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Game Day: Canadiens vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

Montreal 0 1 0-1

Boston 0 2 1-3

First Period-None.

Second Period-1, Montreal, A.Kostitsyn 14 (S.Kostitsyn, Markov), 3:24 (pp). 2, Boston, Chara 8 (Kobasew, Ward), 8:23 (pp). 3, Boston, Chara 9 (Wideman, Krejci), 18:24 (pp).

Third Period-4, Boston, Krejci 17 (Ryder, Wheeler), 18:49.

Shots on Goal-Montreal 17-11-7-35. Boston 9-10-10-29.

Goalies-Montreal, Halak. Boston, Thomas. A-17,565 (17,565). T-2:23.

0:00 - A good, hard fought, Boston Bruins win. 3-1.

1:11 - Wheeler to Ryder. Save Halak. Rebound to Krejci. Goal. It's 3-1.

1:35 - Boston clears the zone...

2:16 - A sliding split glove save. Thomas has been huge.

3:52 - Icing Boston.

4:52 - Thomas with a save on Tom Kostopoulos. Huge. Right pad...

6:25 - Thomas blocks the puck into the stands.

7:54 - Timmy makes a desperation play to stop a partial replay and it worked. Phew. He came out and basically blocked one of the Habs bodily...

8:33 - Komisarek tries to goad Savard into something. Nope.

10:50 - Shots are 31-23, MTL.

12:36 - Good work by the Yelle line keeps the puck deep...

13:48 - Lapierre and Wheeler have words. I can't remember Wheels doing any serious jawing before.

Ward will not return.

15:18 - Important kill for the Habs. I don't see Ward on the bench...

17:45 - Ryder draws a tripping call (one of the Kostitisyn's) along the boards in the Canadiens zone. Boston is 2/4 on the PP.

18:44 - Stoppage. Boston has kept the puck in the CHC zone for most of the young period.

20:00 - Start of the Second. How about a quick Bruins goal?
0:00 - Again, it wasn't pretty, but it was a pretty good period for the Bruins and Zdeno Chara in particular. Shots are 28-19, CHC, but only 11-10 for Montreal in the period.

Boston played with a lot of intensity and needs to match that in the third.

Hits were 7-7 in the second.

1:36 - GOAL! Chara. He somehow knuckled it over Halak...on replay, he hit the Montreal D-man's stick, square and that sent the puck tumbling over the goalie. It's 2-1, Boston.

1:54 - Timeout Montreal. Gotta give their penalty killers some rest.

2:59 - Hamrlik clobbers St. Pierre to Halak's left. It will be a two-minute five-on-three for Boston. Boston is 1/2 on the PP.

3:43 - Tim really made some big stops on that kill...

5:30 - Ward went down. Tim Thomas took exception to it and flattened one of the Kostitsyn's. Kostitsyn gets a major for boarding and Thomas got a minor for roughing.

Quite a hit by Timmy, who was simply sticking up for a teammate. If it wasn't Thomas, Chara was right there. Unfortunately, it gives Montreal a two-man advantage.

5:56 - Krejci is in the box (high sticking?).

6:11 - Icing Boston.

7:03 - Icing Montreal. Boston with a nice kill. Shots are 26-13, CHC.

8:11 - Shorthanded, Krecji to Wheeler. Save Halak, but just barely.

9:20 - Ward is going to the box and he was not very happy about it.

9:56 - Icing Montreal.

11:37 - Chara with an unusual backdoor goal. He cheated down and got the results of a Kobasew deflection on his stick. He also had an open net to work with and slam dunked it.

It's 1-1. Shots are 24-11, Montreal.

13:18 - Brisebois is in the box for hooking. Boston is 0/1 on the power play.

13:45 - Thomas stones Plekanec, who looked like he was assured a goal with the goalie going down and most of the net to work with...

14:47 - And the hits just keep on coming. Chara cleared the puck out of the rink. Penalty.

16:36 - That loved to happen. Shot from Thomas' left by one of the Kostitsyns and then the other put in the rebound. Ugh. Is 1-0, Habs.

17:25 - Ryder is in the penalty box for hooking. Montreal gets their first man advantage.

18:27 - An important kill for Montreal.

20:00 - Start of the Second. B's start on the PP.
0:00 - It wasn't a clinic, by any means. But the B's did well to come out and keep the Habs off the board with their new lines.

38.4 - Kovalev caught Kobasew high with his stick. Boston's first PP (they currently rank 3rd in the league).

1:55 - The period has been entertaining, but not so crisp...

