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Pregame Notebook vs. Carolina

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins - The Boston Bruins will take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in the first game of the post-All-Star portion of the schedule.

Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara (33) of Slovakia; Brad Marchand (63); Patrice Bergeron, rear; and Mark Recchi celebrate Marchand's goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011. Boston won 3-2. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
The Bruins enter the RBC center tonight ready for some regular season action after the city of Raleigh, NC and the Carolina Hurricanes played host to B’s Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin, as well as the rest of the NHL All-Stars, this past weekend.

Boston (28-15-17) comes into the night on top of the Northeast Division, leading the Montreal Canadiens by four points, and third in the Eastern Conference with 63 points. 

Carolina is fourth in the Southeast Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference with 57 points. The Hurricanes are just one point out of play-off contention, trailing the eighth place Atlanta Thrashers. 

The Bruins will look to start of the second portion of the season strong with a win against a Carolina franchise that has typically played well in the second half of the season.

“Yeah they’re a fast team and they’re a good team you know. They’re dangerous and you gotta be on your toes and ready to match them,” Thomas said of the Canes.

“Every game is important in the NHL for the two points and you know you gotta a team like Carolina who does have a tradition of being strong in the last half of the season and they’re trying to work their way up the line-up.

“At the same time we’ll be looking to get the two points to keep them down on Tuesday.”

B’s Stars Shine at All-Stars
Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin made the trip down to Raleigh, NC this past weekend to participate in the NHL All-Star festivities.

Chara (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Not only did the B’s stars participate, they represented the Bruins well and came away with a few honors.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara won the SuperSkills Hardest Shot competition for the fourth consecutive year, blasting a record-breaking 105.4 mph slapper.  

“I wasn’t really feeling that great tonight, but thanks to the fans, they really got me going,” Chara said to VERSUS after the competition.

Seguin joined Chara in competing for the hardest shot crown and won his round with a 97.1 mph goal, picking up a point for Team Staal.

Chara and Seguin both contributed to Team Staal’s 33-22 point SuperSkills victory over Team Lidstrom.

It was Team Lidstrom and Tim Thomas, however, that won the All-Star game on Sunday afternoon by a score of 11-10.  Thomas tended goal in the third period and picked up his third All-Star game victory, also setting an All-Star record. 
His third consecutive All-Star win set an NHL record.

“I don’t think people are checking out All-Star records but it definitely meant something to me,” Thomas said.

“I was hoping to play the third period so that I would be in position to get that on your record because you have the best chance you know if you play the third period.

“But having said that, it got to be nerve wracking because I didn’t want to lose the game for the team either,” he said.

No matter the final score or winning team, the Bruins’ All-Stars were happy to represent the Bruins among the NHL’s elite.

“I mean it’s nice when you can represent your team and it’s just shows a professional standards for our hockey team and you know even at the All-Star we take it pretty seriously sometimes,” said Chara.

“You know it’s one of those things where even though it’s fun you still have to be professional and you know, play well and represent your team and represent yourself.”

Bergeron is first star of January
The NHL announced yesterday that Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was awarded First Star of the Month honors for the month of January.

Bergeron (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
In the month of January Bergeron led the league with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) and had a plus-13 rating in the B’s 14 contests.

“Well I think you know it’s well deserved,” Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said after today’s team practice.

“He’s a guy that flies under the radar because you know he’s one of those great two way players that doesn’t get the acknowledgement that maybe highly skilled one-dimensional players will get but you know he is able to do everything.”

Bergeron has a streak of four consecutive multiple-point-games in the month.  He also posted his first career NHL hat trick on Jan. 11 in the Bruins 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.

“Yeah I mean it’s a huge honor,” Bergeron said. “A lot of credit to my linemates.”

For a large portion of the month Bergeron was centering rookie Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi, which quickly became the B’s top producing line.

“You know (he’s able to) score some goals, score some points he’s great at the other end of the ice and it was great to see him get that recognition because he had an outstanding month,” Julien said.

Bergeron was also named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week for the week ending January 16.

The 25-year-old forward leads the Bruins in scoring with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 50 games.
The Boston Bruins Foundation will donate $1,000 in Bergeron’s name to the children’s charity of his choice.”

The second and third stars of the month were Keith Yandle, a defenseman for the Phoenix Coyotes and Pekka Rinne, a goalie for the Nashville Predators, respectively. 

Coach Julien Looks for Consistency
The Bruins rolled into the All-Star break with a 2-1 win in TD Garden on Wednesday night over the Florida Panthers. 
Boston has a 7-3-0 record in the last ten games but is still looking to improve down the stretch of the season.

Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien called for consistency down the stretch, something the Bruins will have to maintain in order to make a playoff run and host springtime hockey in TD Garden.  

“We’re getting there. I think we still want to improve, we know we have to get better,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said after last Wednesday’s game. 

“We tend to forget sometimes the schedule, the travel and everything else, and it catches up to you. 

“These guys aren’t machines, they’re not robots, they’re humans. So I think that the bottom line is that we want to get a little bit of consistency,” he said.

Boston opens the post-All-Star portion of their schedule tonight in Carolina but then returns to TD Garden for a four-game home stand.

---Hannah Becker
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