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Game Day: Flyers vs. Bruins

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.
Philadelphia 0 1 3-4

Boston 1 0 1-2

First Period-1, Boston, Bergeron 7 (Chara, Savard), 14:25 (pp).

Second Period-2, Philadelphia, Upshall 7, 1:49.

Third Period-3, Philadelphia, S.Gagne 25 (Alberts, Knuble), 2:22. 4, Philadelphia, Knuble 22 (Richards, S.Gagne), 5:43. 5, Philadelphia, S.Gagne 26 (Knuble, Richards), 16:26 (pp). 6, Boston, Yelle 7 (Stuart, Bitz), 19:18 (pp).

Shots on Goal-Philadelphia 10-7-9-26. Boston 12-5-7-24.

Goalies-Philadelphia, Niittymaki. Boston, Fernandez. A-17,020 (17,565). T-2:24.
Third Period Recap: There’s a reason the Flyers are 9-1-5 when tied after the second period. And they demonstrated that reason tonight, on three separate occasions.

The first Flyer goal was a team effort by two former Bruins –– forwards Mike Knuble and Andrew Alberts –– who put a shot on net that forward Simon Gagne then tipped past goaltender Manny Fernandez. 

Only a three minutes later, Knuble was at it again, connecting on a centering pass from Gagne, who was parked behind the Boston net.

With just over three minutes left, the Knuble-Richards-Gagne line struck again on a power play opportunity, giving Gagne his second goal on the night and sufficiently padding the lead for the guys from Philadelphia.

The game ended 4-2, with a last-ditch attempt by Yelle, who tipped in a Mark Stuart shot over Niittymaki.

0:00 - Philadelphia wins, 4-2.

41.7 - Waaaaaaaaaaaaait a minute. Stuart shoots and Yelle scores to make it 4-2.

3:34 - Another Philadelphia goal. Gagne. Not good. See you in the locker room.

4:28 - Kobasew is in the box. Holding the stick.

4:48 - Some pushing and shoving around the PHI goal. Nothing more comes of it. Shots are 24-23, Philly.

6:51 - Another save by Niittymaki.

8:27 - Puck out of the rink...

13:27 - Hartnell is in the box for the Flyers. Roughing.

14:17 - Uh oh. The ice is tilting toward Philly. This time it's Knuble who puts it away. The score is 3-1, Philadelphia.

16:24 - Kessel's turn to lead a rush down the left side. He fires a puck into the padding of Niittymaki.

17:38 - A shot by old friend Andrew Alberts, tipped by Gagne, eludes Manny. It's 2-1, Philly.

19:08 - Icing Philly.

20:00 - Start of the Third.
Second Period Recap: If the first period was any indication of how rough-and-tumble this game would be, the second period left no doubt. Just ask forward Byron Bitz, who had his face smashed into the Flyers crossbar as he rushed the net with linemate Stephane Yelle.

Then again, no Flyers faces were spared, either.

It only took one blow to the head from B’s defenseman Zdeno Chara to put Scott Hartnell flat on his back. The Bruins captain was slashed at by the Flyers forward, who received a two-minute penalty for the transgression.

The lone goal of the 20-minute skate came just a few minutes in as Flyers forward Scottie Upshall picked off a cross-ice pass in the Bruins zone to put his team on the scoreboard and even things up a bit.

The Bitz-Yelle line combined for one other strong attempt on Niitymaki, who flung himself backwards on the puck as it rebounded off of the post. The B's were halfway celebrating before the official could rule it no goal.
0:00 - A nondescript period for the B's. Shots are 17-17.

2:36 - A near miss for Bitz, who hit the post behind Niittymaki.

4:26 - Fernandez with a save on Carter.

5:13 - We've seen that before. Hartnell boarded Ryder and he got two minutes for his troubles. The B's are 1/2 on the PP.

6:51 - Fernandez with two more stops...

8:42 - Hunwick in the box for high sticking. Philly is 0/3 on the PP this evening.

9:21 - Manny with a couple of saves. The shots are 15-14, Boston.

10:22 - Lots of extra stuff going on -- it's getting ugly out there.

13:03 - Uh oh. The "monster is out of the cage." Big Zee had some words for Hartnell and put the Flyer forward on his stomach with two quick shots. Four or five Flyers pushed and shoved with the big man, but nobody really wanted to go. Chara got the extra two minutes (off a double minor for roughing). Hartnell got a minor for slashing. Philly is 0/2 on the PP.

13:58 - Another big save by Nittymaki -- this time on Blake Wheeler.

15:18 - Icing Philadelphia.

16:19 - A puck ping ponged into the pads of Niittymaki and needed to be controlled by a defenseman, but not before Yelle and Bitz crashed the net.

