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Game Day: Islanders vs. Bruins

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
6:40 p.m.

I am heading over to the live blog. Click here to join the discussion.

6:39 p.m.
The B's lines...


6:31 p.m.
Tuukka Rask will be in goal for Boston. Dwayne Roloson will be between the pipes for the NYI.

5:49 p.m.
They just played Bill Haley and his Comets singing "Shake, Rattle & Roll."

That was the Springfield Indians (then the farm club for the Islanders) goal song in the Springfield Civic Center back in the day -- great memories.

Best in game commercial I ever heard was for Jim Dandy Chicken:

Announcer: "Okay everyone. Jim Dandy says, 'When the Indians get brave you get chicken...'"

Crowd: "...and a roll."

Announcer: "That's right. If the Indians beat the Cornwall Aces, save your tickets stub, because if you present it at your local Jim Dandy's, you'll get the hockey meal deal, including two pieces of chicken..."

Crowd: "...and a roll."

Announcer: "All for a special low price."

Pretty good marketing if I remember it twenty years later, huh?

Those were good times and it was a good way to learn to love the game.

Speaking of Springfield, I wonder how the Big E was this year? Don't get jealous, but I saw Rick Springfield there -- in Springfield -- a few years back!

And if you live in Western Mass and happen to run into Garry Brown of the The Republican and Mass Live, thank him for me. When I was just finishing grad school, I conversed with him over e-mail and he was very encouraging to a young writer who was seeking advice.

Keep hitting to all fields, Garry!

4:18 p.m.
I don't want to forget...
This morning, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, head coach Claude Julien and the Bruins coaching staff shared their expertise with amateur coaches from throughout New England at the first annual “Bruins Coaching Symposium.”

They addressed a number of topics including the development of team strategy, offensive zone tactics, defensive zone tactics, special teams, game-day preparation and strength and conditioning.

Today is also "Hockey Fights Cancer Night."

This morning, the families of 20 children currently being treated for pediatric cancer throughout Boston participated in a “Flashes of Hope” photo shoot at the TD Garden.

“Flashes of Hope” is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses.

The portraits were taken by award-winning photographers in an effort to help the children feel better about their changing appearance by celebrating it. After their photos are taken, the children and their families were treated to a tour of The Sports Museum at the TD Garden.

This evening, the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative will be in full swing in an effort to raise money and awareness for national and local organizations involved in cancer care and research.

The Bruins have invited local pediatric patients to enjoy the game and participate in various in-game experiences including Zamboni rides, bench assistants and Zebra Cares.

Following the game, families will have the opportunity meet, get autographs and take photos with a number of current Bruins players.

In addition to the on-ice and behind the scenes activities, members of the Bruins organization will show their support by wearing lavender.

Lavender, which represents awareness for all cancers, is the designated color for this year’s initiative. Boston Bruins coaches, broadcasters and team personnel will wear a commemorative Hockey Fights Cancer tie at games in October. The lavender tie features an embroidered Hockey Fights Cancer logo.

4:06 p.m.
When in doubt and when I am lacking inspiration (and like today, when the hours before the game seem interminable) I leaf through my copy of Ken Dryden's The Game.

I happened to open to the page when he describes the competition between himself and his backup goalie Bunny Larocque:

"Larocque and I compete with each other constantly. We compete in scrimmages and skating drills, by win-loss records and goals against; by going to optional practices and by how often and how long we stay when practice ends. Our competition is undeclared, its results are known only to us; we say nothing to each other about it. But we know. We compete though we are teammates and share the same goals for the team...We know that the team needs two capable goalies, we know that we need each other to avoid the sloppy complacence that a season can bring. But only one goalie can play at a time, and if he plays well, the other may never play. It means that I am happy when we win and happier if I have played; unhappier when we lose, less unhappy if I haven't played. And if the game is close and I am not playing, I will forget myself and hope for Bunny without reservation. But if it is not, I want Bunny to play well, but not too well."

An honest statement from a goalie who had long since retired and just some food for thought on a day when who might play and who might not seems to be on people's mind.

3:46 p.m.
Asked about his status for this evening, goalie Tuukka Rask delivered a smart and smiling "no comment."

That could mean many things, but certainly it would not be surprising to see the rookie hit the crease for the Black & Gold on Saturday or Monday.

Yesterday, the young goalie joined his teammates for a skate that was clearly designed to ensure that the team knew what the coaching staff had thought of their performance thus far.

Looking out at the ice during the skating drills, I couldn't help feeling a little bad for the tall Finnish goalie who clearly had nothing to do with either of the team's two losses.

Like a champ, however, Tuukka suffered through my questions about sprinting in goalie gear.

"That's gotta be the worst thing," said Rask of going full out with 30-extra pounds of padding. "It's not easy, but you just have to battle through it."

