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On the Road: Halifax, Nova Scotia

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.
10:26 p.m.

The Bruins began their 2008-09 exhibition campaign with a bang tonight as Patrice Bergeron had a goal and three assists in his first action since being concussed last season.

Bergeron was clearly excited after the game and smiled widely at the media members who interviewed him in the Bruins locker room in the Metro Centre here in Halifax.

"I was having so much fun," said Patrice. "It was great to be back.

"But, I am very happy that it's over."

Bergeron put to rest any lingering concerns about his health by throwing his body around in the corners and marking his name on the scoresheet.

"It felt good," he said of his goal. "And I am glad that everybody played well.

"But it's so early, we can't get too excited about that one."

Just looking at the young man, you could see that he felt as if he had passed a final test.

"In the first period, I had to get my rhythm back, but after that I felt pretty good," said Bergeron. "I am very happy that the first one is behind me now...and people can stop asking me how I am feeling."
0:00 - Boston wins, 8-3.

1:53 - Canadiens score. It's 8-3.

3:36 - Gotta head to the locker rooms, folks. I'll check in later (or immediately if something big happens.)

4:22 - 7792 is the attendance. A very nice crowd!

7:36 - A (missed) charge by one of the Kostitsyns leads to Ference earning the Gordie Howe hattrick. He pulled the lights out on Andrei and hammered away at him. Montreal is clearly annoyed by the score. I am pretty sure this is not over. There is a lot of jawing between both boxes.

8:45 - A minor tussle between Jeremy Reich and someone named Flinn is followed at 8:42 by Shawn Thornton absolutely destroying Steve Begin in a grudge match.

Thorts pounded Begin with both hands to earn a TKO.

8:53 - Heard in the press box, "Wardo on the back door!"

Aaron took a very nice pass from Patrice Bergeron to beat Denis. 8-2, Boston.

10:44 - Outstanding save by Kevin Regan, who has looked solid. Scoreboard has the B's outshooting Montreal 35-15.

15:28 - Bitz in the box. Montreal gets a chance.

15:45 - Axelsson scores on a tip in. It's 7-2 Boston.

16:07 - Maxwell in the box. Boston on the PP, again!

18:12 - Sturm finishes a nice breakout by Kessel, who waited until the last possible moment to pass across to his linemate and beat Denis.

19:40 - First save for Regan.

20:00 - New goalies for both teams. Regan in for the Bruins. Denis for Montreal.
0:00 - A really decent period for the Bruins.

9.4 - BERGERON scores. Patrice tipped a Sturm shot in for his firs goal in a VERY long time. Congrats! The Power Play goal puts Boston up 5-2.

12.9 - LaPierre levels Marchand at the doorstep and earns a minor.

2:31 - Tomas Plekanec grabs a pass at the blue, splits the D and beats Manny. 4-2, Boston.

3:07 - McQuaid to the box and that gives the Canadiens a 5-on-3.

3:37 - Tempers flaring, kids. Sobotka angers the Habs with a hard hit. No CHC penalties, however, and the B's are on the PK.

4:42 - Boy, did this period slow down!

6:04 - An extra shot to the face of Sobotka gets Dandenault 2-minutes.

6:54 - Byron Bitz follows up a nice shot on goal with an invitation to fight a guy named Alex Henry. Bitzy did fine, although Henry got the takedown -- Bitz hit Henry in the face on the way down.

This could get ugly. The B's have obvious control of the period and the game.

9:23 - A Bruin in the box -- thornton -- Montreal on a PP.

11:07 - Andrew Ference scores. WIth the two man advantage Boston cycled the puck constantly until with 17-seconds left, Ference saw a hole. 4-1, Boston.

12:44 - Boston is on a 5-on-3.

12:50 - Nice job Kess! Phil basically tackled one of the Habs who laid Marco Sturm into the boards with a questionable hit, I think it was a Kostitsyn, and started a big ol' pileup to the left of Halak. Bergy is in there, Sturmie (who is fine), Stokes and Ward were in there too.

Gotta say again, "Nice job Phil."

And it looks like the B's are going to be on the PP.

15:13 - Penner in the box for a hook.

15:51 - Marco Sturm puts another by the Montreal goaltender, 3-1. Bergy with an assist.

16:19 - Vladimir Sobotka puts a very hard shot by Halak to put the B's up, 2-1.

16:53 - Nate Thompson almost batted a deflected shot into the Canadiens goal, but Halak pulled the puck from midair.

17:58 - A quick start and Manny Fernandez needed to make an early stop.