18:11 - An errant pass ended up on the stick of Upshall, who put it by Fernandez. Unassisted. Yuck. The score is tied, 1-1.

19:52 - Philly controls and dumps deep.

20:00 - Start of the Second. More please!
First Period Recap: Looking more like a game of Chexx bubble hockey than an NHL matchup between the East’s first and fourth, the Boston Bruins found a way to one-up the Philadelphia Flyers in a (relatively) whistle-less first stanza.

Despite crisp passing and equal back-and-forth action, nothing about the first 20 minutes of play would be described as friendly, with the Eastern rivals combining for a total of five penalties.

One such power play led to Bruins centerman Patrice Bergeron smoking one past Flyers goaltender Antero Niitymaki 14:25 into play. The special teams goal was the result of a too-many-men call a minute prior.

The Flyers managed 10 shots on net during this time, with Boston coming up with a dozen shots on. Both clubs matched each other in many respects, including through a couple of outstanding plays by a few notable men.

B’s defenseman Andrew Ference made a handful of key blue-line saves to keep the flow during one Boston power play, setting his linemates up for a few sweetheart shots.

Conversely, the Flyers netminder held his own against the Black & Gold’s advances by snagging a couple of pucks out of midair to keep the game scoreless for most of the period. Bruins forward David Krejci connected on one shot that flew right over the downed goaltender, who gloved it down faster than the crowd could react.

Overall, a lot of bad blood came out early on, but not at the expense of the smooth style of play that has dominated a third of this hockey game.

0:00 - The B's ended the period with a flair and had two decent scoring chances in the last five seconds of the frame. Boston leads, 1-0. Shots are 12-10, Boston.

38.0 - Wideman ended that kill with a sprint out of the box and a shot on goal. But with under a minute to go, Boston is called for icing.

3:40 - Wideman is in the box for high sticking.

5:35 - Bergeron blasted that one by Nittymaki who I am sure did not even see the shot (and it may have even gone through the Philly goalie). Boston leads, 1-0. Give the assists to Chara and Savard.

6:34 - Icing Boston (on the PP). Ouch.

7:26 - Upshall is in the box for Philly (too many men), who are 0/1 on the PP.

8:06 - Now it's Krejci who needs the antivenom. He was just robbed by Niittymaki.

8:37 - The hitting is on an uptick, but Niittymaki stops the game whith a glove save...

13:43 - Michael Ryder pulled (tripped) down a Flyer. As he made his way to the box, David Krejci exchanged pleasantries with several Flyers. This is Philly's first chance on the PP.

15:53 - Chara puts Richards on his behind (with one arm), and ends a shorthanded bid by the Flyers.

17:12 - Lupul to the box -- hooking. The Bruins are on their first power play of the evening.

18:32 - Hunwick skated down the left side on a breakaway and put a solid shot into the Philly netminder.

19:04 - Fernandez's first save.

19:20 - Some early pushing and shoving between Hartnell and Thornton (and Wideman).

20:00 - Start of the First Period. How about a couple of goals early?

Philadelphia Starters:
Coburn, Lupul, Carter, Hartnell, Carle, Niittymaki
Boston Starters: Ference, Wideman, Thornton, Yelle, Bitz, Fernandez

Switching to time on the clock...

6:57 p.m.
Goaltender Manny Fernandez will start between the pipes for the Bruins today. In 22 games this year, he has registered a 14-4-3 record. Fernandez owns a 2.24 Goals Against Average (5th overall in NHL), and .921 Save Percentage (8th overall).

6:38 p.m.
Here are what the lines looked like in warmups:

Scratch: Karsums, Lucic, Nokelainen

6:29 p.m.
It's Niittymaki vs. Fernandez in goal.

6:03 p.m.
Press Box Notes...
Today is game four of a six game homestand for the Bruins. Through the first two games, the Bruins are 2-0-1 and have outscored the opposition 15-5. The homestand continues when the Bruins face the Coyotes on 3/5 and Blackhawks on 3/7.

