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Game Day: Bruins @ Panthers

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
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.
Boston 0 0 0-0

Florida 0 0 2-2

First Period-None.

Second Period-None.

Third Period-1, Florida, Dvorak 9 (Bouwmeester, Vokoun), 1:44 (sh). 2, Florida, Dvorak 10 (Campbell, Tarnasky), 6:44.

Shots on Goal-Boston 15-12-14-41. Florida 7-9-13-29.

Goalies-Boston, Thomas. Florida, Vokoun. A-19,343 (19,250). T-2:23.

Third Period Recap: The Bruins fell 2-0 to the Panthers due to two goals in the final period - one 1:44 into the period, and the other five minutes later - by Radek Dvorak.  It was their fifth loss in six games, but they'll have a chance to even the score during a Tuesday night rematch at the Garden.
0:00 - Boston falls 2-0.

5.8 - Kobasew for roughing.

21.0 - Ference made two saves...

43.9 - Timeout Boston.

1:21 - Thomas went to the bench and came back and then went to the bench.

3:14 - Bergeron turns and fires and Vokoun tracks the shot down.

4:56 - Thomas pokechecks a Pathers bid...

5:34 - Campbell shot. Thomas save. Shots are 37-29, Boston.

7:47 - Offsides Florida.

7:59 - Bergeron puts one into the chest of Vokoun, who was handcuffed and had to stand up and hold on.

9:40 - Another save by Thomas. NESN says that's five saves for Thomas on this PP -- thus far.

9:55 - Two saves by Thomas.

11:16 - Too many men on Boston. Coach Julien looks like he had to take a couple of deep breaths. Kessel serves the penalty.

11:52 - Shot Booth. Save Thomas.

12:17 - Save Thomas. He held on for a faceoff. I just saw a replay of Florida's second goal -- what a heads-up play by Campbell.

12:40 - More chances for Boston, and Vokoun made a save on a shot he did not see.

13:16 - Dvorak scores again. This time off a nice pass from Campbell. It's 2-0.

13:38 - Axelsson and friends had at least two more chances to tie this thing up...

14:45 - Boston is offside. Faceoff in the B's end.

15:57- Another save, this time on Chara. Vokoun is making life very difficult for the B's, who are playing very well five-on-five.

16:35 - Vokoun comes through again after a scramble in front. At least two shots.

17:22 - Wow. The B's are really having trouble getting any shots from inside the circles. And Vokoun is really seeing the puck well.

18:16 - Dvorak scores while shorhanded. He just muscled straight to the net and beat Thomas over the shoulder. It's 1-0, FLA.

20:00 - Start of Third Period.
Second Period Recap: It’s still scoreless after 40 minutes. Vokoun and Thomas had to stand tall once again in the face of some more close calls, and Boston got lucky as three consecutive Florida shots came dangerously close to going in the net with about five minutes remaining in the period.
0:00 - Boston will start the third period with a nice 3:59 power play.

1.0 - Zednik gets a four-minute call for high sticking. He caught Andy Ference high. Ference looks okay, though.

29.7 - Chara to the box. Elbowing. Hmmmm.

3:43 - Thornton is the latest to put a shot on goal. This time a slapper from outside the circle. Vokoun stopped it.

5:06 - Somehow, three Panthers shots were kept out of the goal. One post, one save and one block? Unreal.

6:36 - Icing Boston.

8:04 - Vokoun just made his 25th save. This time Axelsson is the victim.

8:41 - It's a 27-second PP for Boston.

10:44 - Andrew Ference is in the box for hooking. Zednik is in for something -- unsportsmanlike conduct. Four-on-four for a bit under two-minutes.

10:58 - Stillman threw a long shot on Thomas. He stops it in his chest protector and holds on for the draw.

11:26 - Another big stop by Vokoun on the combined efforts of Wheeler and Lucic.

12:14 - Vokoun had to make his best two saves of the night on Lucic and Wheeler in succession as the Bruins took advantage of some excellent work by Yelle and Co. in order to create a decent scoring opportunity.

13:20 - An uptick in the hitting, with Boynton and Stuart landing heavy checks.

14:34 - A couple of decent chances for Boston...

16:08 - Lucic puts a tip on goal. Save Vokoun.

17:03 - Offsides Boston. Arrrrrgh.

18:12 - Bergeron tests Vokoun's glove.

19:01 - Wideman broke up a breakaway...he got there just in time.