4:28 - Kobasew beat a Canadien into the zone to negate an icing, a blind pass somehow finds itself on Chara's stick, slapshot, and Halak had to make a splitting glove save to keep the score, 0-0.

4:49 - A shot from the top of the circle hit Tim in the face (save) and he also stopped the rebound.

5:33 - Chara comes off the blueline and Halak had to make a tough stop through traffic. Shots are 13-7, Montreal.

6:03 - Apparently Komisarek took exception to Krejci putting a backhand on net after a whisle. A pile up in the CHC zone, and nothing more.

8:49 - TV timeout. Shots are 10-5, Habs.

10:15 - Stuart and Chipchura just went a round. Stu, as expected, got the best of it, but certainly got several fistfuls of Kyle's visor.

10:55 - Icing Montreal.

11:21 - Thomas stones Plekanec and the puck is cleared.

13:05 - Stephane Yelle just saved a goal. WIth Thomas down on the right post, Yelle took the left and stuffed a Canadiens forward trying the wraparound.

13:15 - Okay, shots are now 6-2, and Thomas has been tooooo busy. Most of the shots have been from the outside, thankfully, but the quality chances are coming...

14:36 - Nokelainen just slammed D'Agostini. Nice hit.

15:39 - Lots of back and forth...

16:44 - Tim butterflys to make his latest stop.

17:15 - Neither team is bringing any sustained pressure, thus far. Both goalies have stopped two shots.

18:52 - Halaks' first save. Chara crushed Komisarek into the boards.

19:36 - Thomas' first save.

19:51 - Montreal won the draw, but quickly iced the puck.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. The place is pumped...

Montreal Starters: Lang, Gorges, Harmrlik, A. Kostitsyn, S. Kostitsyn, Halak
Boston Starters: Hunwick, Wideman, Wheeler, Krejci, Ryder, Thomas

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

Breaking News...

BOSTON - Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that earlier today Marco Sturm underwent successful surgery to repair his meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee.  The surgery was performed by Dr. Peter Asnis and Dr. Thomas Gill at Mass General Hospital, and will force Sturm to miss the rest of the 2008-2009 NHL season.

Sturm appeared in 19 games this season for Boston and recorded 7-6-13 totals with a +9 plus/minus rating, before sustaining this injury in Boston's 8-5 win over the Maple Leafs on December 18. Sturm led all Boston goal-scorers last year with 27 tallies.

6:46 p.m.
Thomas is 17-4-3 on the year with a 2.08 Goals Against Average and .933 save percentage. He is 8-1-0 in his last nine starts.

6:39 p.m.
Here are the B's lines...
St. Pierre - Savard - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Axelsson - Yelle - Karsums
Thornton - Nokelainen - Bitz
Chara - Ward
Hunwick - Wideman
Stuart - Hnidy

6:29 p.m.
It's Tim Thomas and Jaroslav Halak in goal tonight, folks. Hnidy and Ward on the ice. Lucic is not.

5:25 p.m.
Press Box Notes
Tonight’s game wraps up a six-game homestand for the Bruins. They have posted a
3-2-0 record through the first five, with wins over Pittsburgh, Ottawa, and Carolina and losses to Buffalo and Minnesota. The B’s will play their next two games on the road, at the Islanders on January 15 and at the Capitals on January 17.

Other stories...
  • Bruins forward Phil Kessel was placed on injured reserve yesterday, January 12, due to mononucleosis, meaning he will miss tonight’s game. This snaps a streak of 167 consecutive games he had played in, dating back to January 9, 2007.
  • Defenseman Shane Hnidy is expected to return to the Bruins lineup tonight after missing the last two games due to injury.
  • Montreal has won four straight and is 9-1-1 in their last 11 games. During their four-game win streak, the Canadiens have scored a total of 23 goals, including six against Florida(1/4), six against the New York Rangers(1/7), six against Toronto(1/8), and five against Washington(1/10).
  • Also for Montreal, forward Andrei Kostitsyn has a four-game point streak in progress with 4-4-8 totals and Robert Lang has a four-game point streak in progress with 5-2-7 totals.

4:16 p.m.
Montreal Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)
Montreal head coach Guy Carbonneau spoke to his own injury situation when he met with the media earlier this afternoon. Like Coach Julien, Coach Carbonneau said that it was a good chance for young players to bring their best game to the ice.

"I think everybody started to chip in a little bit more," said Carbonneau. "I think [the rest of the team] played better defensively, and added a little bit more bite on offense.

"But the young kids that came in played extremely well.

"It definitely helps when you...lose good players that someone can pick up the slack," he said.

