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Monday, Monday...

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
There was a little more room on the ice today at practice as the Bruins assigned several players to the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. Click here for the official Bruins release.

Even with the cuts, a four game win streak kept the team’s spirits very high and smiles continue to be evident before and after practice. Click here for the Bruins current roster.

However, what surprises this reporter is the number of smiles that continue to be seen DURING practice, between drills, when coaches are diagramming plays, during laps et al.

Yes, this is a recurrent theme in this space, but I am not exaggerating.

Coach Lewis even elicited some laughter during his on ice instructions.

For whatever reason, this is a very loose group of Bruins, even as the beginning of the regular season closes in on our NHL squad.

And it is not as if the team does not work hard. Nor is it the case that the practices are easy.

On the contrary: They work very hard, yes. The practices are hard, yes.

But it’s a relaxed bunch of guys who are going into this week’s preseason finales versus the New York Rangers (Wednesday at New York, Saturday in Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden). Click here to purchase tickets.

In fact, just before practice, defenseman Milan Jurcina, goalie Tim Thomas and Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa all tooled around the ice, acting as if they were kids on a pond – just enjoying the game and the open, clean ice.

If not for the huge spoked B’s on their chest and on a jacket, that’s exactly what they looked like – kids having fun.

And for the most part, everyone from Coach Lewis on down has consistently looked like they are enjoying themselves during the preseason.

And why not?

Hockey is a GAME, after all.

Odds and ends…
General Manager Peter Chiarelli spoke to XM Satellite radio this morning, including a bit about Brian Leetch…have a listen, courtesy of Home Ice XM 204. Click here to listen.

Thus far, the Bruins success in the preseason has been a very team oriented affair. Case in point:
In terms of preseason stats, only a couple of Bruins have broken into the leaders in the NHL:
-Tim Thomas is 9th with a 1.20 goals against average, through two games and 100 minutes.
-Thomas is 7th in save percentage at 96%.
-Marco Sturm holds the 10th spot with 4 assists in 3 games.
-Sturm is tied for fourth with 6 points with 2 goals and 4 assists.

Another evil new drill was added to the Boston repertoire this morning. And I mean aerobically evil.

The Bruins were made to go through terrific wind sprints that made them look like squads of short track speed skaters doing semi-figure eights around the Ristuccia Memorial Arena.

Doesn’t sound too exciting?

Well, I wish I could do the drill justice, especially as it was pretty interesting to see the goalies give it a go.

Because of their need for lateral movement, goalie skates tend to have little or no edge on their blades, so, you see, skating fast is prohibitive, and skating fast while turning, is nearly impossible.

It may not have been pretty, but Hannu and Tim got it done.

During another drill, the accidental collision between Brad Stuart and Jeff Hoggan created quite a stir from the other players on the ice.

An amused “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh” was heard from all corners as the boys picked themselves up.

The defense returned to their one-timer drills, adding a pass into the mix before they shot. So, it was pass, pass, shoot.

Accuracy continued to count and each miss was ‘rewarded’ with some more pushups. Not too many misses.

The Bruins finished practice around 11:10 and quickly dressed and headed out to the WBZ Golf Tournament in Ipswich.

Heard in and around the locker room…
“Practice was good. We had a nice day off yesterday, we got to enjoy a little bit of NFL Sunday, so that was good…It’s nice to see I am still around and still kicking…Hopefully I am around a little longer so I can get to enjoy the city that much more.”
Forward, Wade Brookbank, on making it through cuts and today’s practice

“We’ve been in Moncton, Halifax and you…get to go to dinner with all of the guys, get to know the guys more and I think that was good, to get on the road for exhibition games…I think we have a better feel [for] the new guys, and also I think we have a better chemistry as a team right now.”
Forward, Patrice Bergeron, on the four game road swing through Canada

“You know, when you are winning everyone’s having fun and that’s what the trip was – it was fun. We got to build on some stuff and we’ve got two more weeks before the season starts, so we’ve gotta keep going…[Saturday at the TD Banknorth Garden] will be a good atmosphere. There is a lot of buzz going on about this team with Big Z and Savvy getting signed…”
Forward, Yan Stastny, on being on the road and coming home to the Garden

“I looking to come back and get that game out [of the way] and play at home. I am really excited to play at home. Its really exciting to get the season going, I think that we are going into the next two games with most of our team, our lineup, and I am really excited to see what our team looks like.”
Forward, Brad Boyes, on going to NYC for a final road exhibition, and returning, finally, to the Garden

“The guys are playing well, and the whole team is contributing to our success so far during the preseason. We just want to continue to do that, play well, continue to get closer [as a team], win the next two games and have a good start to the regular season.”
Defenseman, Zdeno Chara, on this week’s priorities

“It’s been pretty good up until this point. When we came in here, I was a new face, there were a lot of new faces and it was a little bit of a feeling out process. But now, I think we’ve got a real good positive attitude in here right now. People are going real hard in practice and it is carrying over into our exhibition games. We just try to come in everyday, work hard, have a great attitude and usually when you do that you are going to win hockey games.”
Defenseman, Jason York, on being a newcomer, and how the feeling in the room has progressed

“Well today I thought we had an awful lot of energy. Winning some games, using different people, getting down to a [more reasonable number of players in the locker room], getting more familiar with who they are playing with, who they are on the ice with, I think all of those things are positive…It’s just good to get to a number where you get to do a lot more things with them.”
Head Coach, Dave Lewis, on the teams progress

And one more thing…
Boston Bruins Head Coach Dave Lewis and Bruins forward Brad Boyes will join Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and representatives of Comcast for the official announcement of the 2006 Mayor’s Cup Youth Ice Hockey Tournament at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26, in the Mayor’s Office at Boston City Hall.

The Boston Bruins and Comcast return as the official presenting sponsors of the 13th Annual Mayor’s Cup Youth Ice Hockey Tournament, which brings hundreds of young players from throughout Boston’s neighborhoods together for five days of exciting competition. This year’s tournament kicks off on September 30 and continues on October 1, 7, 8, and 9.

The Mayor’s Cup will host more than 50 teams of youngsters in the Mite, Squirt, and Pee Wee divisions together at Boston skating rinks. Boston University, Northeastern University, Boston College, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, as well as UMass/Boston, have made tournament ice time available.

Filling a void left by a major sponsor withdrawing its support for the 2006 tournament, the Boston Bruins provided a grant to pay for all the jerseys worn by the players and will invite 1,500 participants as their guests on September 30 to enjoy a Bruins game as they take on the New York Rangers at TD Banknorth Garden.

“The Boston Bruins recognize the importance of this tournament to Boston’s young people and the organization was quick to step in and offer additional support by giving the kids jerseys and game tickets,” noted Mayor Menino. “In doing so they provided our young athletes with an example of how true champions come through in a time of need and contribute to a team effort.”

Teams hailing from Dorchester, West Roxbury, Charlestown, East Boston, South Boston, Allston/Brighton, and Hyde Park have been invited to compete for the coveted Mayor’s Cup in this year’s USA Hockey-registered and sanctioned tourney.

The tournament finals will be held at Boston College’s Conte Forum on October 9 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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