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Game Day: Panthers @ 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.
Florida 1 0 0-1

Boston 2 1 3-6

First Period-1, Boston, Bergeron 6, :48. 2, Boston, Stuart 5 (Ryder, Wheeler), 6:17. 3, Florida, Kreps 2 (Tarnasky, Stewart), 13:34.

Second Period-4, Boston, Bitz 2 (Yelle, Thornton), 15:53.

Third Period-5, Boston, Bitz 3 (Yelle, Wideman), 3:24. 6, Boston, Ward 2 (Savard, Lucic), 5:46. 7, Boston, Ryder 20 (Axelsson, Savard), 9:31 (pp).

Shots on Goal-Florida 10-6-9-25. Boston 11-10-18-39.

Goalies-Florida, Anderson. Boston, Thomas. A-16,781 (17,565). T-2:20.
The Bruins broke it open in the third as Bitz, Aaron Ward and Michael Ryder all scored to make the Black & Gold 6-1 winners over the Florida Panthers. Thomas had 24 saves in the victory.
0:00 - End of the Game. Boston needed that.

21.2 - B's penalty to Lucic.

1:00 - Two saves for Thomas. The crowd is calling for Bitz!

2:10 - Ryder spinnerama in front of Anderson. Nice idea.

4:11 - Boynton to the box for a hook on Wheeler.

4:56 - Bitz has another big attempt...

6:28 - Anderson stops Chara on a shot from the point.

10:29 - Welcome back Michael Ryder. The forward grabbed a rebound off an Axelsson shot and found twine. It's 6-1.

10:44 - Anderson makes a save on the PK.

10:53 - Stillman in the box for hooking.

14:14 - Aaron Ward pounded one off the iron and in after Savard shot and hit the post. It's 5-1, Boston.

15:02 - Chuck Kobabsew just went at it with Ballard who has very much annoyed several of the Bruins all night. Chuckie did very, very well to overpower (not many punches thrown) Ballard to the ice. Overall, a very satisfying decision for the B's sparkplug.

16:36 - Byron Bits just buried another one. A smart play by Yelle, who put it on net from the blueline and then Bitzy-Cat went straight to the net and got a gorgeous rebound. Give an assist to Yelle and Wideman.

His linemates are clearly very happy for the rookie, who now has his first two-goal NHL game.

18:20 - Consistent pressure by Boston. Anderson finds a loose puck at his feet and hops on it.

19:24 - Kobasew hammers Frolik.

19:50 - Icing Florida.

20:00 - Start of the Third. Boston is 27-1-2 when leading after two. The panthers are 2-18-4 when trailing after two.
Second Period Recap: Tim Thomas made six more saves in the second period, to raise his two session total to 15. But the play of the stanza came when Byron Bitz, stationed in front of Florida goalie Craig Anderson, tipped a hard shot/pass over the Panthers keeper to make the score 3-1 after two.
0:00 - The period fizzled toward the end. Shots were 21-16 at the end of 40-minutes.

1:53 - TV Timeout. Shots are 21-16.

1:56 - Savard and Kessel have hooked up for some terrific plays, but none of them have been on target...

4:07 - What a terrific goal. Byron Bitz tipped a hard and fast feed from Yelle over the body of Anderson to make the score 3-1. Give Thornton a helper.

6:57 - Tim was caught a little out of his net, but recovered and stopped the puck with his paddle and scooped with the glove.

7:49 - Hnidy's shot from the point goes into the protective net behind the Florida goal.

8:44 - Icing Florida.

9:05 - A strong hit by Ryder.

10:09 - A frenetic pace to this game. I do not remember a penalty and at this point I can't remember a whistle.

13:30 - It looks like Timmy may have made another mind boggling save...I am waiting on the replay.

14:39 - Thornton pops Ballard behind the Florida net. Nice check by the B's forward.

15:01 - Florida's turn to create some havoc in the Bruins zone...

16:38 - Nifty move by Kessel to finish a breakaway, but a pretty easy save by Anderson to shut the B's forward down.

18:24 - Save Anderson.

18:42 - The Bruins have already put some solid pressure on Florida...

20:00 - Start of the Second Period.
First Period Recap: The Bruins got off to a fast 2-0 start thanks to an unassisted goal by forward Patrice Bergeron (his sixth of the season) and defenseman Mark Stuart's career best fifth goal of the campaign. However, Florida's Kamil Kreps took advantage of a loose puck in the slot -- and no Bruins within a stick's length -- and fired the puck past Bruins netminder Tim Thomas to make the score 2-1, Boston, going into the first break.
0:00 - A late try by Florida, but to no avail. Shots are 10-10 after 20-minutes.

