts to Wheeler, and Wheels deposited the puck into a yawning net. Nice goal.

17:37 - Looks like we have a hockey game. Wheels converts a great individual effort to put Boston on the board. Let's see if this gives the B's some more life. Give Hunwick a helper, BTW.

19:35 - Timmy already has a save...

19:58 - Carolina wins the draw.

20:00 - Second Period. More intensity...
0:00 - Not a great period for the B's. But the Tank was brilliant at times, and kept the score a manageable 1-0 in favor of the Hurricanes. Tim had 13 saves as Carolina led in shots, 14-7.

2:25 - Savard is in the box for slashing.

3:54 - Carolina's Larose put it on net. Tim kicked it out to Matt Cullen who chipped it by Thomas to make the score, 1-0, Hurricanes.

5:41 - Tim stopped Samsonov, again. This time Sergei was in front, picked up a rebound and shot it right into the spoked-B.

6:25 - St. Pierre has a shot on Ward, who turned that bid away.

7:38 - Sammy is out of the box and tests Timmy, sho gloves the shot down.

10:21 - Samsonov is in the box for Carolina. High sticking.

10:42 - Thomas stops Pitkanen. Carolina leads in shots, 5-2.

12:06 - It's early, but the B's are not in sync.

12:48 - Tim punctuates the "Thomas, Thomas, Thomas" chant with a kick save. Nice timing.

14:12 - Thomas shuts down Ruutu. Shots are 3-2, Carolina.

16:51 - Wideman and Lashoff collide on the boards looking to get the icing call on Carolina.  They got the icing and the nobody was hurt.

18:09 - Thomas makes his first save...

18:47 - Kessel has the game's first shot on goal.

19:38 - Ward survives the first flurry in front of his net.

19:57 - Yelle wins the faceoff and the B's push into the Carolina zone.

20:00 - Start of the first period.

The Hurricanes should be tired -- how about an overwhelming start?

Boston Starters: Axelsson, Kobasew, Yelle, Hunwick, Wideman, Thomas
Carolina Starters: Williams, Cullen, Larose, Seidenberg, Pitkanen, Ward

Switching to time on the clock...

6:38 p.m.
Here are the lines...

Lucic - Savard - Kessel
Axelsson - Yelle - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Sobotka - St. Pierre - Thornton
Chara - Stuart
Hunwick - Wideman
Lashoff - Hnidy

Scratches: Nokelainen, Sturm, A. Ward, Bergeron

6:31 p.m.
It's a pair of #30's in goal. Cam Ward vs. Tim Thomas.

6:14 p.m.
Play your game...
Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic, left, skates against New York Islanders' Radek Martinek, of the Czech Republic, during first period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 28, 2008 in Boston. Bruins won 7-2. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
Tonight, like they have for most of the season, the Bruins will try and dictate the style of the game.

"We can't get worked up or overwhelmed [worrying] about what they are going to do," said B's forward Milan Lucic after this morning's skate. "We should be worrying about what we're going to do when we get out there.

"So far this year we've stuck to our own gameplan and that's made us successful."

However, Lucic expects no less than the Hurricane's best when Carolina takes the ice.

"They'll bring the same things they brought in Boston," he said. "I thought they had a really good start and were really tight in the defensive zone and the neutral zone.

"So, it's another game that we're going to have to work hard [because] it's going to be a battle tonight."

Across the room, defenseman Mark Stuart was saying the same things.

"I'll [expect] a lot of the same of what they gave us in Boston," said Stuart. "They gave us a tough game there.

"That was one of the hardest fought games that we played all year -- they come at you hard, they're physical and they definitely have some skill, too."

In terms of the skill department, Eric Staal is exhibit one.

"Staal is dangerous anytime he is on the ice," continued Stuart. "You saw it last night with those three goals.

"It's going to be a tough game, especially in their building, too."

Stuart also spoke to the B's playing their own style of game.

"Sometimes you kind of get caught up in what the other team is doing," said Stuart, "and you're just reacting to them instead of just playing your game or making them react.

"You have to know what they are going to bring, understand their systems...but also concentrate on what we need to do."

4:46 p.m.
Terror on the bus...
The most stressful time of any non-player's day is often several hours before, or immediately after, the hockey game.

That's because the seating arrangements on the bus to/from the rink is never static, but is always attempting to be static. I'll try to explain...

EVERY bus is different and every bus lineup is different.

For instance: Did the GM come? Is (Cam Neely, Don Sweeney, Bob Essensa) on the bus? Is it a NESN or Versus game? Did (insert player here) cab over to the rink?

The combinations are incredible!

Now, there are certain consistent, but unwritten, hierarchies, too. The most important of those "states" that the GM and the head coach get the front seats on either side of the bus. Behind them, on either side, are usually the assistant coaches.

But if anyone else from management travels, then everyone gets pushed back, etcetera and so on.