20:00 - Start of Second Period.
0:00 - End of the first. Nice last five minutes for both teams as the feet caught up with the hands and brains. Very impressed with the play of Wheeler and Marchand thus far. Manny and Bergy look fine. Very nice pace to the game and a great crowd.

2:44 - Montreal goal. Maxwell beats Manny glove side. Alex Tanguay gets an assist.

3:45 - Our first pile up of the night.

4:21 - The B's power play kept the puck in the CHC zone for most of that penalty.

6:18 - One of the Kostitsyn's hits the box. Bruins on the PP.

6:55  - Still very sloppy. Neither team has control of the ice.

10:30 - Sobotka with a gorgeous breakaway goal from Wheeler! 1-0, Boston.

11:46 - Bergeron called for a minor (I think a hook). Teams are at 4-on-4.

12:09 - B's back on the pp.

12:44 - Nice shift for the sSobotka line.

13:47 - CHC is at full strength. Both teams a little sloppy in the early goings.

15:01 - Big shot from Thornton. Halak with the chest save.

15:52 - O'Byrne off for the slash. B's on the PP.

16:51 - B's, at full strength...having some trouble getting it out of the zone.

17:36 - Montreal has not hit the net yet.

19:13 - Krejci off for holding the stick.

19:57 - Bergeron wins the first face off.

20:00 - Teams in the locker room. The theme to Hockey Night in Canada is blasting.
The Bergeron line is starting for Boston and Bergy took the ceremonial drop.
By the way, if you would like to listen in to the game go to They are covering the game.

Let's revert to game time...

6:31 p.m.
The Lineup...
Sturm - Bergeron -  Kessel
Axelsson - Krejci - Wheeler
Marchand - Sobotka - Thornton
Reich - Thompson - Bitz
Penner - Ward
Alberts - McQuaid
Ference - Stokes

6:24 p.m.
Halak led the Habs out and Manny led the B's...

6:09 p.m.
The crowd is filing in to the Metro Centre and the teams should be out for warm ups soon. I will get you the lines as soon as the guys hit the ice.

Tim Horton's treats in the press box folks -- it doesn't get any better than that!

4:29 p.m.
(which is 5:29 p.m. in Halifax)
Just got into the Halifax Metro Centre -- Love this barn!

Game Notes are in the blue box to the right.
Printable Version of Notes
 View or download a printable version of this release. (PDF: 71k)

2:16 p.m.
Going through my tape of the post practice presser, Coach Julien also had some interesting things to say about the number of spots available on the roster.

“I think there are going to be a lot of guys battling at the end, for those last few roster spots,” said the coach, who added that spots are not cemented and repeated, “There are a lot of guys battling for those last three or four spots…which is great because that means there is depth in this organization.”

When asked if those spots are on the lines or the d-pairs, Julien said, “Both position.”

Alrighty, it’s getting choppy as we come in to land and I have to go cower. I’ll write more on the ground.

1:15 p.m.
Hurry up and wait. The plane is about to start moving so, we will be on our way shortly.

I am sitting behind Naoko Funayama. Zdeno Chara is behind me and it looks as if they removed a seat for his legs.

The B’s brass, including Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli are in the front, with some of the worker B’s in the middle above the wing and the rest of the players at the back.

This is a very, very packed plane, what with 45 players, support personnel and the cabin crew.

There’s lots of food around, though, with salads and fruit and sandwiches. Nice.

1:01 p.m.
Head Coach Claude Julien was pleased with what he has seen thus far.

“We have a good group of guys here, and we got some indication of where our prospects are,” he said. “We have a pretty good idea about our veterans, and they all came in pretty good shape and seem to be in a good frame of mind.

“So, right now it’s about seeing the guys who are going to push for a spot.”

Don’t count Boston’s coach amongst those who feel like the schedule may be a hindrance going forward.

“I don’t think so,” said Julien. “It’s one of those situations where, (the players) are all in pretty good shape and they’ve been skating for a long time, so it’s not about getting them in shape, but for us to be able to evaluate those players…in game situations and game conditions.

“So this is not a bad thing and we’ve got enough players to alternate our roster a little bit and make sure that we don’t over utilize players as well.”

Two of those players to be “evaluated” are Manny Fernandez and Patrice Bergeron.

“I think it’s going to be great to get them back into action as quickly as we can,” he said. “They are both anxious to get into game situations.

“And for us, it will be nice to see them in our lineup.”

Health wise, both are fine, and it seems that the evaluation – if you can call it that – will be to see how they react to game conditions.