Internally, I wondered what Coach Julien might do if one of his goalies had suddenly shed the equipment to do the sprints in their hockey pants, socks and practice jersey. But I didn't want to give Tuukka any ideas, so I just asked if he had ever played "out" in his life.

"Yah, I like doing that," said Rask. "I've done it in the summertime a few times, and I am actually pretty good at it, too.

"It's so different than [skating] with the goalie gear on -- it's so heavy. Especially after practice when it is just soaked.

"You just try and keep up with the guys -- it's not fun," he said.

Rask was polite on Friday and Saturday, when he was repeatedly asked about the possible date for his first start. But the young goalie wouldn't hint if he knew when it would happen and explained that it didn't really matter anyway.

"It's just one game," said Rask. "I'd pretty much focus on my game. You try to do everything the same way whether you play or not. That's especially when you are not playing so much, because you try and keep the same mindset as if you were playing. You know?

"It doesn't change much."

Just for fun, and after asking about Johnny Boychuk's shot, I asked Rask how it felt to get hit by a slapshot from either Boychuk or Zdeno Chara.

"It depends on where it hits you," he said.

The implication being that padding can't protect every inch of a goalie's body equally.

"If it hits you in a bad spot, it hurts, I can tell you that much," said Rask. "But you have good padding on so it's not a big deal most of the time."

I should have asked him to choose: Zee slapper from the slot or sprints.

3:12 p.m.
Down I-95...
Forward Mikko Lehtonen scored two goals in the 5-3 Providence Bruins (now 2-0-0) win over Hartford on Friday night...Last season, Brad Marchand finished second among all first-year AHL players in scoring with 59 points (18g, 41a) -- this season he has started off with a team-leading three goals in two games...Forward Trent Whitfield (2-3-5) and defenseman Andy Wozniewski (1-4-5) lead the P-bruins in points...Defenseman Adam McQuaid has 27-minutes in penalties in two games...Dany Sabourin has gone all the way for Providence and is 2-0-0 with a 2.50 GAA and a .917 sv%...In his first two games since returning from last season's head injury, forward Jeffrey LoVecchio has a 2-1-3 line...Goalie Kevin Regan was reassigned to Reading on Wednesday...Providence hits the road for the first time this season against the Portland Pirates at the Cumberland County Civic Center Saturday at 7:00 p.m. They return to The Dunk on Sunday to wrap up the weekend with a 4:05 p.m. tilt against the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Read more about the Baby B's at Providence

1:10 p.m.
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There is a bit of Crash Davis, Happy Gilmore and even a little Rock & Roll to John Paul Boychuk.

As he enters his sixth year of professional hockey after four years in the WHL, the Bruins seventh defenseman has logged plenty of time on minor league busses from here to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and to these eyes also possesses one of the hardest shots on his new team, the Boston Bruins.

I asked the backliner (who bears a striking resemblance to former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese) if he knew where he was placing those rocketing serves from the blueline.

"Oh yah, absolutely," said Boychuk with mock-incredulity. "Every time."

"It's a hard shot," said a smirking Tuukka Rask with a little wide-eyed reverance and a more than a little concern. "He doesn't know where it's going...He knows that about himself, too."

"I just tell him to keep it low [in practice]."

All kidding aside, if Boychuk does happen to hit the blueline tonight, Boston's attack will have a little different look. While Rask is unconvinced of Boychuk's precision placement, he didn't downplay it's effectiveness.

Tuukka put the blueliner's shot in the same category as Zdeno Chara's hard and heavy bullets from the blue.

Did Boychuk ever play drums for Pearl Jam? Hmmmmm.
"It's funny, there's a couple of guys like him and Zee that when they really wind it up it's coming a lot faster than you think it is," said Rask, suddenly serious. "Usually when you make a save, you have the same motion [on most shots]...but then if you do the same motion -- the same speed with those guys -- it's going to end up being in the net because it is so fast.

"You just have to pay attention."

One spectator learned that this morning. While traversing the stairs, a thundering shot off the stick of Boychuk hit Tuukka's equipment and ricocheted into the stands just missing it's "target" by inches. The thud as it hit a nearby seat and the near miss quality of the moment sent a low rumble through the crowd who saw the action.

I asked John (who was very happy that nobody got hurt) about that particular shot, and he said that one was not his fault.

"It hit Tuukka, so if they had gotten hurt it would have been his fault," he said.

The fact that the spectator was not hit and was okay, coupled with John's earnestness, caused a bit of laughter from the press gathered around Johnny's locker and served as decent icebreaker for what was certainly one of the biggest media scrums Boychuk had ever been in.

"Jeeeze, first time," he said looking up at the bostonbruinsTV and NESN cameras. "Let's go."

He was asked about spending the first three games in the press box.

"You just have to stay positive," he said. "Like I said yesterday, if you get down on yourself you are just going to make yourself that much worse.

