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Pregame Notebook vs. New Jersey

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins
BOSTON – And the winner is…the Montreal Canadiens. But facing the streaking Boston Bruins is no great pize for the Habs, to be sure.

After all the hoopla surrounding the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Black & Gold now know who their first round playoff opponent will be, and like any great drama, they’ll face their hated arch rivals the bleu, blanc et rouge.

The Bruins and Montreal have squared off 32 times in postseason throughout their histories. The Canadiens have bested the Bruins, winning 24 of those series, including four of the last six.  But the last time these two teams met in the postseason was 2009 when the Bruins unceremoniously swept Montreal from the playoffs.

However, Montreal had Boston’s number this season, going 4-2-0 against Boston. The B's victories came in an 8-6 fight filled contest on Feb. 9, and a 7-0 offensive explosion on March 24.

But before the B’s can begin to think about taking on the speedy Canadiens, they have another game to play.

This afternoon, the Bruins will square-off against the New Jersey Devils in the final regular season game for both squads.

Although neither team has playoff implications riding on today’s final score—the Devils failed to make the postseason despite a late run—overall record and pride are on the line. 

Move Over Hasek?
With his 31 saves on 32 shots in yesterday afternoon’s 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators, Thomas inched even closer to setting a regular season record for save percentage.

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, left, makes a stick save as Ottawa Senators' Milan Mihalek looks for a rebound during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, April 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Thomas’ current save percentage sits at .9382. The record is .9366, set by Dominik Hasek in the 1998-99 season.

“That’s what it went up to? Okay because was it .9376 before?” Thomas said when he was told his save percentage following the game.

“Yeah, well that’s great. That’s awesome. But there’s one more game. We have to, as a team we have to focus on taking care of business tomorrow and I’m part of that. And so I’ll really, I’ll reflect on it really once the season’s over a little bit more than I am right now.

Technically, Thomas doesn’t hold the record just yet, as the Bruins will play once more today. But Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said after yesterday’s game that Tuukka Rask will make the start in net today.

In any case, Thomas pointed to the Bruins locker room for the reasons behind his record-setting year.

“That number a testament to the team in front of me and the way that they battled for me all year long, defensemen and forwards,” he said.

While Thomas hands credit for his success to the guys that skate in front of him, his teammates and coach return the favor and credit their No. 1 goaltender for much of their success this season.

So, the record was a reward the Bruins wished to attain for Thomas.

“Well he’s had a good year for us and I think deep down it seemed to matter to him so it was important for the rest of our team to help him through it and play as best as they could,” Julien said.

“He made some great saves again tonight for us, but I think, for the rest of the team, I think they really wanted him to get that, so it’s done and over and we can turn the page to move on.”

Horton becomes Walk Ambassador for Lupus research
This June, the Bruins forward will serve as the 2011 Boston Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) Ambassador in their “Walk with Us to Cure Lupus” walkathon.
The endeavor comes as the Boston Bruins Foundation has partnered with ALR by donating $20,000 to the walkathon, which will take place on Saturday, June 11 at Castle Island in South Boston.
“It’s a scary thing,” Horton said of lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes a person’s immune system to attack their body.
“There‘s no cure for it and it’s a range of a lot of things [that] can happen.”
Thursday night, Horton, whose wife had symptoms of lupus during her pregnancy with their son, took part in the Kickoff Reception at the Budweiser Legends Club in TD Garden, where he and about 100 fellow walkers and supporters celebrated the event.

“It’s definitely nice,” Horton said of meeting others participating in the event. “It’s tough when you hear about it, but it’s nice to try to help out and do as much as a I can.”

The Boston Walk with Us to Cure Lupus event in a 5k (3.1 miles) walk that is designed to raise significant funds and awareness for the quest for a cure for lupus.
All walkers are encouraged to raise as much money as possible in support of their participation in the walk. Bruins fans can support Horton in the event by texting “WALK” to 85944 to make a $10 donation.
The ALR, founded in 1999 through the vision and commitment of Robert Wood Johnson IV, chairman of the New York Jets, has a fundraising goal of $110,000 this year.

Seguin makes a statement
Boston Bruins forward Tyler Seguin is the youngest on the roster at just 19-years-old.  With just a single NHL season under his belt, and Montreal and a long road the Stanley Cup on the horizon for the B’s, it’s not clear whether or not the youngest Bruin will see much time on ice in the postseason.

New York Rangers' Steve Eminger (44) covers Boston Bruins' Tyler Seguin (19) during the second period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden, in New York, Monday, April 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)
Seguin made his return to the line-up yesterday after being a healthy scratch the previous contest, and made a bid for himself to be in the postseason line-up.

Skating between Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand in Patrice Bergeron’s spot, as the center had the night off for maintenance, Seguin combined his speed and newly introduced physical play to make his last push to play in the postseason.

“I thought I played good but I finished minus one, which is something I’m not too happy about. I thought our line played good,” Seguin said.

“Obviously, I was taking Bergy’s spot there and I thought we had our chances and didn’t quite get the bounces and capitalize tonight, but I thought our chances were there. “

The defensive aspect of his game is something Seguin will have to continue to work on as he grows into what he hopes will be an elite NHL forward.

“Anybody who has watched him play knows he needs to grow and that’s going to come with experience and with time and we’re willing to give him that. But I think right now it’s about giving him that opportunity,” Julien said.

As for whether or not he’ll see ice time in the playoffs, Seguin is more concerned about today’s game.

“I don’t want to think so much, I just want to finish off strong. Whether that was my last game before playoffs or tomorrow is, I don’t know if I’m playing or not obviously,” Seguin said.

“I just want to finish off strong, work my hardest, and get some extra confidence to go into the playoffs in case I do get in or start or whatever may be, just so I’m ready.

“Obviously, I want to play every game and help the team out any way I can. “

Seguin is expected to play on Sunday as Julien announced yesterday that the club would leave Recchi, along with Zdeno Chara, behind as they travel to New Jersey.

Profile: Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien
Claude Julien is in his fourth season behind the Boston bench, having been named the 28th head coach in team history on June 21, 2007.

He has led the Bruins to a steady improvement in his three seasons behind the bench with a 133-78-35 regular season record and .612 win percentage in that span.

His teams have advanced to the playoffs in each of his years behind the Boston bench and have gone on to second-round play in each of the last two post-seasons, which were their first consecutive second-round berths since 1991 and 1992.

Julien joined the Bruins with ten years of coaching experience at the junior hockey, AHL and NHL levels in addition to a 12-year professional playing career.

He began his coaching career in 1996 with the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and he led that team for four seasons, compiling a 141-109-16 record and .560 win percentage in 266 regular season games.

His Hull teams made the playoffs in each of his seasons behind the bench and he won a Memorial Cup championship with the Olympiques in 1996-97.

Julien coached his first full NHL season in Montreal in 2003-04, leading the Canadiens to their best record in ten years with 93 points and also coached them to a first round upset victory over the Bruins in the 2004 playoffs.

He then moved on to coach the Devils where he compiled a 47-24-8 record leading the team to winning the Atlantic Division 2006-07.
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