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Game Day: Bruins @ Rangers

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
10:43 p.m.

Late word from New York...
Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who was injured during the B's loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night, will return to Boston on Tuesday and will not join the Bruins for their trip to Ottawa to play the Senators.

The prognosis for the center will not be known until the B's alternate captain sees the Bruins medical staff.

"He’s going back home tomorrow morning so he’ll be reevaluated," said Julien of Bergeron during his postgame comments. "Obviously, it’s a shot that he got on the hand and we’ll know more [then]."

In the short term, the B's have lost Bergeron's services for the remainder of this short trip.

"[Bergeron is ] definitely not coming to Ottawa," said Julien. "We’ll let him see our doctors and probably after he sees them tomorrow, at least we’ll be specific [as to the problem]."

Asked about the potential loss of the center, and its impact on his club, B's head coach Claude Julien did not mince words.

"Let’s put it this way, if he’s not back, we’ve lost our best player since the beginning of the year," said the head coach of Bergeron. "That sums it up, right there."

Boston is scheduled to skate in Ottawa tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m.

6:45 p.m.
Boston's lines...

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6:20 p.m.
We're getting close to gametime and awaiting the final word on the starter (we think Rask) and the scratches (we think McQuaid with Satan and Lucic).

I'm switching back and forth between NESN's "Freezine Fenway" and NHL Network's coverage of the World Junior Tournament (replay of last night's Team USA game).

Remember, the B's game is on VERSUS and the Sports Hub tonight at 7:00 p.m.

3:23 p.m.
The Bruins are getting ready to hit the bus to MSG and renew their acquaintance with indoor hockey.

Yesterday, they talked about enjoying the Winter Classic, but being happy to move into the rest of the regular season.

"Definitely. It was a good experience and I'll never forget it," said Michael Ryder. "But it's time for us to bear down and get into the swing of things [without] the hype about an outdoor game."

And there's no time to bask in the glory that was the OT win over the Flyers, either.

"The Rangers have a good team over there and we know that playing in that arena is always tough...and we know that they have guys who can score goals," explained Ryder. "So, it's [good] to get back now [on Sunday] after we had a day off after the winter classic.

"It's the wind-down to the first half of the season and we to get back and move up the standings."

David Krejci, who was very enthusiastic before and after the outdoor extravaganza, also agreed that it's time to move on.

"It was so much fun," said Krejci. "It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, but the media and everybody was talking about it for a long time -- since the beginning of the season.

"It was good to play in it and I’m happy that it’s behind us now, and now we can refocus for the second half of the season."

And the Rangers are not a team that the Bruins can overlook.

"Yeah, it’s exciting," said Krejci. "It’s a conference battle and we want to keep climbing up [the standings].

"That’s what we want to [start to] do tomorrow."
12:41 p.m.
Julien. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Coach Julien was, again, thinking second half start-up as his team prepared to meet the Rangers this evening. And after morning skate in New York's Madison Square Garden, he said he was looking for forward progress.

"I’ve always said the same every year, and that doesn’t change this year, we’ve got to keep getting better," he said. "We’ve got to make sure we’re heading in the right direction.

"And you’ll see in the second half, there’s going to be teams that are going to be heading in the right direction and you’ll see teams that are going to be slipping.

"You’re starting to see some of it right now, and we don’t want to be that team," he said.

And as far as the things that Julien would like to see improve, the coach provided a short list.

"I think there’s a little bit of everything," he said. "Obviously, as I mentioned, the 60-minute effort from our team has to be a little bit better.

"There’s some individual players that haven’t quite played to their potential -- they’ve been okay. And you know how I feel about okay, that’s never good enough.

"If both those things happen, I think you’ll see us climbing the standings, you’ll see us do much better, you’ll see the power play improve, you’ll see a lot of things just kind of take of itself just by giving a 60-minute effort and individuals pushing themselves to play at their potential," said Julien.

12:22 p.m.
Tim Thomas, Miroslav Satan, Milan Lucic and Adam McQuaid skated the longest.

Tim should be the backup, while #'s 81, 17 and 54 look to be scratches.

11:42 a.m.
Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice after morning skate, which generally indicates that he will get the start in goal.

11:28 p.m.
I'm still waiting on any lineup hints from NYC.

Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is with the team in New York, but before he left on Bear Force one, the B's boss said he was excited to be able to add Miroslav Satan.