Now, the same forces push back from the rear of the bus when a player from Providence or a rehabbing player or rookie doesn’t know where to fit in superstition or habit wise.

So, the new, or displaced, player inevitably and rightly takes a spot that is usually fair game for a staffer (like me) or a media member (like the NESN crew).

By the way, the hierarchy in back seems to go from back to front, depending on the age, NHL veteran status and time on the team. Also, for us non-management or non-playing types, the unwritten rule, so far as I've been able to discern, is that any player, injured, healthy or sitting has takes precedence over pretty much anyone -- a good rule considering they are the guys throwing their bodies all over the place.

But sometimes this leads to two or three non-players hopping out of seats and falling over themselves to get out of a player's way.

You dig?

So say, for instance, you try and figure out a way to "not be in the way" and attempt to count back to your "space" on the bus.

For example: I try and be on the right side of the bus, five or six seats back -- not because of any superstition -- but by trial and error, no "harm" has befallen me in that general vicinity.

However, the Bruins young forward and a recent call up from the P-Bruins, Vladimir Sobotka,  tends to sit directly behind me, which means that the youngsters’ section of the bus is pushing forward. But, right in front of me Johnny Bucyk separates the coaching staff and front office from me and the media and whatever staff is on the bus. So, he and the staff are pushing back.

Today, I was lucky.

Equilibrium was achieved and nobody seemed confused or put out by my placement. Thank goodness.

I can't speak to anyone else's fate, but it really doesn't matter -- after the game the whole dance begins anew, anyway!

4:09 p.m.
Back on track…
Speaking of the hockey game tonight, this morning Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that he was not concerned about any rustiness following the NHL's holiday break.

“[The break] was good for everybody,” said Julien. “To get a couple of days away from the rink and change the scenery a little bit is always good.

“As long as we get our focus back and our guys [play] with a lot of energy it’s really good for us."

Julien said that his club has remained on-task throughout the year.

“I think our focus has been pretty good," he said. "I don’t think I am going to engage them about the Christmas break or their focus.

"All 30 teams go through it, so it’s just up to us to make sure that we are ready to go and keep rolling the way we have been."

Coach also implied that the B's game against New Jersey may have already refocused his Boston club.

“The comments we made, as a coaching staff, after the game [indicated] that it was nice to have put ourselves in that position where we really had to defend well against a team that really just thrives on mistakes,” said Julien of the Devils. “I think we had to be very, very careful against the Devils about not turning pucks over and being strong on the pucks.

“But most of all [it was about] being patient. I think it was nice to win a game that way and it was nice to see our team respond well.”

3:02 p.m.
Johnny "Chief" Bucyk
So yesterday, when I got on the plane, just before I settled into my seat I heard a voice from a couple rows back yell, “Bish! Get your phone and your camera.”

Now with all of the video we’ve been adding to the site, my trusty digital has become a little ho hum, but in this particular situation ye olde camera won a bet.

“Take a picture and send it to Chmura,” said John “Chief” Bucyk.

That’s all he said -- nothing more, nothing less.

He didn’t need to say anything else, because even if the picture doesn’t tell 1000 words, in this case it is certainly worth a steak dinner.

That’s right; Chief won “the” bet.

And in case you don’t remember, Matt Chumra, the Bruins communications impresario, bet Chief that he could not forgo food on the team’s chartered plane until after Christmas.

Chief did, and has, until yesterday afternoon, the day after Christmas. The pictures were taken, the text was sent and Chmura’s reply was simply, “Great.”

There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow...
Is it a TV or a mirror?
The Bruins are staying in a brand new hotel complex here in the greater Raleigh-Durham area.

The hotel is so new, in fact, that the team is actually the first set of guests to stay in the place.

Now, I don’t know about you, but technology never ceases to amaze me, even as I watch Spenser: For Hire on my trusty laptop.

And while I always assumed that the "Carousel of Progress" in Disney World would foretell some of the innovations we all use everyday, it was still pretty neat to play checkers with my dad in Connecticut via Skype yesterday and talk to my wife, who was visiting her brother in California on Christmas, via webcam on Thursday.

But today, here at the hotel,  I discovered something else straight out of Tomorrowland.

When we checked in, those of us on the trip were a little surprised to find remote controls in our washrooms and nearly all of us figured that they were left there accidentally as the hotel readied itself to open.

Nope. It was another “innovention.” Click the power button and your bathroom mirror suddenly becomes a flat screen TV.

What will they think of next? Glowing pucks? Ha.

11:38 a.m.
Ward and Nokelainen were the last men off the ice -- Coach Julien confirmed that they will not be in the lineup tonight.

11:03 a.m.
Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice. Look for him to start tonight against Carolina.

10:31 a.m.
The entire team is on the ice, including Petteri Nokelainen and Aaron Ward.

