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Training Camp: Our Boys are Back

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.

4:28 p.m.
Following the rookie practice, Jim Benning spoke to the media:

Bruins Assistant General Manager Jim Benning
On improving players through Development Camp to Training Camp…
We met with all of them after Development Camp, and we explained to them,just do what you do best, but try to be the very best at it.  As an example, Jeff Penner, at Development Camp, you know, he was at 195 pounds, and he wanted to be bigger and stronger, but in doing that, he lost some of his quickness, some of his transitional game, so we had a good talk with him about, you've got to do what you're going to do best, and that's to be quick and fast and get the puck moving.  And he came 10 pounds lighter, and he's quicker and faster, and he's able to do the things that he's good at, and he's better at them.  And I think all of our players, like our bigger forwards, like Blake Wheeler, we want them taking the puck to the net and using their size and strength to get to the net, and so far in camp, they've shown that.  You only have the rookies in for two to three days, so that Development Camp makes up for the lack of training camp now.

4:21 p.m.

Some tidbits from Coach following the practice sessions:

Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien
On practice today…
It wasn’t bad at all actually...The guys competed, and for a first day, I’ve got to say I’m pretty happy with what I saw.

On Marc Savard and Michael Ryder’s chemistry…
I don’t think I paid any enormous amount of attention.  I just put them together, as we do with different lines, but I think everybody noticed that Michael likes to shoot the puck and Savvy likes to get it.  But sometimes that can be a little too much, if that’s all you think of.  So you’ve got to be a little more creative, and we always encourage a guy like Savvy to shoot a little more.  But having said that, I thought they were pretty good, and there was a pretty good left-winger on their line, too [Lucic].

On what he looks for in a line…
There’s got to be chemistry.  Guys have to read off each other well, and sometimes the obvious doesn’t work out, and sometimes something you never expected works out.

On starting Manny Fernandez this coming Monday…
What went through my mind was, let’s not prolong this any longer, let’s get him into action right away and give him a chance to get himself back into game shape and used to playing games again.  We sort of thought the first game would be a good time for him, and then [Tim Thomas] and him and Tuukka [Rask] and [Kevin] Nastiuk will all have an opportunity to play some games.  A lot of it will, in Tuukka’s case, depend on his play, and Tim and Manny, we want to make sure that they’re ready for the start of the season.

On having Patrice Bergeron back…
Everybody would have loved to see him last year also, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case, but probably the biggest thing I take from it is that we’ve got a guy who’s healthy and who’s passed that test.  That’s the most important thing, and after having said that, now you’ve got yourself a pretty good hockey player as well.

4:08 p.m.

Notes and quotes from Team A's session:

Bruins Forward Michael Ryder

On the difference in not seeing the Canadiens jerseys…
I saw one, one Ryder Montreal jersey.  But yeah, it’s a little different, it’ll take a couple days to get adjusted, but it’s good to be here and I’m just excited to get started.

On Marc Savard
Savvy likes to dish pucks, that’s for sure, so I’m going to have to get used to someone who’s willing to pass a lot.  It’s good, a couple times in practice he caught me off-guard, but it shouldn’t take that long to get back into the game, playing with him and [Milan] Lucic.

On the appeal of signing with the Bruins…
I’d seen the way they played in the playoffs, and I liked their style, and I thought that the way they played would be a really good fit for me.  I had a couple of other options, but I thought this was the best one that I could fit into and fit into their system and play well.

Bruins Defenseman Matt Lashoff
On the first day of camp…
It’s good to get it started.  It starts yesterday with the testing and medicals and everything, and it’s good to get that day, not so much out of the way, but under your belt.  I think it’s the same thing with the first day of skating and getting out there and finally getting serious with things and getting to hit some guys, instead of the stuff we’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks.  I think the guys have a good energy about them.

On the crowd at camp…
There’s always people here during training camp, which is awesome.  It’s a testament to the spirit of hockey around here and the fan base, so it’s fun to have people come in and watch the training camp, which is always a different experience for the fans, too.  It’s not the norm.

Bruins Forward Marc Savard
On playing with Michael Ryder…
He said out there today, which I like to hear: “I don’t want to have the puck, I want to give it to you, and then go to the net.”  I think it’s going to be really good, and I’m excited.  When you’ve got someone with a big scorer stature, and you’re also scoring, [chemistry] comes pretty quick.

On a hard hit to his foot during practice…
I took a slapper there off my toe, but I think it’s because I was standing over there in front of the net.  But no, it’s all fun.

3:35 p.m.
Notes and quotes from Team A's session:

Bruins Defenseman Zdeno Chara
On his trip to Africa this summer with Right to Play...
It was a great experience and I was very glad to be a part of it. Hopefully we can raise as much as possible and continue to help those who need it the most. There are certainly places that have many more needs than we do here and sometimes it takes a trip to see those people in person to really understand how much you have and how much those people need our help.

On his health...
I feel good condition-wise, but I’m obviously not 100 percent yet. I’m not able to do everything that I would like to, but I’m going to take my time and keep working on getting healthier every day.