“They’ve shown that they are already pretty sharp. Bergy was almost ready at the end of the year, and Manny, was (ready) but we could not afford to put him in a playoff situation – so I think we have some healthy guys and it’s just about fine tuning them and giving them a chance to find their rhythm again.”

12:39 p.m.
Easily the most harrowing half hour in camp.

Practice ended and we all had about 20-minutes to get to the airport, which was about 25-minutes away.

My trip almost ended abruptly, but a driver of a very large truck decided to spare my life.

Thank you, Truck Driver.

Back to hockey: Andrew Bodnarchuk is NOT playing this evening.

11:14 a.m.
Just posted that release and looked up to see - Andy Bodnarchuk with Group B.

So it looks like Andy may have to wait until later in the week for a possible chance to play in front of family and friends.

10:57 a.m.

Just got this in my e-mail:

BOSTON, MA - Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that ten players have been released from the club’s training camp.

Four of the ten released players will be reporting to the Providence Bruins: Scott Fletcher, Kevin Nastiuk, Levi Nelson and Wacey Rabbit.

Three players will be returning to their respective junior teams (junior teams listed in parenthesis after name): Jamie Arniel (Sarnia), Michael Hutchinson (Barrie) and Denis Reul (Lewiston).

The final three players were invited to camp on Amateur Tryout Agreements (ATO), and are being released from those agreements: Yuri Cheremetiev, Arthur Fritch and Doug Krantz.

The remaining 45 players in Bruins camp will be departing for Halifax, NS today and will play the Montreal Canadiens in their first exhibition game of the 2008 preseason tonight at 6:00 p.m. ET.

10:52 a.m.
There is a science to choosing a good game stick.

"This is a new one right here," said Nate Thompson as he taped up his latest edition. "I always like a new twig before the game."

Thompson said it is all about feel.

"It's just kind of the feel in pregame or pregame skate," said Nate. "Which shots are going in the net and which ones aren't.

"There is a little bit of superstition, too."

The simplest determining factor -- pucks hitting twine.

"Exactly. If you are catching passes well and making passes well (that's good)," said the forward. "But the number one thing is if you are scoring and maybe put it under bar every now and then.

"You say, 'This is the one I am using, tonight.'"

10:43 a.m.

Coach Julien is treating today like it's a playoff game, too -- although he is yelling at the guys who are not playing tonight.

The Coach just tore into the B's after some mid-practice mess up on the ice.

10:26 a.m.
Just talked to Vladimir Sobotka.

He said that even though tonight is an exhibition, he is treating it like a real game.

"It's like a normal game, like during the season," said the young forward. "I am going to play at 100% and nothing changes there.

"I'm going to finish my hits, shoot it hard and play for the win."

As if he needed it, Adam McQuaid, who is from Charlottetown, PE hopes to have even more incentive tonight -- friends and family in the stands.

"I don't know how many will be there, but it's going to be nice," he said. "I think it's the closest game I've played and the closest to home I've been in a long time.

"It's going to be nice to have a chance to get some family and friends over.

"I know everyone would like to come, but it's the beginning of the week, so we'll see how many people can get off work," said Adam.

McQuaid expressed the same sentiments as Sobotka.

"Absolutely, I think everyone is going up there with that mindset," he said. "Although it's still training camp, everyone is going to go out there and work as hard as they can.

"After all with the Montreal vs. Boston rivalry, in every game, you are there representing Boston and the Bruins.

"We are going to go out there and play like it's a playoff game -- just like last year."

10:02 a.m.
Nothing earth-shattering to report after that skate and the second group should be on in a few minutes. I would assume that Group B will have a much tougher practice than the Group A.

9:32 a.m.
I am trying to document the trip via photo. So take a look at this gallery and check back throughout the day.

This morning's first session seems to be winding down, with Group A practicing their power play and Coach Julien giving last minute instruction.

8:46 a.m.
Brad Marchand is first on the ice. Andrew Ference, P. J. Axelsson and the rest of the team followed shortly thereafter.

Just like on any gameday, the purpose here is not to teach, but to warm up muscles and prepare equipment.

There is some line work going on and the d-pairs are getting acquainted, as well.

8:14 a.m.
We're on the road, True Believers (or will be in a couple of hours)...

Where are we going?
Halifax, Nova Scotia (
Halifax, the capital region of Nova Scotia, is a lively and colorful combination of urban and rural living at its best. Governor Edward Cornwallis and 2500 settlers created Canada's first permanent British town here in 1749, on the scenic shores of the world's second largest natural harbor. Beyond the harbor, the Regional Municipality stretches both south and west along the South Shore, and east through the coastal villages of the Eastern Shore and the pastoral landscape of the Musquodoboit Valley.