Trade Deadline
Wednesday, March 4 at 3:00 p.m. ET is the NHL’s trade deadline. The following is the Bruins schedule and media availability for Wednesday:
  • Practice: 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (Ristuccia Arena, Wilmington, MA)
  • Bruins players media availability: approx. 12:20 p.m. (Ristuccia Arena)
  • Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien media availability: approx. 12:50 p.m. (Ristuccia Arena)
  • Press conference with Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli: 4:30 p.m. (Legends, TD Banknorth Garden). Be advised that the press conference will happen regardless of whether or not the team makes a trade.
  • Members of the media should be advised that the Will McDonough Press Room at TD Banknorth Garden will be open from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. with wireless internet and workstations available for their use.
Other Stories...
  • Bruins forward Milan Lucic is expected to miss his second consecutive game with an upper body injury.
  • Looking at the special teams numbers, the Bruins and Flyers rank in the top 10 on both the power play and penalty kill. Boston has the fourth overall power play (22.9%) while Philadelphia has the fifth (22.0%). The two teams are tied for seventh in the league on the PK at 83.1%.
  • Earlier today, the Flyers announced that forward Claude Giroux has been recalled from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms. He will be available to play in tonight’s game. Giroux, 21, has four goals and seven assists for 11 points and 12 penalty minutes in 21 games with the Flyers this season. In addition, defenseman Nate Guenin and forward Jared Ross have been reassigned to the Phantoms.
  • The Flyers lead the NHL in shorthanded goals for (16) and shorthanded goals against (0). They are the only team in the league not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season. Mike Richards leads the league in shorthanded tallies with seven, while teammates Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter are tied for second with four apiece.

5:28 p.m.
By the way...
The Boston Bruins announced their schedule and media availability for the NHL Trade Deadline Day. The NHL Trade Deadline is Wednesday, March 4 at 3:00 p.m. ET.

The team will practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, MA from 11:30 - 12:15 p.m., with Bruins players available at approximately 12:20 p.m. and Head Coach Claude Julien available at approximately 12:50 p.m.

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli will hold a press conference in Legends at TD Banknorth Garden at 4:30 p.m. ET (Legends is located on level three at TD Banknorth Garden on the West End of the building). The press conference will be held as scheduled regardless of whether or not the team makes a trade.

Following the press conference, Chiarelli will participate in a 30-minute "Rinkside Chat," presented by Covidien, with Bruins fans online at from 5:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET.

The Will McDonough Press Room at TD Banknorth Garden will be open to working media beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. Light snacks and refreshments will be served from 2:00 p.m. through 6:00 p.m.

Fans will be able to follow all of the day's action on, NESN and the NHL's three media platforms. will provide behind-the-scenes access in to the Bruins War Room, with minute-by-minute updates and exclusive interviews throughout the day from Bruins Hockey Operations personnel including Chiarelli, Assistant General Manager Jim Benning, Vice President Cam Neely, and Director of Hockey Operations Don Sweeney.

NESN will broadcast a live NHL Trade Deadline Special from their fifth floor Garden Studio from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m, with analysts Andy Brickley, Naoko Funayama, Mike Milbury, and Kathryn Tappen breaking down all of the trades from around the league. The show will re-air at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

The NHL Network, and NHL Radio will dedicate six hours of programming to Trade Deadline Day. The NHL Network will be having a free preview on March 4, making their three-hour NHL Trade Deadline Special show available in more than 34 million homes. The NHL Network's Trade Deadline Special will provide interviews from General Managers from around the league, as well a glimpse into the NHL's Central Registry trade office, enabling viewers to watch as transactions become finalized through trade calls among the participating General Managers and league officials. The NHL Network's Trade Deadline Special will air from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ET.

4:39 p.m
Aaron Ward was acquired at the trade deadline in '07.
This morning Coach Julien addressed -- again -- some of the anxieties (or lack thereof) that his players might be feeling with the approach of the Trade Deadline, which is tomorrow at 3 p.m.

“They’re willing to joke about [the Trade Deadline] enough so it’s a good sign,” he said, joking that the guys had wondered if their head coach had been traded when Julien was late to the pre-game skate this morning. “I think our guys have responded well to everything; they hear the same rumors as everybody else and they go about their jobs and I think that’s a good way to approach it.”

All kidding aside, however, the seasoned coach knows that if anyone in the current lineup is traded, it can be hard on the bonds that have already been formed between the teammates.

“If you end up moving from one team to another, you’ll always miss your teammates, but you eventually adjust to the other team.”

But while the guys on the bench might be able to joke about the potential trades, and adjust to their new surroundings, the families behind the big men probably feel a bit more anxious about the possibility of relocation.

“The biggest thing is that you keep moving families around,” Julien said. “There are a lot of things that are attached to a trade that makes it tough, and obviously not fun to do.

“Players are like that, they get comfortable and they get settled in. Nobody wants to leave. I think right now we’ve got something good going, everybody in the dressing room wants to be a part of it.”

3:55 p.m.
Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick (48) battles Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby for a loose puck during the first period of a hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
A few weeks ago, Coach Julien said that his men needed to go harder into the boards and play that down-and-dirty style of hockey to assert their dominance over opponents. Matt Hunwick seems to be filling that role out quite nicely.

“First of all, his speed is certainly an asset out there,” he said this morning about Hunwick’s performance last Saturday against the Washington Capitals. “But also, he’s a guy that will go in the corners and along the boards and grind it out. He’ll go to the front of the net like he did when he scored that goal. He’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas.”

