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Game Day: Maple Leafs 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.
Coach Claude Julien was not happy when he addressed the media, postgame:

"Very poor (effort). That's one of those games, as a coach, that are unacceptable. And from the get go...I don't think we played well from the start to finish. What's (most) disappointing is that we had warned our players for the last two days that (Toronto is) a hard working team...and if we didn't come prepared to play and work hard and at least match if not surpass their work ethic, it was going to be a long night. They had to find out the hard way."

Friday's practice could be interesting. I'll be reporting from Wilmington tomorrow morning. JB
0:00 - Boston falls to Toronto, 4-2. The stat being thrown around the press room is that the Bruins had never blown a two goal lead and lost in regulation under coach Julien.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Dominic Moore (19) celebrates the go-ahead goal he assisted on against Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas (30) in the third period of their hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. The Maple Leafs won 4-2. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
2.7 - The Maple Leafs score. Looks like Hagman. 4-2, Leafs.

22.4 - Toronto almost scores, Boston clears.

1:31 - Bergeron wins a draw and Boston makes a shorthanded bid.

1:52 - Boston had possession in the TO zone, but the Leafs take the puck back down ice and draw a penalty. Kessel in the box for hooking.

2:40 - Toronto is keeping the puck in the Bruins end.

5:00 - The B's would love to get to a shootout right now! They are pressuring the the Leafs, but no goals are coming. Desperation time...

9:14 - Toronto scores. Through traffic. 3-2, Leafs. Stralman gets the goal.

11:39 - Ryder to the box. He disagrees, but TO is on the PP.

12:20 - Wheelers turn to try and put it through the goalie. But Toskala takes it in the breadbasket to stop play.

14:40 - Savard is pulled down and Steen goes to the box for Toronto. Hooking.

16:29 - Hagman shoots on Thomas from point blank range. Tim takes the puck in the stomach and holds on.

16:52 - Tim fell down on the goal line, stretched out and stopped two Toronto shots.

17:15 - Wheeler in the bin for hooking.

17:51 - Timmy boxed one around. A Toronto shot ends up under him, he kicked it away and behind the goal. Scary.

18:21 - The pressure is mounting on Toronto. Boston has been in their zone for most of the period.

19:01 - Ryder finds the puck in the slot and has his bid kicked away.

19:59 - Boston controls the puck and gets it deep into Toronto territory.

20:00 - Start of the Third Period.
00.0 - A final power play shot by Wideman is blocked and the B's go to the second break tied, 2-2.

55.7 - Schenn to the box for Toronto for interference. A goal would be very, very nice.

1:47 - Aaron Ward to the dressing room. I'm hoping for an equipment issue.

2:47 - Thornton just got into a little confrontation with Mayers. He made a talking motion with his hands to Mayers, which could be read as, "Stop talking and drop 'em." Nope.

3:59 - Luch is at it again. This time he nails Stralman behind the net.

6:37 - Close but no cigar. Several good chances at the end of the power play by Krejci, Ference and Lucic.

8:52 - Ponikarovsky (say that five times fast) is in the penalty box for holding.

10:21 - Chara is playing with Stephane Yelle's stick. Zee's broke and Yelle gave his to Chara.

11:15 - Sturm in the box.

11:30 - A defensive lapse finds Antropov behind the net -- alone -- and scores (thanks to assists from Stajan and Ponikarovsky). 2-2. Uh oh.

13:43 - Toronto took advantage of their opportunity. And, through a screen, beat Tim for their first goal. 2-1, Boston. Power play goal by Van Ryn.

15:29 - Ference in the box for hooking.

16:16 - It wasn't pretty, but Timmy Thomas just did a move out of Jane Fonda's workout video to stop a shot from his right. Tim went down, stayed there, laid down, did some leg lifts and stopped the puck. And hey, he probably worked the abs.

16:29 - Thornton puts one on goal. Toskala stops it.

18:07 - The arena (and the teams) are having a little trouble with getting back in the groove. The delay was not long at all, but to see such a thing is rare.

19:40 - Boston controls the draw to restart play.

19:40 - Milan Lucic just put someone (Van Ryn) THROUGH the Garden's glass. WOW. It'll be on Youtube, later. Wait 'til you see it. Unfortunately, the female fan in the front row looks to have taken a stick to the head and some glass in the hair. She and her male companion look to be okay and are getting treatment (very quick response, BTW).

Both fans left the area under care and under their own power. Kudos the the fans and ushers in the area for helping so quickly.

19:57 - Toronto takes the faceoff.

