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Pittsburgh vs. Boston

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
First observation of  the day:

I have never seen Milan Lucic without at least a hint of a smile on his face.
Quick paced morning, folks. I can't believe it's already lunch time.

Some good news: Andrew Alberts was hanging around and is obviously feeling better, but will not play tonight.

Some better news: Tim Thomas is feeling MUCH better and will definitely play tonight.

"It wasn't that bad of a break because the team was doing well," said Thomas, who looked anxious to play. "Personally, you just want to get back in there and do your job and do what you do best."

Rob Simpson of NESN made the comment that the Penguins present a good test for the 33 year old netminder.

"Yah, they are a good team and a dangerous team," agreed Thomas. "There are a lot of dangerous teams in the NHL, but this is one of the most dangerous."

Asked if he learned anything from his time in the press box, Thomas said he had, but that there were limitations to that knowledge.

"It's (helpful) to a certain extent," said Thomas. "But you can over analyze, too."

And in the end, winning is the main objective, no matter how much study or rest you get.

"I think that as a team it's as important to do well these last three games (before Christmas break) and get as many points as possible."

And count Timmy amongst those who discount the importance of the first shot in the game.

"All of the shots are just as important as the first," said Tim.

I'll toast the PB & J to that...

The best news from this morning: Marco Sturm, Marc Savard, Peter Schaefer and Andrew Ference were not at pregame practice (which was optional), but are doing fine and should play tonight. Schaefer, in particular, had also missed yesterday.
Claude Julien
3:27 p.m.
Some more from this morning's press scrum with Claude Julien. JB

On the young talent of Pittsburgh…
"Young talent is the first thing that comes to mind. They keep getting better every year. Maybe to their standards they are not where they want to be, but they are still a very dangerous team. They are a team you have to respect, especially on the attack. They have great speed through the neutral zone. They come at you hard."
On Sidney Crosby…
"He has worked magic against me in the past, and other for the right side when I had him at the World Championships. So I got to know him a little better and he is the complete package when it comes to on ice and off ice. There is no such thing as a half effort when it comes to him being on the ice whether its practice or games. Those are players you like to build around. We know that, we know what we have to do against them.  He's not the only one on that hockey club they have a lot of depth when it comes to those players."
On what the team needs to get on winning track…
"Right now it is a matter of playing that old 60-minute game that everyone is talking about. When you can play 20 minutes a certain way there is no reason you can't play a whole game that way. That's what we didn't do the other night. We have to find ways to keep our focus and keep our intensity up for 60 minutes. I think that's the key to tonight's game."
On condition of Andrew Alberts…
"It is a day-to-day situation. This morning he was feeling a lot better. Those are all positive signs. He is not going to play tonight.  But certainly there is some progress in his situation."

4:40 p.m.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking to Petteri Nokelainen about the art of tipping pucks in front of the net.

At one point he stood in front of a net trying to tip Zdeno Chara's shots into the goal.

"I guess it's just good practice," said the rookie. "There's not going to be any slap shots that are any harder.

"So why not."

The 'Why Not?' is obvious -- Chara has the hardest slapper in the league. And don't think that Pettri was not aware of the danger. A sheepish look and a request for pucks to shot lower were clear from the stands.

"I (motioned for him) to shoot a little lower," said Noke. "I don't want to lose my teeth.

"You (might) lose your teeth at some point, but I don't want to lose them now."

Smart rookie, eh?

5:30 p.m. reports (via the Tribune Review):
"Evgeni Malkin skated on the left side of a line centered by Sidney Crosby and also featuring right wing Colby Armstrong during the Penguins' practice at Boston University's Agganis Arena on Wednesday. The re-teaming of Malkin and Crosby was done at least in part because Ryan Malone returned to Pittsburgh for further evaluation on a leg wound. The infection resulted in the flu-like symptoms that forced Malone to miss his first game of the season, against the Rangers on Tuesday in New York. Malone is not expected to play against the Bruins in Boston Thursday or against the New York Islanders at Mellon Arena on Friday."

5:45 p.m.
Hey! Just got some info on a nice thing we can all help out with...
"The Boston Bruins and Cradles to Crayons, are gearing up for winter and you can help! With over 400,000 children living in low-income or homeless situations this winter, the Boston Bruins and Cradles to Crayons are collecting new and slightly used coats and winter gear for those in need. On Thursday, January 3rd and Saturday, January 5th, the Bruins will collect donations at the turnstiles and the Boston Bruins Foundation table on the main concourse. Remember fans, the Wives' Carnival is January 6th with proceeds benefiting Cradles to Crayons."

6:40 p.m.
This what we look like:
Ference-Chara (sg) Thomas
Stuart-Wideman (bg) Auld
Allen-Ward Go Bruins!

6:52 p.m.
Good to see Patrice on NESN! Not too much doin' up on Level 9, folks. I am transferring the flag to the Running Recap. Go Bruins!
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