Carbonneau also said that his farm club in Hamilton has been a big help to the Canadiens a la Providence to Boston.

"Yeah we have the same thing," he said. "Since I’ve been here every training camp we bring the coach from Hamilton, talk to them about what we want to do during the year and you know we talk and try to get the same systems.

"So it definitely helps when they come up."

And getting players back from IR certainly helps, as well.

"When you have good a good team, good players can make your team better," said Carbonneau, who recently got Mike Komisarek back from injury. "Mike is part of our top three, top four [defensemen]. He’s the kind of guy who can play against the best forwards on the other side of the best lines. We missed him but we were able to keep winning and when he came back he made us better."

Carbonneau also thinks that having a "light" at the end of a long 162-game tunnel gives everyone a bit of a hop.

"I think everything’s starting to click a little bit," he said. "I said this a little bit before Christmas: I think after the holidays that they know that this is the last stretch or almost the last stretch so the focus is better.

"Execution is better also."

3:11 p.m.
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)
Coach Julien spoke about his club's ability to roll with injury.

“They are what they are, they are things you can’t control,” said Julien in between updates on Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel et al. “You have to rely on the guys at your disposal to play solid and play well.

“We’ve always used that philosophy and we don’t use excuses, we just go with what we’ve got and deal with it.  That’s not going to change; it was the philosophy we took last year, it’s the same philosophy we’re going to take this year.”

Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask is back in the building as the Bruins backup goalie and Martin St. Pierre could play a significant role if Milan Lucic does not return to the lineup this evening.

“I think it’s exciting for them, if anything and I don’t think you have to convince them to be ready for the game,” said the coach. “So far, they’ve done a great job, they’ve contributed, they are guys that have been able to make a difference in the game and that’s all you can ask from them.”

The ease with which the Bruins have rotated players in and out of the lineup from the AHL was addressed and Julien gave his standard answer – the teams have similar philosophies and styles and systems.

“I don’t think there is a ton of it to hammer home,” he said.  “They play pretty well the same type of game that we play up here.  So when the guys come up from Providence they usually have a pretty good feel and that’s why it’s been an easy fit for them; their game doesn’t have to change that much.

“It’s not like they play a certain way down there, and we play a certain way up here and all of a sudden they have to adapt.  It’s been a good transition for them as far as having both coaches, whether it was last year with Flash [Scott Gordon], and this year with Rob [Murray] being on the same page with us.”

2:41 p.m. has the Habs lines from practice...

Pacioretty - Plekanec - Kovalev
A. Kostitsyn - Lang - S. Kostitsyn
Begin - Koivu - Chipchura
Latendresse - Lapierre - D'Agostini
Markov - Komisarek
Hamrlik - Gorges
Bouillon - Brisebois

Missing: Price (ankle), Kostopoulos (ankle) also writes that Halak will start (and his coming off the ice supports this) and that Kostopoulos will play.

12:52 p.m.
Just to elaborate on some of things I mentioned, earlier. JB

Julien on Kessel...
"I think with mono it's one of those situations where it's pretty clear that there is no way he could play. We have to wait for the doctors to clear him...nobody has any idea [when that will be]. They'll check him out periodically and see how he is doing. It could vary and it could go either way, so nobody can say at this moment."

Julien on Lucic as a possibility to play tonight...
"Those decisions will be made today...his availability tonight, as well as [the availability] of others."

12:44 p.m.
Boston Bruins right wing Michael Ryder (73). (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)
Michael Ryder was a popular guy in the locker room. For obvious reasons, Ryder was asked to weigh in on his recent success, after what some considered a slow start.

"I just wanted to keep shooting," said the winger. "I knew the chances were there and if I wasn't getting the chances it would be a little tougher.

"Now it seems to be going in for me and, I don't know, maybe it was just confidence earlier in the season or something. I just wanted to keep working hard and, eventually, I knew that they would be going in. Lately, they've been doing that."

Some of that has to do with some very talented linemates like Blake Wheeler and David Krejci.

"With Wheels and Krejci, we have really good chemistry, and we know where each other is going to be on the ice," said Ryder. "So we've been having a lot of success, and we just keep working at it everyday.

"And those guys, they're so young, and I'm the oldest guy on the line so it's a little different. Just getting to play with those two is a lot of fun."

For a guy who had found himself out of sorts in his final days in Montreal, Ryder finds satisfaction in knowing where he stands in Boston. With seven game-winning goals thus far this season, Ryder is the league leader in putting the game away.