On the growing trend of early camp arrivals...
It’s no longer like it used to be. Guys used to get in to camp only a couple days before it started. Now guys are getting in here 2-3 weeks before camp starts because they know that they only have a few days of [official camp] practices before we have our first preseason game.

Bruins Forward Patrice Bergeron
On any remaining doubts about his prior injuries...
No I don’t feel I need to prove anything to myself. I worked very hard to get my strength back over the summer and I felt really good out there today for our first practice.

On the outlook for this season’s roster...
I’m very optimistic about our team. I was even [optimistic] before getting in here for training camp. We have a pretty similar roster, and with the additions we made over the summer, I’m very excited and happy to get started. I know there’s a lot of talent in this room so it’s a matter of putting it together on the ice.

Bruins Forward Marco Sturm
On the beginning of a new season...
It’s been a long summer and it’s always to get back in here and get going again. It’s nice to get adjusted again to the [Garden] ice and we’re really excited to take it to the next level this year.

On Bergeron’s return to the team...
It’s great to have Bergeron back out there. He’s an awesome guy and an awesome player. We’re all excited to have him back, and he makes a big difference. It doesn’t matter where you put him on the ice because he’s so versatile. He’s a great, solid player, who we can put anywhere out there to help us win.

Bruins Forward P. J. Axelsson
On the way opposing teams view has changed of the Bruins...
I think they are very high right now. At the same time, last year we weren’t supposed to be very good so we took some teams by surprise. This year that won’t happen so we need to take that next step and be better this year to be successful.

On the longevity of his career in Boston...
I’ve been lucky to be in a place like this for this long, especially since it doesn’t happen as often anymore these days. I’ve had a real good time here over the years and I’ve played with some pretty good teams and some great teammates.

Bruins Goalie Manny Fernandez
On the team’s preseason goalie plans...
I will be starting the first [preseason] game against Montreal. After that, it’s pretty much on a need to know basis with me from here on out. There’s no sense in waiting to get back out on the ice, so it will be nice to get the nerves out of the way right off the bat.

On getting his game back...
I don’t want to look ahead too much at this point. I’m going to focus on every day, one at a time, and focus on what I can do now to get better and go from there. If I start to look at the big picture and start worrying about giving up goals, then I’ll get away from my main goal, which is to get my game back as quickly as possible.

2:04 p.m.
[Gallery] Some breaking news from the locker room session after the first group's ice time:  Manny Fernandez, who played only four games last season before succumbing to a knee injury, will start Monday night's pre-season game against the Habs in Halifax. 

More on that later…

Team B is: Johnny Boychuk, Mike Egener, Zach Hamill, Matt Hunwick, Martins Karsums, Jordan Knackstedt, Matt Lashoff, Mikko Lehtonen, Milan Lucic, Matt Marquardt, Petteri Nokelainen, Tuukka Rask, Michael Ryder, Martin St. Pierre, Marc Savard, Peter Schaefer, Mark Stuart, Tim Thomas, Aaron Ward, Blake Wheeler, Dennis Wideman, Stephane Yelle

A few quick highlights from session two:
Michael Ryder and Matt Lashoff each had nice goals in one-on-one battle drills. Ryder's elicited cheers from the crowd.
A little bit later, in a different drill, Ryder wiped out by the boards, falling onto his stomach, but managed to keep control of the puck, hop back up and pass it off to another teammate.

One shot (from Matt Lashoff) put the puck straight into Tim Thomas' stomach, knocking him backwards into the net, and almost onto the ice. Looked like it hurt, but Tim was up quickly and seemed to have no complaint -- he saved it, after all.

In a scramble for the puck behind Timmy's net, Matt Marquardt slammed Jordan Knackstadt into the boards.  Not to be outdone, however, Knackstadt retaliated – but on Mike Egener, who then got a hit of his own in on Knackstadt.

12:09 p.m.
[Gallery] The on-ice portion of the Bruins full 2008-09 Training Camp opened up this morning at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. 57 players are attending the camp and the squad has been divided into three different teams and Team A took the ice from 10:00 a.m. to approximately 11:45 a.m. ET.

Team A is: 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.

The sight of Patrice Bergeron walking onto the ice was, as expected, accompanied by a loud round of cheers from the crowd gathered in the stands.  Bergeron didn’t hesitate to take part in his fair share of hits, either – nor did any of the other players, who made it a very physical, board-rattling time.

Much of the Bruins front office watched from the stands of the Garden where head coach Claude Julien put his team through its paces through a fast-paced session.

Regan (the first Bruins player on the Garden ice), Nastiuk (late of the Carolina organization and still wearing a black and red mask) and Fernandez all saw plenty of shots throughout the morning.

Manny looked sharp and took most of the reps in his end of the ice.

Youngsters like Regan, Sauve, Marchand and McQuaid did not look out of place as they took their turns during drills and instruction.

In typical P.J. Axelsson fashion, the left-winger celebrated a goal with a one-foot’d skate back to the bench, both hands raised victoriously in the air – and a grin from ear to ear on his face.

Many of the younger B’s fans in attendance were eager to find a memento of the day, scrambling after the pucks that were flipped over the boards and waiting eagerly by the walkway to the ice for autographs.

Group two takes the ice in about 15 minutes, followed by the rookies at 2:30.

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