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Game Day: Ducks vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
6:39 p.m.

Let's live blog. Head over there and let's talk about the B's.

6:38 p.m.
The B's lines...


6:28 p.m.
It's Thomas vs. Hiller in goal.

6:04 p.m.
Pressbox Notes
Storylines: Boston continues their five-game homestand tonight when they host the Anaheim Ducks in the first of two meetings on the year between the two clubs. Earlier today, Head Coach Claude Julien, commented on the similar style of hockey the two squads play.

“They are an in-your-face kind of hockey club,” said Julien. “They have good size, they are a physical team, so there is a lot of resemblance right there. They are a character team too, that much I know. Over the years with Randy’s teams, no matter who, he has made those guys go at it hard and play hard every night.

The Bruins had seven different goal-scorers in their last game, a 7-2 defeat of the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. The win leveled the Bruins record at 1-1. Anaheim meanwhile is 0-1-1 on the year and is in the midst of a four-game road trip. Despite jumping out to a 3-0 lead, the Ducks lost in overtime to the Wild in their last outing on Tuesday, 4-3. Including tonight, the Ducks will play three road games in four nights with contests in Boston, Philadelphia (10/10) and New York Rangers (10/11).

“They have a bit of a challenge there, a couple of losses right off the bat so we anticipate them to come out really hard tonight,” said Julien.

Home sweet home: The Bruins open the 2009-10 season with a five game homestand. This is the longest homestand to begin a season in club history. During the 1927-28 season, the Black & Gold played four straight at home to start the year. They also had two three-game homestands to begin a season in 2001-02 and 1992-93.

Lucic locked up until 2013: The Bruins announced Tuesday that they signed forward Milan Lucic to a three-year extension through the 2012-13 NHL season.

“Milan has been a very good performer for us,” said Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli during the team’s press conference on Wednesday. “His skill set and his character set and his physicality are all tremendous assets to our organization and typify what it is to be a Bruin.”

“At our year-end meeting I expressed to him [Chiarelli] I wanted to be a Bruin as long as I can,” said Lucic. “I really do enjoy it here.  It is an honor to play for an organization like this that has so much history and going in the direction that we are going.”

Two straight: Steve Begin enters tonight’s game with a two game assist/point streak in progress while Patrice Bergeron has a two game point streak. For Anaheim, Ryan Getzlaf has a two game assist/point streak in progress while Ryan Whitney has a two game point streak.

300: Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf will be playing in his 300th NHL game tonight.

3:21 p.m.
Tim Thomas talked about his feelings going into tonight's game with Anaheim after the clubs optional skate this morning.

"I felt we had a good week of practice," said Thomas. "But it doesn’t really matter how you feel, it’s how you play in the game."

Like many goaltenders, Thomas explained the feeling going into a game didn't necessarily coincide with the actual contest.

"Actually if you want to hold them up against each other, I felt better going into Thursday’s game than I did Saturday’s," he said. "So it doesn’t really matter, that’s just the way hockey works.

"You can ask any player, sometimes you can have a great game when you’ve felt terrible in practice, and sometimes you can have a great game when you’ve felt great in practice or it goes the other way also."

Thomas tried to explain how he stayed mentally prepared through the periods of time when the Hurricanes had trouble generating offense.

"I don’t know, maybe as a team we were mentally prepared," he said. "I was mentally prepared. It didn’t really matter the amount of shots.

"I felt like I was in the game the whole time. There was never a long protracted period where I was like woah, 'I have to get myself back in the game.'

"So even though they didn’t have that many shots total, they were spaced close enough together I never felt that I was getting out of the game," said Thomas.

The Bruins looked very relaxed during practice this week, and I asked Tim where that came from.

"Well, some of that is coming off of a good win on Saturday night and then some of it is because we have worked hard this week in practice," he said. "I think everybody in the locker room [has worked hard] so it’s been a good week in practice.

"When you start getting good habits like that and you have success like we did on Saturday, everybody’s happier. If we would have lost Saturday night, even if we had a good week at practice, there probably wouldn’t have been as many smiles yesterday."

And there have been plenty of smiles to go around thanks to the resigning of the very popular (in the room and in the stands) Milan Lucic

In regards to the signing of Lucic, Tim was also asked about having been signed to an extension last season and whether he felt as if it were comforting that the Bruins had endeavored to keep the core of the team together.

"Yeah, well a guy like Luch specifically, he’s a great guy to have in the locker room," said Tim. "He’s a great teammate so you see him locked up and it does make you feel good about the direction the team is headed.

"Mine was a totally different circumstance because it was right at the end of the year sort of, very close to the end of the year.

"I was getting that big contract at 34, Luch is it’s a pretty different circumstance."