"It feels good," said Michael. "It helps your confidence and it helps your whole game when you know you are going to be on the ice at certain times. It's just the whole feeling of knowing you are going to be one of the guys who is going to be out there to try and help the team to win."

As he often has during his stay in Black & Gold, Ryder gave credit to Claude Julien for knowing what buttons to push.

"He knows how to use me a certain times and he knows how to get me going when he knows I am not feeling the greatest for certain games," explained Ryder. "But he definitely knows what I can do when I am on the ice and I think it helps a lot.

"He tries to keep me up...he tells me to keep plugging and just made sure I wasn't getting down because I wasn't scoring [at the beginning of the season]. So it helped me that way."

11:42 a.m.
Okay. Here's what I've seen and heard...
  • Coach Julien said that a decision on Milan Lucic will be made later today. Milan skated, and looked good, while on the ice with the rest of the roster.
  • It seems clear, depending on the above, there might be some lineup changes.
  • Boston's Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice and seems a lock to be tonight's starter.
  • There is no timetable for Phil Kessel's return.
More after the Habs skate.

10:29 a.m.
Milan Lucic has joined the "healthy" skaters.

10:25 a.m.
Patrice Bergeron, Manny Fernandez, Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic all skated this morning and looked fluid.

More on that in a bit...

9:00 a.m.

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas celebrates after the Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout during an NHL hockey game in Montreal on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
"They've definitely been playing better, as a team," said Claude Julien, after yesterday's practice, of tonight's opponents -- the Montreal Canadiens. "They seem to be a lot more confident and, despite their injuries, they've got some guys that've picked up their game and they are scoring timely goals."

Hmmm. Sounds familiar.

The Bruins have been playing better, with more confidence, and have been able to stem the mounting tide of injuries by having players like Byron Bitz and Martins Karsums get called up and play strong games.

"It was good," said Julien of Byron Bitz's NHL debut. "[He was] a big presence, skated well and protected the puck well.

"He was good at getting the puck out of our own end.

"So he has a lot of good things going for him," he said.

And Karsums?

"He's a guy who can score some goals," said Julien. "He played on the top line in Providence and is, obviously, a pretty good hockey player. I thought he handled himself well and the first time we called him up he had some real good scoring chances. And he was able to get an assist against Carolina.

"So, he's a guy, the more you see him, the more comfortable he is going to be and the more you are really going to see his true colors."

While Coach Julien has not, as of yet, talked about Phil Kessel's trip to IR thanks to a bout with mono, the Bruins boss did speak about his other injured players.

"Nothing new I guess," he said. "[Ference, Lucic and Bergeron] all skated this morning, earlier on.

"Again, they’re all day to day situations where we can’t really put a time on any of those guys and some could be back much sooner than others we’ve just got to keep going with it. That’s all we can do at this moment."

Bergeron's return to the ice is encouraging.

"This was Bergy’s...second day skating," said Julien. "He skated yesterday and skated again today and so he’s been on the ice a few times.

"It’s nice to see him back on the ice. I think it’s encouraging for him too. To be back on the ice...that means he’s just a step closer to his goal and for his teammates to see him progressing that way, that’s great.

"It’s great for the team and it’s great for him."

Julien said that Fernandez did not skate, but indicated that the goalie's injury is nothing to worry about.

"It’s a day to day," said the Bruins head coach. "And like I said guys, it’s a minor issue that we thought would be resolved by today."

Aaron Ward was on the ice, but left early.

"He’ll be in the lineup tomorrow," said Julien. "Sometimes it’s just practicing, and a guy knows he can get off and he can be okay for the next day. So you take him off the ice.

"It’s just little things at this time of year, little injuries that instead of aggravating them, you get off and make sure you’re healthy for the next day."

Lots of talk remained centered on and around David Krejci and his line. Julien said that other teams have already begun to line match against the talented trio of Krejci, Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.

"They do [try to match up against them] because of their production [and because] of what they’ve done," said Julien. "We’ve already seen that happening.

"And as long as you have the home ice advantage sometimes you can try and control that a little bit as best as you can. But now-a-days just like us, I mean, if we don’t have the right matchup on the road, we make a quick change with our back end and we’ve got that matchup that you want.

"Part of it is having to play through it -- we can try to do as best as we can as coaches to try and keep them away from that, but sometimes it affects your momentum for your team because you’re constantly changing lines.

"[That makes it] hard for the guys to get into the game as well. So you’ve got to try and kind of balance that out, we’re doing our best, limiting that, and the other part is them battling through it," he said.

Angela Latona contributed to today's Bear Essentials
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