20:00 - Second Period. B's start on the PP.
First Period Recap: Despite lots of attempts from both teams in a back-and-forth first period, the Bruins and Panthers remain scoreless and tied headed into the second.  The first 20 minutes was a test for both Tim Thomas and Florida's Thomas Vokoun, both of whom made many a save to keep the score at zero.
0:00 - The B's final power play of the period was better than the first two, but even with 15 shots to the Panthers seven, the score remains 0-0.

1:12 - Bitz drew a holding call on Horton.

1:57 - This time Bitzy-cat put one high on Vokoun, who knocked it into the protective netting. Bitz has had a terrific game, thus far. Lots of energy and smart play.

3:34 - Kessel was that close, yet again. He's going to get one, soon.

4:20 - Marc Savard with a nice stop at the blueline...

5:35 - This place is getting loud. The seats are filling in and the successful four-minute PK woke everyone up.

6:38 - Some exciting, if not nervewracking, back-and-forth play...

9:50 - Thomas had to make a stellar save on Dvorak, who got into the Boston zone on a shorthanded two-on-one play.

10:47 - Near miss on a shot by Axelsson. He put one on Vokoun and the puck ticked off his glove, just wide.

12:34 - Wides is back.

13:05 - Frolik got a stick up high into Dennis Wideman. He gets four-minutes in the box. Dennis looked like he had a sore nose, and went to the locker room. But I'd expect him to be back.

13:07 - More strong work by Bitz, who made a fine clear on the blueline and helped create a scoring chance.

14:10 - Thomas hops on a loose puck in front of his net and forces the draw.

15:09 - Lucic shoots from the point, through two Panthers, and Vokoun came up with a difficult save.

15:49 - Weiss hits Timmy in the mask, but the Boston goalie hangs on to the puck.

17:17 - Bitz made an almost super human effort to get a shot off, one handed, through traffic in front of Vokoun, but hit the side of the goal. Very strong work by the big man.

18:20 - Wideman shoots from the point. Save Vokoun.

19:10 - Chara with a nice hit on Frolik in front of the off-ice officials.

19: 48 - Boston controls and Bergeron forces Vokoun to make an early glove save.

20:00 - First Period. A strong start is in order!

Boston Starters:
Axelsson, Bergeron, Kobasew, Chara, Wideman, Thomas
Florida Starters:
Peltonen, Campbell, Dvorak, Ballard, Boynton, Vokoun

Let's switch to time on the clock...

6:50 p.m.
This just in...
I got this in my blog mail: "Hey Bish!  Just giving you a 'heads up' that some of the '307 Gang' are headed to Florida to join the boys for the next 2 games.  We should be pretty easy to spot - Paula with her trademark "patches" jersey and the rest of us proudly diplaying our Black & Gold.  We have seats in the front row in the balcony,  behind the net where the B's shoot twice in both Sunrise & Tampa.  Let's hope we bring the team some luck from home.  Go Bruins!!!
Patty & The Gang from Section 307"

Nice to have you here, guys. And a "hello" to Jonathan a.k.a. MrPresidnt and his girlfriend! JB

6:39 p.m.

Hunwick, Karsums, Nokelainen and Ryder.

6:35 p.m.
It's Vokoun vs. Thomas in goal.

6:27 p.m.
Milan Lucic sounded like he had enjoyed the time off, but was also very much looking forward to facing off against the Panthers. However, like his head coach and teammates, Lucic spoke against being overconfident against Florida.

"We know they are going to be desperate," he said. "So, I think we just have to worry about bringing our game, stick to our game plan and work hard.

"Obviously, we had a nice couple of days before this, so we have to realize that our holiday is over and it was nice having a treat like that.

"Now it's back to work. A good start is going to get things going right."

The Black & Gold want to prove that they can handle some time off, as well.

"I think that's in the back of our mind," he said. "I think we do need to prove that.

"Like I said, it was a fun time and this isn't going to be an easy game tonight...we know it's going to be a challenge.

"They're kind of in the same position as we were last year, so we know they are going to come out hard and we know that they are not going to be intimidated.

"We have to go in there tonight and make sure we get pucks in deep and start off by making good plays and playing in the offensive zone."

When asked about the abundance of smiles around the room recently, Lucic added another grin to the fray.

"I think we've all enjoyed everything that's been going on," he said. "For me, I feel that way especially.

"When I feel good and I am smiling, and I am happy, I do play better. There's obviously that great feeling and that great buzz around the room, but we have to apply that to the game, tonight."