22.4 - Faceoff to the left of Anderson. Florida controls...

1:40 - Shot Ference. Save Anderson.

2:01 - Glove save Anderson. Shots are 10-9, Boston.

3:55 - This time Tim's dive goes to the right...another nice save by Thomas.

5:08 - Thomas dives on a puck to the left of his goal. Faceoff in the Bruins zone.

6:26 - Florida scores. Kreps picked up a loose puck in the slot and beat the Bruins goalie. It's 2-1. A goal the Bruins would like back. Assists to Tarnasky and Stewart.

6:32 - Thomas stops Kreps with his glove.

7:36 - Offsides Boston, as Kessel held up slightly and the rest of his line beat him into the zone.

8:57 - Faceoff in front of the Boston Bench. The Bruins control...

10:51 - Shots are 5-2, Boston.

13:43 - Hello Mark Stuart. Stuey double clutched on a shot and "faked" out Anderson. The puck slid by Tomas easily and gives the B's a 2-0 lead. Give helpers to Ryder and Wheeler.

That's Stuars fifth goal of the season -- a new career high.

16:20 - Whoops. Timmy gave the puck up behind the net and only a desperation dive and save kept the B's in the lead.

17:23 - Blocked shot by Wideman...

19:12 - Wooooooooo. As nice a goal as you'd like to see from the B's Patrice Bergeron, who cut across the grain and beat Anderson high over the glove.

19:56 - Boston wins the draw.

20:00 - Start of the First Period. Boston is back in their third jerseys.

Boston Starters: Lucic, Savard, Kessel, Ference, Wideman, Thomas
Florida Starters: Peltonen, Campbell, Dvorak, Bouwmeester, Cullimore, Anderson

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

6:41 p.m.
Tim Thomas will face Tomas Vokoun Craig Anderson in goal.

In 38 games this year, Thomas has registered a 25-8-5 record. Thomas leads the NHL in both Goals Against Average (2.09), and save percentage (.932).

The lines are...

6:01 p.m.
Press Box Notes
Michael Ryder is expected to return to the Bruins lineup after missing the last seven games due to multiple fractures of the frontal sinus. He sustained this injury during the Bruins 4-3 shootout win in Ottawa on February 5 and underwent successful surgery to repair the fractures on February 9. Ryder has 19-17-36 totals and a team high seven game-winning goals in 52 games this season.

Other stories...
  • Tonight is game one of a six game homestand for the Bruins. They will play these six games over a 12-day span beginning with the Panthers tonight, Ducks on 2/26, Capitals on 2/28, Flyers on 3/3, Coyotes on 3/5 and Blackhawks on 3/7. Including their road matchup with the Rangers on 3/8, the Black and Gold will play seven games in the next 13 days.
  • Matt Hunwick and Vladimir Sobotka were assigned to Providence today and are expected to play in Providence’s game against Manchester tonight. Hunwick is expected to be recalled and rejoin the Boston Bruins tomorrow.
  • As part of P.J.’s Pajama Drive to collect pajamas for Massachusetts’ children in need, Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson and his wife Siw are visiting the Cradles to Crayons warehouse in Quincy, MA from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, February 25) for a pizza party with last years P.J.’s Pajama Drive winners from the Merrymount Elementary school in Quincy, MA. The students will join the Axelssons for lunch and to help sort the pajamas that have been collected to benefit P.J.’s Pajama Drive (Cradles to Crayons Warehouse, 82 Myrtle Street, Quincy MA 02171).
  • The Panthers shut out the Bruins 2-0 in their last game on February 21, behind a 41-save performance by goaltender Tomas Vokoun. The shutout was his sixth of the season. Radek Dvorak tallied both Panther goals in their win.
  • Astronaut and Cohasset, MA native Steve Bowen is participating in the ceremonial puck drop tonight. A member of the Space Shuttle Endeavour crew, he will use a puck that had previously been taken into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discover by fellow Boston-area native astronaut, Stephanie Wilson.

5:41 p.m.
Injury Update...
Julien updated the press on Petteri Nokelainen:  "He had started working out last week with John Whitesides. Today was his first day on the ice, he had the clearance to participate in the skating session, but he’s still not allowed to have contact. Hopefully that will come in the next few days if everything goes well."