"Obviously, he’s a skilled guy who’s been in the league a long time and we just felt we needed to increase our depth at forward, and our skill," said Chiarelli. "He can make plays and he can shoot and he’s always been in tremendous shape.

"He was with Buffalo when Jim Benning was there and he attested to that, so we decided to add him to the mix. He’s friends with Zee [Zdeno Chara] and Zee spoke highly of him. And he was available.

"Actually, I’ve been talking to his representative for the last, probably the last month, and we finally got it done...He had a physical [Saturday] and you see him out here [on Sunday]," he said.

Chiarelli was admittedly surprised that a free agent of Satan's caliber was available so late in the season.

"I spoke with a couple of GM’s, including Chuck Fletcher who was with Pittsburgh at the time and we watched all of his playoff games, shift by shift," said the B's GM. "He wasn’t a prolific point getter in the playoffs, but his work ethic was good and he makes plays.

"He makes those little plays, I don’t know if you saw it today, he makes little plays in tight with skilled linemates and we liked what we saw."

And thanks to that work ethic, Satan should be ready to join the squad in 7-10 days.

"Yeah he was in Long Island [and] was skating four to five times a week," said Chiarelli. I guess he was skating with some of the...injured Islanders, when the Islanders go on the road.

"There’s no issue with his physical conditioning, obviously his game conditioning has to get up to speed, but there’s no issue with his physical conditioning.

"He’s always been a very thoroughly conditioned athlete."

Like Julien, Chiarelli was pleased to add some fire to the competition for ice time.

"You like to create that competition," said the GM. "You can do that within a game, you can do that on the outside of a game.
"Even today, I don’t think I’ve seen as many goals scored on the power play or on rushes today than I’ve seen in the last 10 practices. So I think that’s a good point.

"That competition is renewed and that’s good to see."

Frankly, True Believers, it will be interesting what that internal competition breeds on the ice, tonight! 

11:06 a.m.
It's a full skate in New York. I'll provide details, shortly.

10:17 a.m.
BOSTON - JANUARY 01: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins is congratulated on the Bruins 2-1 overtime win by Ian Laperriere #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 1, 2010 in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
After practice on Sunday, Coach Julien spoke about the Bruins first half -- tonight the B's play game 41 of 82.

"I don’t think we met our expectations because we thought we were going to have a better start," said Julien. "[That] threw a curve into what we thought we were going to do this year.

"But you know, it was kind of a reality check, which I hope will pay off as we move on here.

"We stabilized ourselves a little bit as the season progressed, but I think at the same time, our goals are where they’ve always have been," he said.

Defensive responsibility is a given, and the Bruins have taken care of their end of the ice, but more goals are a must.

"Where we’ve been hurt a little bit has been our production and it’s been a team production [deficit]," he said. "There have been a lot of individuals that are below their normal production and...somehow we need to find that part of our game

"If we find that, I think we’ll see a much different team and if today is any indication of what we can expect in the second half, it was very positive," said Julien of Sunday's practice.

The coach did say that he felt the Bruins were making consistent progress througout the 2009 portion of the season.

"The thing I see is that at least we haven’t gotten worse. We’ve gotten better, but we’ve kind of taken baby steps," said Julien. "And if we’re going to analyze our team and keep something that’s positive in our minds, it’s that we can still be better and that’s a good sign."

A few more practices like Sunday's and the B's bench boss believes the Black & Gold will be on the fast track to second half success.

And with the distractions created by the Winter Classic in the rearview window, there is only one thing to focus on -- the playoffs.

"There was good tempo today and...again, it’s just one day, it’s just one practice," he said. "We’ll see as we move on here, but if we can build on today, hopefully it’ll be a step in the right direction."

9:13 a.m.
It's back to the grindstone, literally, for the Boston Bruins as they sharpen their skates for this evening's tilt with their Original Six cousins, the New York Rangers.

Boston is in New York already, and should be on the ice at Madison Square Garden for 11:00 a.m.

The team traveled with a larger roster than usual, as red shirts Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan both made the trip to NYC and Ottawa.

Samantha Wood contributed to today's blog.

Monday, January 4
5:26 p.m.
"I think the whole team just practiced better today," said Coach Julien after practice this afternoon. "It's encouraging.