5:36  p.m.
Chuck Kobasew talked about tonight's game following morning skate.

"I think we've practiced hard the last couple of days," said the former Boston College Eagle. "The guys had a good skate this morning, everyone was out there, and we're ready to go.

"It's no different than any other game, we have a chance to get some rest, which is great, and we're prepared for the game.

"I think our only 'approach' is to not change anything," he said.

Kobasew also intimated that he expected tough Eastern Conference battle in front of what is supposed to be a standing room only crow.

"They're playing really well," said the forward. "We know that and we're in their building on a saturday night, so I'm sure there'll be a bunch of fans so it will be good.

12:56 p.m.
The overall sentiment in the room was reflected in the Bruins coach, who said, "We need some energy tonight.

"Since we haven't played since Tuesday, there's no reason not to have it," continued Julien. "It's important that we focus on our game and execute properly."

The Panthers are thinking playoffs, and much like the Bruins of last year, must win most of their games -- a notion that was not lost on Julien, who said, simply, "[The Panthers] are going to battle tonight."

12:27 p.m.
Tim Thomas was the first goalie off for Boston.

11:40 p.m.
Pregame Skate

There are no missing persons this morning at the skate.

The skate itself has more of a practice feel, and seems to be going longer than usual, BTW.

9:53 a.m.

Morning report...
The Bruins are starting to trickle into the BankAtlantic Center for this morning's pregame skate at 11:30 a.m. (or so).

Manny Fernandez, Zdeno Chara and other members of the cast and crew are running around in their shorts getting sticks and pads and skates ready.

It's pretty much a way of life.

I think the average hockey fan would be amazed how much work it is to get one stick ready for a game, never mind two or three. Add to that equation skates and pants and helmets and you have a pretty hefty task list even before a player hits the ice.

You've got to love a sport that basically requires that there be a tool bench in every rink

Another part of that hockey way of life is adversity, whether it comes in the guise of the schedule or injuries or opponent.

Battling Adversity
Battling through adversity is probably the last thing on the collective mind of Boston Bruins fans.

And why should it be?

After all, the citizens of the Hub of Hockey have been cheering on the no. 1 team in the league for some time, but for the individuals dressing in Black & Gold, adversity is no stranger.

That said, head coach Claude Julien spoke about adversity Friday when he was asked about Phil Kessel's recent struggles around the net.

“The message you have to give a young player like [Kessel] is to work your way through it,” he said of the 21-year-old forward who has not scored since January 3rd.

“That’s the biggest thing,” continued Julien. “Some people wait for it to happen again, and some people work to make it happen.”

According to Julien, the solution is perseverance and hard work.

“Don’t stop doing things, or don’t be afraid to do extra to get yourself going again. If you’ve got to shoot 100 pucks before practice or after practice, if you’ve got to do extra – do it,” Julien said.

David Krejci, who has had dry spells of his own since turning pro, explained the difficulties of breaking out of a dry patch.

“It’s really tough for your mind,” said Krejci. “It’s in your head always, so you’re trying to do different stuff.

“I think the best thing is to not think about it. It’s hard but you have to find a way to not think about it and keep everything simple; don’t get cute.”

Asked specifically about his very talented roommate, Krejci empathized, but thinks that Kessel’s scoring slump will be forgotten soon. He, like everyone in Boston, has seen Kessel's talent and knows that the goals will come.

“I know that it is tough for him that he’s not scoring now, but when you’re off the ice you try to just stop and not think about hockey and I think that helps,” said Krejci. “Last game, we were having fun on the bench, talking, so it’s good to see him like that.

“He’s getting chances, I think it’s just about time; it’s going to go in.”

Perseverance as a mindset...
Perseverance, and hard work, have been the mainstay of the Bruins organization under Coach Julien -- particularly this year, during a season that has often seen the club playing with several recent members of Providence Bruins sprinkled throughout the lineup due to injury.

“I don’t think it really matters right now that much who you play; everybody’s fighting for something,” Julien said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any easy games here on in, and that’s pretty much the way it is this time of year.”
And with the Panthers working toward a playoff spot, Saturday’s game will be anything but simple.

“Sure enough, losing [Thursday] night certainly will make them even hungrier for our game,” Julien said. “The one thing I know is that we have been getting the best of every team so far. Every team gets up for our hockey club, and rightfully so.

“We’ve got good challenges all the time, and I think this team here has come a long way.”

Angela Latona co-authored the above selection.
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