4:32 p.m.
Claude Julien spoke to the media this morning. Click his picture to listen in.
Like Shawn Thornton on WAAF, Coach Julien also spoke to the B’s recent doldrums this morning during his press briefing.

“I think every team goes through that at some point during a season,” he said. “With some it’s early on and some it’s later on.

“I don’t think we expected our team to ride at the level it did.  This isn’t a sport that you play 18 games, you’re playing 82.  So it’s a little bit different. So you’re going to have your highs and your lows.

“But I think that…through your lows you grow through adversity and build some character along the way. We just hope that you get your game back when the time is right,” he said.

So, for now, the B’s will attempt to build towards the playoffs.

“Right now it’s up to us to find our game again and to start working upwards, heading towards the playoffs,” said Julien. “Being home is great and having the home fans behind you is a good thing.

“Certainly this six game homestretch is important for our hockey club and having our fans behind us hopefully will give us that little extra we need to get over the hump.”

4:04 p.m.

Florida's Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for the Panthers reports
(via the Sun-Sentinel).

7:20 p.m. Update:
Craig Anderson is in goal.

3:51 p.m.
Thorts on Hill Man Morning Show
This morning, Shawn Thornton spoke to WAAF's Hill-Man Morning Show and when asked about the expectation level going into the last 22 games of the year, Thornton said,"Well, we put ourselves in this position. So that's what you want when you are on top -- you want the pressure.

"We had a little bit of a slide, lately, but if you had gave me this [record] at the start of the year I would have bought it. We're still seven or eight points up on the team behind us, and it's February. So there's no panic in the room. We have some things to sort out but were [ready] to go forward here."

Shawn's talk with Greg Hill and Lyndon Byers is a podcast at

3:09 p.m.
B's Forward P.J. Axelsson to Visit Cradles to Crayons
P.J. Axelsson
On Wednesday, February 25, Boston Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson and his wife Siw (pronounced "SEEVE") are visiting the Cradles to Crayons warehouse in Quincy, MA from 3:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. for a pizza party with last year’s P.J.'s Pajama Drive winners from the Merrymount Elementary school in Quincy, MA.

The Merrymount Elementary school students will join the Axelsson's for lunch and to help sort the pajamas that have been collected to benefit this year's P.J.'s Pajama Drive (Cradles to Crayons Warehouse, 82 Myrtle Street, Quincy MA 02171).

P.J. Axelsson, Cradles to Crayons, and BJ's Wholesale Club teamed up for the Second Annual P.J.'s Pajama Drive to benefit Massachusetts' children in need. The Drive officially kicked off Monday, February 2.  Throughout the month of February, fans, families, schools and corporations are encouraged to make donations to help underprivileged children statewide.

To wrap up the Drive, the Boston Bruins will have an in-game pajama collection on February 28th at the Bruins' home game against the Washington Capitals. Fans participating in the Pajama Drive on the 28th will also receive a raffle ticket for each pair of pajamas donated. The raffle winner will receive Boston Bruins team autographed memorabilia.

2:46 p.m.
J.P. Dumont #71 of the Nashville Predators and Dennis Wideman #6 of the Boston Bruins battle for position at the TD Banknorth Garden January 29, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
I asked Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman about the club’s recent issues.

“Our slide has a lot to do with our work ethic and cutting corners and kind of developing some bad habits that we were getting away with,” said Wideman. “And in December, when we were on that run, we still won, but we were developing [those] habits and now we are getting into the point of the season where ever game is so important to everybody.

“You can’t get away with those little corner cuts and bad habits.”

I asked Dennis how the club was dealing with the monkeys on their collective back.

“Good habits are hard to put into your game, but bad ones are even harder to get out of,” said Wideman, simply. “We’re at point where we are trying to get ourselves back to the way we were playing back in November and early December.

“We haven’t been forechecking as hard, finishing checks, driving the net – the hard things that it takes to win -- we’ve kind of got away from [that].

“The 'D', we haven’t been jumping into corners as quick as we have [in the past] and winning battles,” he said.

Finally, I asked Wideman what he planned on bringing to the table tonight, in an effort to do his part in righting the ship.

“You just want to make sure that your work ethic is there,” he said before adding, "That you go into the corner trying to win every battle so that you come up with the puck every [time].

“And when you are working hard and doing the right thing, goals will come.”