Hunwick, who was moved up from defenseman to wingman, slid effortlessly into the forward role and used his perseverance to leave lasting memories in Julien’s mind.

“I just felt that his skill level and his speed and everything else just fit in with that line,” Julien said, adding that Hunwick will most likely play wing again tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Some players are comfortable up there and I think what I like about him is he made some good solid passes coming out of our zone last game as well. Not just good defensively, but even the breakouts from the wing,” Julien noted.

Surely, the versatility of a player, especially one who gets in the corners and fights the little battles, makes coach’s job a lot easier.

“I think it’s important for a hockey club to have a player like that. Whenever you have that, that’s certainly a luxury,” Julien said.

But even if the young forward/defenseman can play both styles of game, Julien is not going to let him give up his defensive career too quickly.

“Even if he is very versatile, he’s a young player who I’m more convinced than not that he’s going to be a real solid defenseman down the road.”

2:59 p.m.

Just got word of a last minute ticket offer for tonight's game. $99 for lower level seats. Click here for tickets.

1:10 p.m.
Best line of the morning:
"I came onto the ice a little late and the players thought I got traded." Claude Julien

1:06 p.m.
Click on Coach Julien's picture to see today's media scrum.
Head Coach Claude Julien was adamant about forgetting the final goal from Saturday and making sure that the B's were in the right state of mind for tonight.

"You have to turn the page and really look forward to the next one," said Julien. "For us, it’s important to win some hockey games, to play well, and I think that’s what we’re focused on. 

"Again, that game was quite a few days away [ago], we’ve turned the page again and focused on tonight."

Boston, 3-4-3 in their last 10, need to become more consistent.

"It’s been better," said Julien of the B's play.  "We’ve done a lot of good things and we’re certainly heading in the right direction.

"But, again, you want to fine tune yourself, so that you become the toughest team to play against by the time the playoffs come around.

"So, we’ve got to keep pushing ourselves to get better and hopefully we’ll take another step in the right direction tonight."

12:52 p.m.

What we know...
  • Manny Fernandez was the first goalie off the ice, which should indicate that he is going to be the B's starter this evening.
  • Forward Milan Lucic will not play.
  • Defenseman Matt Hunwick is slotted to return to the first line as a forward.
More to come...

9:01 a.m.
One Day Left...

Peter Chiarelli
In case you haven't figured it out, the Trade Deadline is tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.

And judging by the room and the reaction of Coach Julien, the end can't come soon enough.

On Monday, Julien was asked if he had given any of the players any advice on dealing with the deadline.

"To be honest with you, I can’t really tell you because I haven’t really discussed any of that stuff with our team," said Julien. "[We are] just going about business and [the deadline] is just something that’s the reality of the game and players have with this time of year.

"And it’s not just us, it’s every team. Basically it’s up to them to kind of deal with that right now and hopefully by Wednesday all that stuff is over and we move forward."

Julien said he has seen trades that worked out and trades that didn't.

"We’ve seen both sides of that and that’s why...right now everybody’s being careful about the types of moves that they make and the consequences behind it," said Julien. "Sometimes it’s a short term [move] and in the long term it really kind of hurts you, but sometimes the short term means that you may not get this chance again, it might be worth going for it.

"There are all kinds of reasons to make trades and I think every team has their own [ideas], so I guess [they follow] their own philosophy when it comes to that."

And sometimes it's not the biggest name that gives the team the biggest boost.

"Sometimes it's not always the biggest trades that [make the difference]," said Julien. "One of the big pickups for us that helped us down the road was Jimmy Dowd, coming from Minnesota, and he just filled a really good role there on one of our lines for penalty killing faceoffs.

"He was a right hand draw man and so he became pretty valuable to our team in that stretch run. Joey Juneau had some back issues so he was able to step in and really didn’t take anything away from our team."

Julien speculated as to the high number of Bruins based rumors out there in cyberspace.

"I think the fact that we’re where we are right now, in first place, certainly gives a little bit more of a our team and to the environment," he said. "It doesn’t mean that you need to force your hand and make a move that I think is going to hurt you more than it’s going to help you.

"We can all stand here, we can all speculate, trust me, it’s a lot easier to speculate than it is to make those kinds of deals.

"There’s so much that goes in to the equation here whether it’s the cap, whether it’s the contract of the player, the length of [the deal], and everything else," said Julien.

And maybe sometimes the best deal is the one you don't do -- like the Bruins did last year.

"At this time of year [teams] get really greedy with the players they are going to let go and so you have to balance all these things out and decide whether it’s the right thing or do or not," he said.
Angela Latona contributed to today's Bear Essentials. JB
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