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Game Day: Bruins @ Red Wings

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
6:48 p.m.
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6:00 p.m.
Dennis Wideman weighed in on the B's scoring slump this afternoon.

"Well it’s a number of things," said the defenseman. "I think before it was we weren’t really scoring, but we weren’t playing well defensively.

"I think the last four games we’ve shored that up. We’ve played really well defensively and battled hard we’ve had scoring chances we’ve got the puck in quite a bit better the last two games, but we just haven’t been able to bury it."

Like many members of the Black & Gold, Wideman feels as if maybe some of it is in the players' heads.

"It seems like when you get into a slump and things aren’t going in, the goalie starts making all sorts of saves," he said. "But when you start scoring everything just starts to come in bunches.

"So, as long as we keep doing the same thing...and just keep banging away. Eventually they’re going to have to start going in for us."

A lucky bounce would help -- a little.

"When everything seems to be going in and you’re scoring a lot, you seem to be getting bounces off shin pads and things like that," said Wideman. "Lucky bounces like...that seem to happen.

" comes down to getting pucks to the net and creating those chances and having guys in front so you can get bounces like that."

4:59 p.m.
Two Bruins are making their homecoming here in Michigan: Tim Thomas and Matt Hunwick.

"Well I think it’s always nice to play in familiar territory," said Hunwick on Monday. "I’ve played quite a few games here during my college career and I was able to see quite a few games when I was younger so it’s always nice to come back and play in front of your friends and family.

"So, I’m looking forward to [Tuesday] night’s game."

Hunwick was able to head back to the University of Michigan to see friends, family, classmates and teammates.

"I went and saw some guys [Sunday] night and I was able to see a lot of the players and coaches last week as well.

"After [their] game with BU I was able to catch them Sunday morning so my brother’s been handling all the ticket requests from all the U of M people so I think he’s done a good job with that."

Oh, that's right -- Matt's little brother is a Wolverine, as well.

"Shawn Hunwick. He’s a backup goalie right now," said Hunwick. "He’s a junior so this is his third year in Ann Arbor.

"well I shouldn’t say his third year in Ann Arbor.

"He’s been coming up here since I was a freshman so this is probably his seventh year in Ann Arbor, but it’s his third year going to school there," he said.

Thomas hails from nearby Flint.

"Well this is only my second time in the NHL so it’s always special," he said. "My family is very excited.

"To me, in a certain way, it’s just another game because we have so many games during the season, but to many family, this is a huge deal. So s little added pressure I guess."

Tim spent Monday night with the fam.

"Yeah, there will be kind of a family dinner [Monday] and I get to see some people that I don’t really get to see very often anymore," he said Monday afternoon.

Tim said he was a Red Wings fan as a kid, but that it wasn't very easy to do so.

"Basically there was no NHL package, no [local cable channel] when I was young," he said. "There was Hockey Night in Canada.

"Later on when I was in high school there was a local channel that was carrying the Red Wings games, but before high school it was actually pretty tough to see a Red Wings game."

In that case, it seems pretty fitting that tonight Tim should certainly have one of the best seats in the house.

3:17 p.m.
Coach Julien is not greedy.

"I'll take just enough goals to win a game," said Julien, with a chuckle.

Boston's scoring troubles are well-documented, but don't look for a sob story from the B's bench boss.

"It'll come," said a now serious Julien. "We know we've got enough in our lineup right now to score goalis.

"It's just that those guys have to create those scoring chances and they've got to make them count.

"That's the responsibility that we have as a team -- to make those kind of things happen," he said.

So, during practice on Monday and morning skate on Tuesday, the Bruins put pucks on net -- lots of them.

"As you saw...we worked on trying to finish around the net, score some goals and a lot of it was trying get them to stop squeezing their sticks," said Julien. "Hopefully [the storyline tonight] is about scoring goals in addittion to the way we've played [defensively].

"I don't want our team to change the way we've played, because we've played well, but what I'd like to see change is for us to create more offensively and make [our chances] count."

1:55 p.m.
Bitz (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The Bruins are back at the hotel enjoying their pregame meal and nap. Three Bruins did not practice -- Shawn Thornton, Byron Bitz and Michael Ryder.

There has been no word that says that Thornton or Ryder will play, but Byron Bitz is a different story.

According to Coach Julien, Bitz is getting better.

"But not good enough to play tonight," said Julien. "No, [he's] not to that point.

"It's still a day to day situation."

It seems like Trent Whitfield will indeed get a chance to suit up again, tonight.

10:17 a.m.

Trent Whitfield may or may not play tonight, based on injury and coach's insight.

But no matter what the result, the veteran forward will prepare the same way.

"It's usually a game time decision," said Whitfield on Monday. "So you're right up until warm-ups...preparing like you're playing. And then you find out you're not.

"So, it's tough, but you know, it's a role, and you have to play it.

"But when you do get the opportunity you have to be ready, so it's not something you take lightly," he said.

Whitfield understands his role and has worked to ensure that he is ready when his number gets called.

"I've been around a long time and I've been doing this [for 12 years], so it's something that I have become accustomed to and I understand what it's all about," he said. "So you just come to the rink and work hard everyday -- both on and off the ice -- to keep myself in shape and strong so when that opportunity comes I'm ready."

But there's nothing like the thrill of being in the lineup.

"For sure," said Whitfield. "Especially when you [first] come to an organization, you're excited and you're nervous.

"It doesn't matter how long you've been in the game, when you come to an organization and you're kind've in and out of the lineup, you're nervous.

"But you still want to go out there and play and prepare like you would in any other hockey game," he said.

The nerves were there when Whitfield suited up in Madison Square Garden versus the Rangers. But sometimes they can give you motivation.

"Like last game in New York, it was the best I've felt," he said. "So hopefully there's more to come."

Playing an Original Six team, like the Rangers or Red Wings, still remains a thrill for even the most professional players. Whitfield is no different.

"I think this [is one of the oldest] buildings left in the NHL and there is obviously a lot of history here," said Whitfield of Joe Louis Arena. "They have a tradition of winning and producing a lot of great hockey players.

"So you look in the rafters and you see all kinds of numbers of guys that you watched growing up and you idolized.

"So, it's fun to come in here and experience 'The Joe,' you know?"

7:54 a.m.

By all accounts, the Boston Bruins had one of their best practices of the season on Monday. And, just by observation, it was pretty clear that the Bruins coaching staff had designed the day so that puck after puck would find its way into the goal.

Despite the best efforts of Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas, the deck was stacked in favor of the shooters and the vulcanized rubber began to pile up behind both goalies.

"You have to find ways to score goals," said B's head coach Claude Julien in explanation of his tactics. "Sometime your [team] is tense. So you have to loosen them up a little bit and create some competition.

"So we tried to make [Monday's practice in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena] fun, yet make it serious.

"They had goals they had to accomplish, and once they accomplished it, they moved on to the next drill," he said.

One of the drills began with David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron choosing up sides for goal scoring competition.

The teams sent one, two or three men against one of the goalies and shot until they scored.

As such, the speed was formidable (Tim Thomas said that he had two words going through his mind, "Need oxygen"). But the laughter and chatter during the day's work was proof enough that the B's coaching staff had accomplished their own goals.

"Unfortunately, right now, [the problems in] our game right now is all related to that," said Julien of the B's lack of offensive production. "We've played well enough to win and there's no reason why we shouldn't be winning more games than we are if we score those goals.

"Somehow you have to find a way to score, and it starts at practice."
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