20:00 - Beginning of Second Period.
Intermission - Just watching the replay of Wheeler's goal. The pass from Axelsson to Wheeler was outstanding. From the Ford sign in the Bruins zone, he hit Wheeler moving throught the neutral zone, and Wheels did the rest -- with some help from Stralman, who gave the line-hugging shot the English it needed to hit the net.
0:00 - That was the best five minutes of hockey I've seen from the B's. They really kicked in the higher gear to finish the period and go to the break with a nice, 2-0, lead.

3.0 - Toskala smothers a shot from Chara. Holds on for a late faceoff.

1:10 - A big hit near center ice, Wideman on Stajan. Schenn in the box for TO (rough), Stajan left the ice via his own power.

3:57 - Blake Wheeler just added another, from Axelsson and Ward. He shot from nearly the goal line to Toskala's left, made it through the goalie, off a Leaf and in. Pretty. 2-0, B's.

Patrice Bergeron
4:28 - BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERGY! Patrice redirectsa Hnidy feed from the point. A pretty nifty goal for the alternate captain. Bergy's first of the season. 1-0, Boston.

4:32 - Phil shoots it into the stands. Looks like the draw will remain in the zone.

6:12 - Thomas makes two more saves, on Kubina (from the point) and Antopov (from the doorstep).

7:06 - Timmy with a big save to keep the score 0-0.

8:01 - Savard is in the box for a hold.

8:36 - It's sloppy, folks. And the chances (at both ends) are like those found at BU's Walter Brown Arena at 2 a.m. for pick-up hockey. Yuck.

10:16 - Wideman throws a wild shot on Toskala and nearly fools the Toronto goaltender, who gathered the puck and held on for the draw.

Did I mention that Jason Blake is a healthy scratch?

12:13 - A combo of Ward, Thomas and the post keeps the Leafs from scoring. A scramble in front puts Tim and Aaron on their knees and has both men flailing for the puck - successfully.

13:42 - First shot of the game. Stajan for Toronto.

14:17 - Thornton to the box for tripping. Shawn did not agree and could be seen shaking his head as he made his way to the box.

14:24 - A lot of skating back and forth, but NO SHOTS by either team, yet.

17:13 - Both teams have traded offensive chances and hits -- but there have been no shots, thus far.

18:17 - First whistle results in a faceoff in the Toronto zone.

18:28 - Axelsson is back on the ice.

19:59 - Boston controls the puck and heads back up ice after curling into their own zone.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. A fast start and some quick goals are in order. Your starters are Sturm, Begeron, Ryder, Wideman, Chara and Thomas. Toskala is in goal for TO.

Switching to time on the clock...

6:41 p.m.
The lines...
Lucic – Savard – Kessel
Sturm – Bergeron – Ryder
Axelsson - Krejci – Wheeler
Sobotka - Yelle - Thornton
Chara - Wides
Ference - Ward
Stuart – Hnidy

Scratch: Hunwick, Nokelainen

5:50 p.m.
Head coach Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bruins head coach Claude Julien spoke this morning about his assessment of the team’s first six games.

“We’ve played well enough,” said Julien. “I think we gave ourselves a chance to win.

“Everybody knows that shootouts haven’t been very kind to us and it’s kind of cost us a few points, but overall, I think as a team we’re going in the right direction.”

Discipline has been a part of the equation.

“I’ve always said it’s about positioning,” he said. “If you’re in good position, you’re going to take less penalties.

“If you’re running around, getting caught out of position, that’s when you end taking those types of penalties.

“And we preach that a lot to our players, about being in good position, and making sure that our sticks are on the ice, and not around people’s waists.”

Leadership is also important and having a healthy Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup has been key.

“Patrice is certainly a big part of that,” said the Bruins head coach. “His leadership, his work ethic, and the way he’s battled back.

“We’re extremely pleased.”

With Toronto, the Bruins do not intend to change their way of thinking.

“No, the biggest mistake we could ever do, is approach teams differently,” said Julien. “Our motto anyway has always been to focus on our game and on our work ethic.

“I know for a fact that the Leafs work ethic is very good right now, and any time you work hard, you’re giving yourselves a chance to win and they’ve done that as well.”

So what’s the solution?

“I think an important part is to at least match, if not surpass, the work ethic of the other team and that’s what its going to boil down to tonight,” explained Julien. “Hopefully, we can play the types of games that we’ve been playing and find ways to score a few more goals.”

Coach then added, “I think both teams would like to avoid shootouts tonight.”

Then he chuckled -- but not for very long.

3:05 p.m.