Boychuk speaks to a reporter after a hockey team practice at the TD Garden in Boston in September. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
"As soon as you get into the lineup, when you have a good attitude, good things will probably happen to you."

Plenty of good things have happened to Boychuk sine he signed with the Bruins. Last season, the 6'2, 225-pound "Boych" earned the AHL's Eddie Shore Award as the American Hockey League's best defenseman.  He set a Providence record for points by a defenseman while leading the league's blueliners with 66 points and a +19.

And if Boychuk does hit the ice tonight, you can expect a little Eddie Shore hockey. While with the Colorado Avalanche's AHL club in Lake Erie during the 2007-08 season, Boychuck led the squad in penalty minutes, as well.

Boychuk said his practice and exhibition time with the B's veteran blueliners has made quite an impression.

"I got to practice with Zee during the preseason," he explained. "I've gotten to practice with different [Andrew Ference]. If I do something wrong they are going to tell me and then I can correct it and get better."

Asked about finally getting to play in front of the home crowd, John stayed even-keeled.

"I'll be ready to play, that's for sure," said Boychuk of the possibility. "The first shift I would be nervous, anxious, just to get the first shift done.

"But then you just have to build your confidence back up, which probably wouldn't take that long."

11:28 a.m.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk and goalie Tuukka Rask joined B's assistant coach Doug Houda for a three man workout as they were the only attendees at the Black & Gold's optional skate.

So, it was the Tuukka and Johnny show this morning, but neither Rask nor Boychuk could/would comment on whether they would be playing this evening.

Head coach Claude Julien did not comment on his lineup, so I have little to report in the way of hard news.

10:25 a.m.
Boston Bruins left wing Marco Sturm, of Germany, center, celebrates his goal with teammates Marc Savard, left, and Milan Lucic, right, against the Anaheim Ducks in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009. At lower right is Ducks defenseman Steve Eminger. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
I asked Marco Sturm what message the B's coaching staff was sending on Friday.

"Just compete," he said. "We only did it for 20 minutes last night and it happened in game one too, so that just, other teams stuck with it and outworked us that’s what we usually used to do.

"I think the message was pretty clear today and just have to go work harder in the game."

Clearly, Sturm agreed with the coaching staff's assessment.

"They’re right," said Sturm. "I think when you watch video we see it too.

"we showed in game two how we can play and we showed totally the opposite in game one and three so I think everyone here knows that we’re a hard nosed team and a hard working team and we just can’t let it slip like this.

"Every point is important so it’s not the start we want."

Sturm was happy about one thing -- getting to play on Saturday.

"That’s the good thing," he said. "There’s not too much time to think about it and just have to go out and play harder and we should be fine."

10:09 a.m.
After practice on Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien was asked if it were frustrating to use the term "lazy" in reference to his hockey club.

"It is," he said. "Because...we can’t rest on our laurels and what we’ve done in the past is in the past.

"Teams are going to be gunning for us even more and we have to get that attitude. We have to have that chip on our shoulder that we had to prove to people that we are what we [have been said to be] and right now we haven’t got that.

"That’s why I keep saying it’s attitude, it’s commitment and its effort. If you can combine all three and have that right combination, you are going to be successful," he said.

9:32 a.m.

Bergeron. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Yesterday morning at Ristuccia I was typing away when I noticed one player angrily firing puck after puck after puck into the net just below me.

I looked up to see that a grim faced Patrice Bergeron was punishing the net with as many shots as there were pucks.

As quiet as Patrice can be, there are few who take a loss harder than the B's hard working Quebecois forward. So, I wasn't shocked when I looked back at the quotes from Thursday's postgame and saw that  Bergeron's were amongst the most pointed and poignant.

"I think there’s a lot of things we can improve," said Bergeron. "We got to go back to basics, there’s no way we can win games the way we played tonight.

"we didn’t show up and our fans don’t deserve this."

The Bruins had trouble right off the dots.

"I think it starts with the faceoff," he said. "But it starts everywhere, in battles, it’s not just faceoffs, it’s getting the loose pucks and dump ins and stuff like that."

Like many in the Bruins locker room, Bergeron said that last year's success no longer matters.

"We got to make sure we work even harder because all the other teams want to beat us, they all know we have a good team," he said. "They come in here and want to beat us and we got to make sure we work even harder and it hasn’t been done so far.

"Like I said, [we need] to just go back to basics and play simple. That’s how we have had success by playing simple and doing all the things right and playing hard and the steps of hockey and we didn’t do that it’s costing us."

Bergeron was dismayed by the lack of fire in the B's, as well.

"It’s very disappointing, it’s not just them [Shawn Thornton and Steve Begin] -- we need everyone to show emotion on the ice," he said. "They were having some good shifts for us and we just didn’t match them."
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