But there are parallels, and the pressure that comes from a big contract is one of the things that Lucic and Thomas now have in common.

"I know the tendency, at least from my perspective, when you get a to prove, try to prove their faith in you correct," he said. "I imagine that’s probably what’s going through Luch’s head too, but you can’t go outside of your game, you just have to do what gave you the contract in the first place.

"You don’t need to say, 'Oh now I’ve got this big contract coming up, I need to be an even better player.' It’s great if you are, but you can’t approach it that way. You just have to do those things that gave you success in the first place."

Thomas, for (another) one, is fine with the big forward coming back next season.

"Well, you guys see it on a night-to-night basis," said Tim. "There’s not too many comparable players throughout the league as far as [those who] can play with that type of physicality, can score the big goals at the big times, make big hits, [and be] just a very well rounded player."

12:43 p.m.
There are many parallels between the Boston Bruins and the Anaheim Ducks.

"Yeah, I think so," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "They are an in-your-face kind of hockey club. They have good size they are a physical team, so there is a lot of resemblance right there.

"They are a character team too, that much I know. Over the years with Randy’s [Carlyle, Head Coach] teams no matter who he has made those guys go at it hard, and play hard every night.

"They have [had] a bit of a challenge there, a couple losses right off the bat, so we anticipate them to come out really hard tonight," he said.

Consistently one of the Ducks best players, defenseman Scott Niedermayer will be on task again this evening.

"He’s one of those guys that I think never gets tired out there," he said. "He is such a smooth skater that it is so easy for him to jump into the attack and create out-numbered situations.

"Defensively he's very reliable, and he plays in all situations. There is no doubt that he is a quarterback and a go to guy."

As he mentioned earlier this week, Julien expects Coach Carlyle to match lines.

"When you have teams that utilize more lines than others, you have to be ready for that," he said. "At the same time, Randy [Carlyle] is also a guy who likes to match lines.

"You will see this a lot more if we use our fourth line a little more, and you will probably see their line a little more.

"I don’t know if we will have to worry as much about that...nonetheless, if that is the case, then we have guys that we feel are very responsible. Every line has to do their job and that includes our back end."

Patrice Bergeron has remained a big topic of conversation since the beginning of training camp. His improved play has given the Bruins renewed confidence up the middle and on the power play.

"You have to take into consideration that he is a better player now than he was at this time last year," said JUlien. "He is working down low and he is strong on the puck.

"He can make plays and he also has a pretty good quick release, good wrister from the half wall, which you may see him use at times, a little more creative which is all due to confidence.

"I also think that it has been a good fit with David [Krejci], which who is also the same way. Obviously Rex [Mark Recchi] is one of those guys that with anything at net he is going to create something out of nothing a lot of times. We felt that was a good threesome to put together and so far so good."

10:49 a.m.
Anaheim Duck (by way of Princeton University), George Parros is on the visiting bench speaking to his friend Shawn Thornton.

10:41 a.m.
It's an optional skate. Thomas, Rask, Morris, Boychuk, Hunwick, Ference and Stuart are in black jerseys. The forwards are Thornton, Bitz, Wheeler, Lucic and Begin.

9:34 a.m.

It says here in The Globe that the Anaheim Ducks are 0-2 as they walk in the door down here at ice level in the TD Garden.

ANd ESPNBoston's Matt Kalman pointed out in that in their last effort the Ducks had a 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 to Minnesota in OT. He correctly surmises that they might be a "ticked Off" group of frozen water fowl.

My good friend Kalman also noted that he was yesterday having "flashback to last year's playoffs and the 10-day break between the series." I am too, and I will be interested to see if the day's between games have helped (in terms of practices) or hurt (in terms of rustiness) when the B's hit the ice this evening.

After practice on Wednesday, thinking on that point, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien said to the media, "Well, we are 1-1 right now, so there is no reason for us to get a little over confident we liked the way we played last game.

"I Think it's important that we go in with the same type of focus, because the team we are 0-2 and they are always a character team. They have a great coaching staff and they'll put their heads down and bounce back.

"I expect them to come out hard and wanting to redeem themselves."

I've seen Marc Savard and Steve Begin in the parking lot, and David Krejci working on his sticks, but not hide nor hair of any of the other Bruins. I do see the Anaheim equipment manager working on his teams stuff, though, so I would guess that they will be taking their skate at 11:30.

And I don't know about you, but I am really excited for this evening's sports double header against the teams from Disneyland. As one of the Garden personnel just pointed out, tonight's Bruins tilt should be ending just about the time the first pitch of the Boston Red Sox vs. Anaheim Angels baseball game begins out west.
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