12:00 p.m.
Boston Bruins Michael Ryder looks on during their hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Boston Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Michael Ryder is going to play this evening.

"He's ready to go and he's been cleared and I think he's been working out pretty hard with us," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "So, we're going to put him back in the lineup, tonight.

"Everything seems to be healing properly and he got the okay from the doctors -- that's the important part.

"Anytime you get a player like that back in your lineup, it's a plus," said Julien.

For his part, Ryder, who will wear a clear, full face, shield was excited to be back in the fold.

"It's been so long, I am just excited to get back on the ice," said Ryder.

Ryder also said he would probably continue to wear some form of  shield for the rest of the season.

11:00 a.m.
It looks like Bruins goalie Timmy Thomas is done for the morning. This should indicate that he is the starter tonight.

Manny Fernandez is still in drills.

10:27 a.m.
One more thing...
I forgot to mention (and Matt Kalman's reminded me) is that Peter Chiarelli gave an update on Michael Ryder during his conference call, yesterday.

"Ryder should be back very shortly, if not [Tuesday]," he said.

9:18 a.m.

Hunwick, Sobotka Assigned
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has assigned defenseman Matt Hunwick and forward Vladimir Sobotka to the Providence Bruins (American Hockey League). Both are expected to play in Providence's game tonight against the Manchester Monarchs at 7:00 p.m. ET, while Hunwick is expected to be recalled and rejoin the Boston Bruins on Wednesday ...more

8:40 a.m.
Peter Chiarelli Conference Call
Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, left, talks with reporters at a news conference with head coach Claude Julien at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
The NHL Trade Deadline is a little over a week away, and although we can’t deal with rumors on, we can report that general manager Peter Chiarelli discussed his options going into the trade deadline via national conference call on Monday afternoon (Podcast link above).

Chiarelli admitted that there could be some activity on Causeway Street on March 4th.

“We're going to try,” said the Bruins GM. “Last year, we looked an at some deals and we decided they weren't worth messing with the chemistry.

“That certainly will be in the equation this year. Certainly I would like to add a couple things if I can.”

However, parity in the league, particularly beneath the top spots in the conferences, may make movement difficult.

“The races are so tight now,” said Chiarelli. “As of this time, there's not a lot happening.

“There's a lot of discussion, but not a lot happening, [but] we'll see how the next few days unfold.”

In terms of preparation, the Hub of Hockey has its list.

“We've got a relatively short list of players that we're looking at,” said Chiarelli. “We know we're in competition with other teams to get those players.”

And what if other teams begin to pick away at the Bruins list?

“As that list shortens and we're not getting any of these players, it's only natural we'd try and step up our efforts,” said Chiarelli. “We look at our list more than we look at our competitors.”

The Bruins chemistry has been well documented and Chiarelli said that he would have to weigh any possible impact on the roster against the strengths of a new player.

“Well, part of it is deciding if you have to subtract to add, if it means taking away a significant piece, or any piece for that matter, you really have to really look at it and think about it long and hard if you want to do it,” he said. “You have to weigh the piece, the player or players that you're moving out and the player or players that you're moving in.

“Is it worth what you're giving up in the long run?

“You talk to your coaching staff at length about the room and how these players will interact and how they will react,” he said.

Chiarelli talked about witnessing those type of transactions in Ottawa.

“You have to be careful,” said the B’s GM. “We went through that in Ottawa where we thought we were getting the best player -- and we were -- and it just didn't fit in the mix of things.

“You have to be very careful [because] it may take away from roles of other players on and off the ice that may be detrimental.

“So there's a lot more than just what the player brings on the ice that we look at and discuss,” he said.

Perhaps the best question was, “How much do you weigh going for the Cup this season with the long-term health of the franchise?”

Chiarelli said: “Well, I've talked about windows. In the salary cap system, you have your windows that come and go fairly quickly. Having said that, we have a pretty strong, young foundation…[and] as much as you want to seize the opportunity and as much as our market demands it, I'm more apt to be patient and not to pick apart the young foundation we have.”

“It's tempting,” continued Chiarelli. “And certainly it's something that we look at long and hard, especially since there are some players out there that can give you immediate impact in certain situations.

 “So it's our job to balance that.”

Lastly, Chiarelli said that some of the B’s best prospects may never wear the Black & Gold in Boston.

“Understand also that we have young players that may never see our lineup or won't fit into our lineup that are good players,” he said. “You have to recognize those players and use them as chips in any future deals.”
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