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Tuesday's Tune-up

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
4:17 p.m.

Tuukka's Temper?
Bitz (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
After practice, I asked Bruins forward Byron Bitz if his "issue" with goalie Tuukka Rask was over.

Yes, he said, but "it'll come back. We have a little feud."


"Yah, I mean, he doesn't like to let that last goal in," explained Bitz with a chuckle. "And I like giving it to him when I score on him."

I didn't press the "issue" with Rask, but the subject of Tuukka's hatred for letting in goals trickled into Coach Julien's presser.

"From two years ago until now, he's really matured into his role," said Julien. "You see him working hard in practice."

And recently, Rask has shown more of the fire -- manifested in a revulsion to letting in goals -- that Tim Thomas traditionally shows, as well.

"I liked his game in Philadelphia," said Julien. "He played extremely well against a pretty good hockey club and allowed us to get at least a point.

"And his reaction after the shootout was one that you don't mind seeing.

"He was livid," continued Julien. "It just shows that he cares and that he wanted to win that game pretty bad."

"He's built some character along the way."

Rask became a famous character last season when he became livid after a shootout goal that ended one of Providence's games -- the infamous crate throwing incident in the Dunk.

As he protested what he saw as a non-goal, Rask grabbed the nearest thing to him in the runway to the locker room, and, having already helicoptered his stick across the rink, hand-grenaded a milk crate over the boards and onto the ice.

Julien referenced the act, not in praise of the action, but in praise for the sentiment. Rask, who had previously been seen to possess ice water in his veins, had shown emotion.

"I don't know if it started with last year's throwing the crate, but something happened along the way," said Julien to the delight of the gathered press.

11:25 a.m.
The Bruins are working on one-on-one drills this morning.

Julien spoke about the B's (somewhat) new-found dynamic -- speed -- after practice on Monday and said that he really liked the mph element in his newcomers.

"As far as even putting pressure down ice, and everything else,  [Daniel] Paille was already a good penalty killer in Buffalo, we liked him in that role," said Julien.

"[Brad] Marchand, just watching him, even in practice, that [first] day he was one of our best penalty killers and that power play practice," continued the coach. "We figured with his speed and his tenacity he could probably be a good addition too."

11:14 a.m.
Daniel Paille is back on the ice after what sounded like a moving day on Monday.

"Yeah, he went back home to [Buffalo]," said Coach Julien, yesterday. "He came with a suitcase from Florida, so we thought we’d send him home to get the rest of his stuff."

11:07 a.m.
On Thursday, October 29, the Boston Bruins will hold their second "Bru Fest" of the 2009-10 season presented by Boston’s own Samuel Adams brewery in the East Lot of the TD Garden (100 Legends Way, Boston, MA 02114).

The outdoor festivities begin at 4:30, the event is free and open to Bruins fans ages 21 and over with a ticket to the Bruins/Devils game. Samuel Adams will be featuring a selection of their most popular products including Samuel Adams Seasonal and Boston Lager.  Space for the event will be limited and fans are encouraged to arrive more.

10:34 a.m.

So I got the scoop on the fight of the century. It seems there might, at least initially, been a little "malice" attached to the great Bitz vs. Rask "tete-a-tete" at the end of Monday's practice.

So yesterday, when I was in the locker room, I got both sides of the story.

"It's the last shot of the day," explained Byron. "I tipped it in.

"Tuukka did not like that.

"So he took a swipe at me. And I took a swipe at him and [insert dramatic pause] we started laughing," he said.

Rask told a similar version.

"You wanna know what happened?" asked Rask. I answered in the positive.

"I was actually [giving Bitz heck] before that goal, though," he said. "He always runs us over.

"I mean, he crashes the net so hard, so you have to give him something back. You know?

"It's just messing around, it was fun. A little something."

Even before I asked Tuukka if Bitz deserved the love tap, Tim Thomas had an answer.

"I don't even know what happened, but he deserved it!" said Thomas.


"Byron," said the B's other representative of the Goalies Union: Local 3040.

Moving on from the goalies' corner of the locker room, Bitz was asked if the altercation was heated, at least in the beginning.

"I wouldn't say it was heated, but Tuukka wasn't happy and I was kind of rubbing it in his face a little bit," said Bitz, who was then asked if Rassk could take him in a fight.

"Well, he might," said Bitz with big chesire cat smile. "He's a big kid."

As usual, Shawn Thornton had his own unique take on the whole affaire du Cat.

I asked #22 what he would have done if he were Tuukka and if the BitzyCat was coming after him.

"[I would act] like a big bear were coming after me, I would've crawled into the fetal position and played dead," said Thornton.

End of conversation.
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