"Whether it was the day off [or] the excitement of coming off that outdoor game, it was...a good practice.

"Hopefully we can carry that into our games this week."

Of his new forward Miroslav Satan, Julien said, "He's in pretty good shape actually.

"I think we've seen that through testing and he's really taken care of himself for a guy who hasn't played yet.

"That's one thing. The other thing is getting up to NHL speed," he said.

Both Satan and B's GM Peter Chiarelli put the timetable at about 7-10 days.

"We'll go from there," said Julien. "He needs some time to practice at this pace and we've got a healthy team right now and I don't think we need to throw him in and rush him."

What are Satan's strengths?

"Well he's a skill player," said Julien. "I think everybody knows that. He's had success at scoring goals and making plays.

"Around the net he's got a real good stick, as far as finding those seams, and he's good in tight.

"He's more of an offensively skilled player, which everybody seems to know we could use," he said.

Julien explained that Satan will fill that role well, but is not limited to the offensive side of the puck.

"You have players that their strength is offense and you have to let them play within their strengths.

"We brought him here to help us score some goals and help our team produce.

"[So] you have to let him play within his strengths, but at the same time he is very capagle of playing the other part of the game.

"We know what we've got and there's no issue there."

Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic skates in the snow on the outdoor rink at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009, during team practice in preparation for New Years Day's Winter Classic NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
And there will be heightend competion in the B's forward ranks.

"It's automatic," explained Julien. "You've got Milan [Lucic] knocking at the door getting closer everyday to coming back and you've got [Satan] and we're going to carry an extra defenseman, so if your team is healthy basically you have two or three extra bodies. 

"That's the healthy competition we talk about and if ewe're going to be a better team maybe we need that right now."

12:42 p.m.

It'll be at least 7-10 days until we see Satan in a game. Lucic seems to be a day-to-day situation (with a little bit cautious, wait-and-see) and Mark Stuart was seen skating today (he has been skating for the last few days). But at the moment, Stuart is not considered close to practicing with the team.

11:46 a.m.
A long practice for a Sunday...

11:29 a.m.
Practice keeps chugging along. Lucic has taken some light contact.

11:03 a.m.
Satan is wearing number 81. He and Lucic are wearing bright red, presumably non-contact,  jerseys during practice.

10:49 a.m.

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has signed forward Miroslav Satan to a one-year contract. Per club policy, financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

The 35-year old Satan is a veteran of 1012 NHL games and has potted 354 goals with 367 assists in his NHL career. Satan won the Stanley Cup last year as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and registered 1-5-6 totals in 17 postseason games to go along with 17-19-36 totals in 65 regular season games for the Pens. In his 13 NHL seasons, Satan has hit for 20-plus goals 10 times, including a career high 40 in 1998-99. His best season statistically came in 2002-03 when he tallied 75 points on 26 goals and a career best 49 assists.

Boston will be the fifth club Satan has suited up for, having played for the Oilers, Sabres, Islanders and Penguins. He was originally drafted by the Oilers in the fifth round (111th overall) of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.

The native of Topolcany, Slovakia will play alongside Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for Team Slovakia at the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

10:03 a.m.
The Classics are over, but the Boston Bruins season marches on.

This morning, the Bruins will begin the unofficial second half of their season with a practice in Wilmington and a flight (?) to NYC.

By all accounts, the Classics were an unmitigated success and should mark watershed moments in Boston Bruins history.

B's head coach Claude Julien was the one man who participated in both events.

"It was great," said Julien, who played defense for the Black squad in Saturdays Legends game. "It’s a once in a lifetime situation to play in Fenway Park with all these players, and celebrities and you get to play for charity.

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien, rear, coaches his team during the second period of the New Year's Day Winter Classic NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers on an outdoor rink at Fenway Park in Boston, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
"Everybody gave [their best] and for me it was great just to get out there and play hockey without any pressure.

"It was just what I needed," he said.

Indeed, it was a true pleasure to see the big smile on the B's famously paternal head coach and JUlien was happy to just be wearing a uniform again.

"This is one time I had to sit on the bench and listen," said Julien. "It wasn’t my place to [speak] up, so I just played the role of a player."

Julien didn't mind at all, he was taking it all in.

"No, you don’t dream this stuff up. To be honest with you, in your career you happen to run into these kind of opportunities. You have to try to make the most of it," he said.
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