10:10 a.m.
Chuck Kaiton
Those of you who are from Connecticut and are above a certain age will remember the dulcet tones of Chuck Kaiton calling Hartford Whalers games on WTIC 1080 out of Hartford.

Well, it may comfort you to know that he is still with the organization and calls the 'Canes games on radio. He just walked in the building to watch the Bruins skate and I heard his familiar voice say, "I think I watched a 5-4 game last night!'

Back-to-back games are fun, to a point. And back-to-back games with travel in between stretch that fun factor to its breaking point.

9:47 a.m.

RBC Center
We're already in the RBC Center for the morning skate.

Since Carolina played last night in Atlanta, the Bruins were able to take the earlier time slot and take advantage of an extra hour to rest this afternoon. Our Boys will be on the ice at 10:30 a.m.

I am looking forward to seeing if there are any lineup changes for this evening's tilt. Will Aaron Ward play? Also, will Claude Julien stick with his rotation and play Manny Fernandez tonight, or will we see Tim Thomas?

Either choice will do, obviously, but Thomas had a shutout in his last effort, so it would not be shocking to see Julien call the Tank's number again.

You also have to wonder what type of crowd will be in the building, tonight. This is big basketball and football territory -- we passed NC State's football stadium on the way in and the RBC Center is decorated with dozens of banners celebrating their basketball program.

Apparently, there is no home television broadcast for the game, either. So those of you watching on NHL Center Ice will certainly enjoy NESN's broadcast!

December 26th
11:02 p.m.
Mike Smith moves to block the puck against the Florida Panthers
There's no doubt that earlier this evening many of the Bruins (and certainly many fans in the Hub of Hockey) watched the B's opponent on Saturday, the Carolina Hurricanes, outlast this Sunday's opponent, the Atlanta Thrashers, 5-4, in Philips Arena.

Clearly, the high scoring back-and-forth contest was a far cry from the 2-0 win the Bruins earned over the New Jersey Devils on the 23rd. But after practice on Friday morning, B's head coach Claude Julien said that he didn't necessarily expect the Bruins to play that same way every game.

"That's New Jersey's specialty," said Julien of the defensive orientation of the game against the Devils last Tuesday. "So, I don't know if it's going to get to that point or not, where it's seven scoring chances apiece, but it was just one of those [games] where both teams respected the other team and knew that they had to play tight.

"Going forward, I don't think you are going to see seven to seven [scoring chances] tomorrow against Carolina -- they are more aggressive. But we're capable of playing whatever game is thrown at us and adjust without changing our system.

"It's just that when teams are tight we're not going to be gambling. And when it's an aggressive game we can be aggressive as well and take advantage of that on turnovers," said Julien.

The Bruins have morning skate at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, so look for plenty of updates throughout the day.

1:50 p.m.
A pre-flight injury update...
New York Islanders' Sean Bergenheim (20), of Finland, goes up against Boston Bruins' Aaron Ward, left, as Islander's Josh Bailey watches in the background during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Nov. 28, 2008 in Boston. Bruins won 7-2. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
"He's going to skate tomorrow morning," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien of Aaron Ward. "We'll see how he feels.

"He's been off the ice for awhile and you have to put him in [a good] situation.

That said, Coach concluded by saying, "If he's okay to go, he's going to go."

As far as Petteri Nokelainen, the news continued to be positive and the forward will make the trip. However, the best news of the morning was about Patrice Bergeron.

"I can tell you he is doing better," said Julien. "But it is hard to put a time line on those kind of things.

"They are what they are and nobody is able, not even doctors, can tell you the length of time [that he will be out].

"We have to go day-by-day and see how quickly he recovers [but] I know for a face that today was better than yesterday, so that's definitely positive news."

12:28 p.m.
Defenseman Aaron Ward hopes to back in action very soon.

"My target was the day I came back in Atlanta, so we're revisiting the scene of the crime," he said. "Hopefully, I play at some point on this road trip."

Ward also said that today he had practiced some of the movements that had caused him to exit the game against Atlanta, but that had no issues.

11:27 a.m.
The B's switched to penalty shots and the goalies ruled the day.

Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas only allowed three goals -- one each to P.J. Axelsson, Dennis Wideman and Blake Wheeler.

After the shootout contest, the B's moved on and performed some line rushes and battle drills.

11:15 a.m.

Power play drills are the first order of the morning and both units were seeing plenty of time.

11:04 a.m.
It's a crowded sheet of ice at Wilmington's Ristuccia Memorial Arena, what with four full lines of Bruins, seven defensemen, two goalies and Petteri Nokelainen (wearing a red "no-contact" jersey).

Judging by the perceived attitude of the Black & Gold, the two full days of rest did them a lot of good -- that's particularly so going into a three game which takes the team swing with the Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers and (a home-and-home with the) Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the injury front, besides the aforementioned Nokelainen, Aaron Ward is also on the ice, wearing a regular black practice jersey, and running through drills with no apparent issues.

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