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Pregame Notebook vs. Dallas

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON – Tonight in TD Garden the Boston Bruins will square off against the Dallas Stars for a Western Conference match-up, which kicks off a home stand for the Black & Gold.

The Bruins and Stars are each at the top of their respective divisions with the Bruins leading the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division by just two points after the Habs held on for a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers last night. The Stars lead the San Jose Sharks, the B’s next opponent, by five points in the Pacific Division.

Both teams enter tonight’s match-up on a roll. The Bruins are 7-3-0 in their last ten games while Dallas is just a notch behind with a 6-3-1 record in their previous ten. 

After an off-ice workout at TD Garden on Wednesday, the Bruins enter tonight’s contest ready to step up the energy for the skate down the final stretch of the season.

"Right now, we’ve got all the [big] games coming in and we’ve got no breaks," said forward Daniel Paille. "All we need to do is focus on hockey and continue what we’re doing now."
Four-game Homestand
Thomas deflects a shot during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Boston won 3-2. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
The Bruins opened their post-All-Star schedule on Monday with a 3-2 road win in Carolina, but now return home for four consecutive contests in TD Garden. 

Although Boston is 13-9-3 at home, while boasting a 16-6-4 road record, the B’s are looking forward to the home tilts, beginning with tonight.

“I’ve seen them play a couple times. Obviously they got a great lineup. They got a lot of firepower up front and they also got a lot of great D,” B’s left-winger Milan Lucic said after the team’s workout yesterday.

“So they’re a good team, they can make you pay in a lot of ways. For us, we got to take that as a challenge.”

Following tonight’s game with Dallas, Boston will face another Western Conference foe in the San Jose Sharks on Saturday before jumping into Division play with Montreal on Wednesday.

The Bruins will finish up their home stand against Detroit next Friday. 

“They’re going to be tough games…Dallas is having a pretty good year and San Jose is a good team right now that’s fighting to hold on to a play-off spot,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said yesterday.

“Montreal, as you know, is always a challenge in of itself.  

“So you know we’ve got a tough home stand here and again probably not a bad thing for our hockey club, we need to get consistency, we need to make sure we work hard every night.”

Thomas named one of the ECAC’s Top 50 players
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has another accomplishment to add to his already outstanding resume, as he was recently named one of the ECAC’s (Eastern College Athletic Conference) Top 50 players of All-Time.

Thomas played four seasons in the ECAC, from 1993-1997, at the University of Vermont, now a member of the Hockey East conference.

While backstopping the Catamounts, Thomas accumulated an 81-43-15 record with a 2.70 goals against average and nine shutouts through 140 career games.

In 1996 Thomas led the Green & Gold to the NCAA Frozen Four with a 26-7-4 record and a 2.34 GAA. That season, he also received ECAC Goaltender of the Years Honors.

Although Thomas has long moved on from the Burlington, Vt. campus of UVM, his continued accomplishments remain a proud topic in and around Gutterson Fieldhouse. 

The ECAC released its Top 50 Players list as a celebration of its 50th anniversary.

As Krejci Goes...
Boston Bruins Horton (18), Krejci (46) and Lucic (17) celebrate Horton's goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Boston won 3-2. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Although Bruins forward and NHL’s First Star of January, Patrice Bergeron, leads the Bruins in scoring, B’s center David Krejci may be the key to the team’s offensive success going forward. 

Krejci, who was recently reunited with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton on the B’s first line after Marc Savard suffered his second concussion in less than a year on Jan. 22, has nine assists in his last ten games, and was a big part of breaking both Lucic and Horton out of scoring slumps. 

“Well I think David Krejci’s game is important to our team more than just [Horton] but you’re right, he gives him a nice set up.  Nathan, in tight, did a great job of lifting that puck up,” Julien said of Krejci’s assist on Horton’s goal Tuesday night—his first in 11 games.  

Krejci has 7-27-34 totals through 44 games this season with a plus-12 rating. In addition to 10 multiple-point games he had a four-game assist streak from Oct. 9-19 (1-5-6 totals), at a time when his line with Lucic and Horton was the B’s top-producing trio. 

“David’s, as you know in the past, has always been a key to our team’s success,” Julien said yesterday.  “Whether it’s been Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] or Savvy [Marc Savard] that’s gone down he’s upped his game and has made a world of difference for this hockey club and he knows that.”

“I think the better he plays, the better the team is because he’s that good a player.”

Black & Gold Excited for Final Stretch
Although it’s not the official halfway point of the NHL season, the All-Star break presents teams with a chance to take a few days off to relax, reflect and get ready for the unofficial "second half."

“I think everyone’s really excited to get back after the All-Star break and get back after it," Bruins winger Blake Wheeler said yesterday. "We've got 30 games left here down the stretch and you know it’s a lot of games in sort of a short period of time.

“But you know that’s the way the schedule is for everyone and you know it’s, you just have to keep your focus and keep doing the things we’ve been doing lately.”

Boston knows this final stretch is where every team is pushing for a play-off spot and each game moves up a notch in the level of competitiveness and although the B’s sit first in the division and third in the conference, they’re not going to let up any time soon. 

“You want to be in first place you know, and that’s something that we’ve built up to this point but at the same time there’s still two teams in front of us that ultimately you know you’re always looking up,” Wheeler said. “We’re not first in the conference or anything like that so that’s always everyone’s goal, to finish first in your conference.  

“And you know we’re always going to be shooting for those teams in front of us and if we’re playing with that mind set then you know that’s going to kind of keep the guys behind us, behind us as well.”

---Hannah Becker
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