B's prospects Brad Marchand. Marchand and Andrew Bodnarchuk are from Halifax, and both played for the Halifax Mooseheads.

Hockey greats Sidney Crosby and Al MacInnis are also from Nova Scotia.

Where are we playing?
Boston Bruins' Aaron Ward, right, drives Montreal Canadians' Kyle Chipchura into the boards in third period pre-season NHL action at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Canada, on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007. (AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
Since opening its doors in February of 1978, Halifax Metro Centre has become a first class multi-entertainment, sports facility and exhibition centre connected to the World Trade and Convention Centre, in a strategic downtown location at the centre of metro business activity. With seating capacity in excess of 10,000, Halifax Metro Centre grew to include 11 ExecutiveSuites in September 1996 and opened 20Sky Boxes and a VIP lounge in January 1998 marking the 20th anniversary of the facility. The Halifax Metro Centre is home to the QMJHL’S Halifax Mooseheads.

Who are we playing?
The Montreal Canadiens are one of the founding Original Six members of the NHL. The franchise is officially known as the Le Club de Hockey Canadien. Founded in 1909, eight years before the founding of the NHL, the Canadiens are oldest continuously operating club in the league, and they have won more Stanley Cups than any other team in the NHL (24). The Canadiens have many French nicknames, but their most common nickname is the Habs, coming from “Les Habitants.”

Ran into a Bruins staffer in the parking lot this morning and had the following conversation…

Staffer: How was your summer?
Bish: Quick. But let’s hope next summer is even quicker.
Staffer: Let’s hope so. Let’s hope so.

If you don’t get it, just think about the timing of the NHL Playoffs.

In any case, it was really good to run into a couple of Bruins people (including Martins Karsums) and then get into Ristuccia Arena to start typing.

Just 10-minutes ago, I was sitting at a local fast food joint (first mistake), picking at the remnants of my cheap breakfast (second mistake) and listening to someone singing “Baby Got Blue Eyes” on the restaurant’s PA (final straw).

Nothing says “depressing” like listening to “Baby Got Blue Eyes” by yourself in a fast food joint under overcast skies when you are about to be away from your family and friends -- a tough way to start the day, so let’s start over.

The reason I am in an empty hockey rink at this early hour is that the Bruins have an early morning skate for the squad that will play tonight against the Canadiens. So, presumably, most of Group A and perhaps a couple extras, will be skating in about 45-minutes.

Group A should consist of…
Andrew Alberts, P.J. Axelsson, Patrice Bergeron, Byron Bitz, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, Manny Fernandez, Shane Hnidy, Phil Kessel, Chuck Kobasew, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Kevin Nastiuk, Jeff Penner, Kevin Regan, Jeremy Reich, Maxime Sauve, Vladimir Sobotka, Ryan Stokes, Marco Sturm, Nate Thompson, Shawn Thornton.

Tonight, Halifax should be treated to the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Manny Fernandez and the Haligonians (Bodnarchuk and Marchand). Nice!

Speaking of Halifax, David writes in with the following synopsis of the extracurricular activities available up north.

Hey Bish,
Here's a short list of some top restaurants and evening spots. I spent many years at Saint Mary's University here and am now am back after a short relocation to Edmonton---just in time to see my boys training camp!

For upscale dining in Halifax, I would highly suggest:
  • Seven, Incredible atmosphere, food and service. They’ve won many awards, including a recent distinction for Best Steak in Halifax. Also, plenty of seafood.
  • Cut separated into a Steakhouse and Urban Grill, another quality establishment.
  • Hamachi House has two locations, one specializing in Grill, and the other in Sushi. Definitely check out the Steakhouse, where I would highly recommend booking a "Teppan Table".
  • Gio offers "cutting edge" fine dining with unique and well-crafted dishes.

Other great restaurants include:
Bish (yes, there is a great restaurant named Bish), Fid, Il Mercato, and The Keg.

Other hot spots that I'd be sure to check out:
  • Mosaic, which is a very hip bar.
  • The Bitter End, is another great establishment, and usually very busy.
  • The Economy Shoe Shop, More casual than the first two, but an incredible atmosphere, always packed and food served until 2am.

For a night of partying:
The Argyle, for their rooftop patio on a Thursday night and The Palace, Pacifico, The Pogue and The Dome.

Thanks David!

You might recognize the lead into today from last year at this time. For a reminder of what Halifax looked like last season, click here.
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