Ottawa Senators' Filip Kuba, left, gets hit into the boards by Boston Bruins' Shawn Thornton during second-period NHL hockey action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ontario, on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Sean Kilpatrick)
In many ways, playing the Maple Leafs might be some of the most special moments in a Canadian boy’s career.

For those players who grew up loving (i.e. Shawn Thornton) or disliking (i.e. Milan Lucic) the Buds, any chance to face them on the ice can be an exciting experience.

“For me, being from there and with the fact that they drafted me, too, it makes it a little bigger for me,” said Thornton. “I get excited every time I play these guys.

“I just watched them my whole life. Every game you see on TV is going to be the Leafs -- especially when you live 20-minutes outside of the city -- they don’t put anything else on.

“So you have memories as of a kid of watching them, and now you get to play against them,” he said, eyes wide. “It’s pretty cool.”

Television probably had as much to do with Lucic’s dislike of the team.

“The Leafs are the most televised team across Canada,” said Milan. “And being a western kid (from Vancouver), obviously there’s a dislike, for me, towards them.”

So, playing the Leafs was a fulfillment of a dream of sorts for Lucic. However, Luch admits that pretty much every game is still exciting to him.

“I think every game, now, has turned into a fun game,” said Lucic. “But the first couple of ones (against Toronto) it was real special to play against them.

“It’s always fun when you get to play against an Original Six team.”

2:37 p.m.
Boston Bruins' P.J. Axelsson (11), of Sweden, moves the puck toward his offensive end after getting past Detroit Red Wings' Valtteri Filppula (51), of Finland, during the first period of their preseason NHL hockey game on Friday, Sep. 26, 2008, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)
Coach Julien spoke about the addition of P.J. Axelsson to the Bruins lineup.

Having faced Axelsson as an opponent, Julien said that he always respected Axlesson's play.

"I know that in talking to Jacques LaPerriere when I was in New Jersey, he loved Axelsson when he was coaching here," said Julien. "So there are some of those players that you appreciate even more when you’ve got them on your team.

"Again, I can use the example of Jay Pandolfo, who I think is very similar in that way in that the minute that you have him on your team, you certainly learn to respect and appreciate his play even more when you see him everyday.

"That’s what Axelsson is here and that’s what he done I think with every coach."

12:50 a.m.
Just a reminder: The Bruins will host their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night tonight, so in addition to the traditional Black & Gold, you may see a lot of lavender.

Lavender, which represents awareness for all cancers, is the designated color for this year's initiative.

Hockey Fights Cancer (HFC) is a joint charitable initiative founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association and supported by NHL member clubs.
During the game, pediatric cancer patients will be sitting on the bench during pre-game warm-ups, riding the zamboni, high fiving the players as they walk out of the locker room and meeting players after the game.

All in-game fund-raising activities, as well as 50/50 proceeds, will benefit The Cam Neely Foundation. 
And as a show support for the initiatives, coaches, broadcasters and selected players will wear Hockey Fights Cancer ties.

11:50 a.m.
Manny Fernandez was last off, so it looks like Tim Thomas is in net. And we should see the return of P.J. Axelsson.

10:40 a.m.

Original Six matchups are the best, and for a team that has some bad luck over the last few days, perhaps an adrenaline fueled throw down with the Toronto Maple Leafs is just what the doctor ordered.

Yesterday, the Bruins had a sparsely attended optional on-ice practice. On the ice: Thornton, Wheeler, Sobotka, Hunwick, Nokelainen, Chara, Axelsson and Thomas. Coaches Houda, Essensa and Ward presided.

But in the locker room, several of the Bruins spoke about the game against the Sabres.

“We had a good game,” said David Krejci. “But it’s frustrating to lose a shootout three times in a row.”

But “Krech,” as he is called by his teammates, does not have a problem with the penalty shot contest.

“I think it’s good for hockey,” he said. “It’s good for the fans, and it’s good for the players, (because) they get more excited.

“It’s a good thing.”

But losing shootouts, particularly to conference and divisional opponents, is not a good thing. However, Krejci does not think it’s out of the realm of possibility to improve the odds.

“You have to practice,” said the forward. “Everyday, on the ice, you have to practice those (moves) and try to get better at it.”

Krejci explained the shootout thought process.

“I talk to a coach before (the shot),” said David. “He tells me the (goalies’) weaknesses.

“(Tuesday) he said the five-hole is where (Miller) usually gets beat.

“So, I tried to shoot five-hole,” he said.

But in the end, it’s still just hockey.

“You just go,” said Krejci. “If there is one play that you want to do, you just focus on it and try to do it.

“But it’s up to you if you do it well.”

The Bruins are on the ice. Time to head out to the rink. JB
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