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Game Day: Bruins @ Kings

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
12:52 p.m.

Nobody expects an easy game from the Kings. Before warmups, Coach Julien said: "They’re an improved team. They came out again pretty good this year, had a great start, I know they stumbled a little bit lately but if you look at their last game that they played against Anaheim, there’s no doubt that they gained some confidence from that. Hopefully we did too and that should make for a good match-up."

Stuart and Krejci are playing. Click here for the full lineup.

12:30 p.m.
Jon Quick led the Kings out of the locker room.

12:03 p.m.
According to Coach Julien, Marco Sturm is day-to-day with a leg injury and will not play against the Kings.

David Krejci and Mark Stuart will take warmups and are possibilities to play against LA.

Tim Thomas is in goal for Boston.

11:31 a.m.
If defenseman Mark Stuart plays tonight, it will mark the end of one of the toughest stretches in his career.

"It will be exciting just to get back in there," said Stuart while he prepared his sticks. "What you want to do is help the team and hopefully I can come and do that.

"Obviously, in my first game back I want to keep things simple, but I want to try and find my game again," said Stuart. "Physically I am feeling great and now I'll probably have to find my timing a bit when I first get out there.

"Being in a game situation is obviously a lot different than practice. I mean, you can practice all you want, but until you get out there you don't really know.

"So, yah, I'm am excited to get out there and help the team again," he said.

Stuart, the former captain of Colorado College, had been the Bruins iron man with 196 regular season games played streak. Now, after missing 14 contests, the big defenseman has had enough of being in the pressbox.

Mentally, the pain of not playing was, perhaps, even more difficult than the actual physical pain of the injury.

"Not playing, it's hard. Just to sit and watch games, you want to be out there with the guys and helping them win. And when you are not doing that you feel like you are not doing your job and that is a hard thing to deal with. But you realize that you just have to get better and concentrate on getting healthy. I know I did that and I am feeling good," he said.

11:17 a.m.
I just talked to Steve Begin in the hallway in front of the Bruins locker room.

He agreed with me when I said that today is a very big game for the Black & Gold.

"Of course, I mean, four points out of six," he said. "That would be a good road trip and that's what we aimed for before we left and that's what we are looking for.

"We want to win tonight, of course...and I think it would put this team on the right track."

Two wins do not a season make, but Thursday's game smacked of a season-changer. But that probably doesn't happen if there is no "W" in LA.

"We need to play the way we played last game," said Begin. "We knew it would be a big challenge for us, coming into that building last game. They have a good team and we had a few injured guys, so we knew what we had to do and everyone brought what they had.

"So, tonight we're going to need the same game."

These are not your father's Kings, and the Los Angeles residents are 26-18-5 with 55 points. Boston is 23-16-7 for 53 points.

"We need guys to play well, play hard and yes, that's going to happen in the second half of the season, too."

The Bruins did not have a morning skate, so there's not much to report in terms of lineup. We'll have the full lowdown after warmups.

10:41 a.m.
After earning a career-high 41 saves in Thursday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was all smiles.

“I was happy to get the win in the shootout for the guys so they could get rewarded [for all their hard work],” Thomas said.

The humble veteran goalie contributed the win to his teammates, who despite several key injuries, kept up with the powerhouse San Jose roster.

“I hope it’s a statement to ourselves that we may be low on manpower, but if we go out there and do the right things we can not only just compete on a nightly basis, but we can put ourselves in a position to win those games on a nightly basis,” he said.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien mentioned Thomas’ effort as a major factor contributing to the team’s success.

“Timmy had to steal us one and our top guys had to be our top guys,” Julien said. “Our team just showed up tonight and that was probably nice to see that you got rewarded with a win.”

9:12 a.m. (in Los Angeles)

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara looked relaxed as he talked to bostonbruinsTV on Friday afternoon.

In a quiet spot overlooking the hotel pool, the Bruins big man said that the seeds of Thursday night's victory were sown in the waning moments of the Bruins loss to Anaheim.

"Yeah I thought that we played extremely hard in Anaheim and we deserved better than that, but obviously that’s sport, that’s hockey," said Chara. "We made some mistakes and it cost us a game. The following night, playing San Jose, such a good team with so many great players, it was a big challenge for us because right before the game we lost another player, David [Krejci], and we knew that we had to answer the challenge.

"And for sure we were all realizing how important it was to put in 60-minute effort and work and work extremely hard every shift."

Thinking about his teammates, Chara looked pleased.

"[We knew] every single player would have to do his part in that game and I thought we played really great team game, and we put tremendous effort into that win."

A win against the Kings might just make this road trip a turning point in the Bruins uneven season. Asked if his club could put together another big effort, Chara answered in the affirmative.

"Well of course it’s possible," began Chara. "It’s one of those things that we have to make sure we bring [the B's best game] again tomorrow afternoon.

"LA’s really really improved in the last couple of years. They have obviously really skilled forwards and as D-men they really like to control the puck, especially in the offensive zone, they don’t like to just give it up. They’re a really hardworking team, a young team.

"For sure it’s going to be a big task for us."

The entire season has been a big task for the Bruins, who have fought adversity from the drop of the first puck. Chara agreed when I said I thought this season was the club's most difficult since he had arrived -- in terms of mental preparation and fatigue.

"Yeah I think so, I felt that right away coming into the training camp," said Chara. "The challenges were coming from every direction, especially after last year.

"I thought that this year was, for sure, challenging right from beginning. Obviously we didn’t have the greatest start and even having said that, we picked it up and played better anywhere from those 10-25 games.

"We started to have some inconsistency again but right now we are battling some adversity with injuries and tough schedule as far as travel. So there is a lot of those kind of things in the schedule that you can’t really control, but the only thing we can control is the effort and the hard work like we did last night."
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