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Shawn Thornton: ‘To get a standing ovation in a visiting arena is pretty special’

11.05.14 at 12:32 am ET
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If ever Shawn Thornton wanted a reminder of what he meant to Bruins fans over the last seven years, he got it in a 45-second tribute in the first period Tuesday night at TD Garden.

As they did with the return of Johnny Boychuk two weeks earlier, the Bruins gave a video tribute on the large monitors above center ice midway through the first period. It featured him holding up the Stanley Cup in 2011, scoring a goal and naturally some of his better fisticuffs over his time in black and gold.

He showed his appreciation by waving his stick in the air.

“It’€™s pretty touching you know,” Thornton said. “Very, very kind, very gentle. Gentle? That’€™s not the word I was looking for. To get a standing ovation in a visiting arena is pretty special and I appreciate it. The fans have always been great to me here and again tonight. It’€™s pretty nice.”

Thornton, who signed a two-year, $2.4 million deal on July 1, played 17 shifts and spent 14 minutes on the ice as coach Gerard Gallant used his whole bench. He finished with one shot, one takeaway and four hits, but no fights.

“Well, Turk rolls four lines so I think he has had confidence in our line all year,” Thornton said. “Again tonight was another case of that. I think it’€™s nice to have two guys in Mack [Derek MacKenzie] and Kopy [Tomas Kopecky] that I’€™m playing with, it makes life a little easier for me. It’€™s nice to have the trust in us to put us out there.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Shawn Thornton, Stanley Cup

Claude Julien still wants more out of improving Bergeron line

11.04.14 at 10:56 pm ET
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Part of the Bruins’€™ early-season struggles was that the team’€™s sure things weren’€™t sure things. Zdeno Chara wasn’€™t enjoying a strong start prior to his injury, while Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line was getting beaten far more than usual.

Obviously, it’€™s going to take some time for things to return to normal. Chara is in the second week of his recovery from a torn PCL and, assuming his recovery is on track, is expected to remain out for 2-4 more weeks. The Bergeron line, on the other hand, appears to be turning a corner.

Claude Julien broke up the trio of Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith three games ago, at which point Bergeron was an uncharacteristic minus-2 on the season and Marchand was looking for his first even-strength goal of the season. Smith, Julien had said multiple times, looked like he was behind after missing most of training camp because he didn’€™t have a contract.

Smith was put back on Bergeron’€™s line after a period in Buffalo and Marchand was returned to the line by the end of the game. It seems Julien got the attention of his most trusted line, as Marchand now has four goals (three of which came playing with Bergeron and Smith) and two assists in the last three games, while both Bergeron and Smith have two points apiece in the span.

The Bruins have won all three games, two of which came on overtime winners from Marchand. Both of the Bruins’€™ goals in Tuesday’€™s 2-1 overtime victory came from the Bergeron line, as Bergeron scored his first goal in 12 games with a second-period tally.

“I think tonight was a real big step forward for us,” Marchand said. “We played with a lot more confidence than we have in the past number of games, and it seems like were able to make plays now and hold on. I think that’€™s one thing we weren’€™t doing very well early on — we were throwing it away a lot, and weren’€™t supporting each other very well, but our legs seemed to be under us, we seemed to be more comfortable with the puck, and we felt really good tonight.”

Though the results are showing more and more, Julien said he feels the line isn’t yet where he wants it to be.

“I think the puck movement between them still isn’€™t quite where we’€™ve seen it before,” Julien said. “There’€™s still room for improvement and they’€™ve just got to keep working at it, because they’€™ve got one guy right now that’€™s really hot.”

Smith was strong on the puck and looked lightyears more confident than in games past Tuesday. Julien still expects more out of him. Reminded of his past critiques of the player and asked if he felt Smith had caught up, Julien was noncommittal. Asked again about Smith, Julien reiterated his stance that he feels the whole line could do more.

“He’€™s trying to get himself going,” Julien said of Smith. “I don’€™t think he’€™s playing bad ‘€” I mean, he’€™s just one of those guys with that line ‘€“ I think that whole line, the three of them together, are starting to come around. Two goals from that line tonight, so you can’€™t complain.”

Given Julien’€™s lack of praise, Smith was asked after the game whether he felt his coach was hard on him. Smith’s vague answer suggested the answer might be yes, but Julien trying to motivate his young players is nothing new.

“I think here, everyone’€™s used to that as a hockey player,” Smith said. “You get used to it. You have pretty thick skin. I think if you don’€™t have it, you’€™re not going to go too far.”

Bergeron is a two-time Selke Trophy winner as the league’s top two-way forward, while Marchand and Smith are both looking to prove they can have consistent seasons after streaky showings last season. When that line is at its best, its among the most difficult in the league to oppose. Julien doesn’t think it’s there yet, but the positive steps its taken has helped the Bruins get wins at a time when they need them.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Reilly Smith,

Five things we learned in Bruins overtime win over Panthers

11.04.14 at 9:36 pm ET
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Perhaps the only thing about the Bruins losing Zdeno Chara for 4-6 weeks that wasn’€™t a total negative was that it came at the beginning of a relatively weak part of the Bruins’ schedule. Though banged up, the Bruins are still managing to get those points against lesser teams as they try to recover from their sloppy start to the season.

It wasn’t pretty until the last second, but Tuesday’€™s 2-1 win over the Panthers (box) on Brad Marchand‘€™s sensational overtime winner improved the B’€™s to 4-1-0 without their captain, who is in the second week of his recovery from a torn PCL.

More winnable games await the Chara-less Bruins, as they will face the Oilers, Devils and Maple Leafs before returning to the Bell Centre next week in search of their first win against the Canadiens this season.

Here are four other things we learned Tuesday night:

BERGERON SNAPS GOAL SKID

Entering Tuesday, Bergeron’€™s only goal of the young campaign came against Detroit in the second game of the season. The two-time Selke winner scored for the first time in 12 games Tuesday.

After Reilly Smith won the puck along the wall, Brad Marchand picked up the puck inches from Smith and sent it Bergeron, who knocked down the puck, wheeled around and swept it past Roberto Luongo. The puck might have gone off the stick of a Florida defender to change the trajectory.

The goal gave Bergeron points in two straight games, as he picked up a helper Saturday against the Senators. Bergeron’€™s eight points (two goals, six assists) put him two behind Carl Soderberg, who leads the B’€™s with 10 points (three goals, seven assists).

Marchand, on the other hand, remains red hot with four goals and two assists for six points in his last three games. Reilly Smith had one of his better games of the season.

KREJCI REMAINS OUT

David Krejci missed his second consecutive game with a hip injury that he’€™s battled all season. Claude Julien said prior to the game that Krejci ‘€œshould be back soon.’€

With Krejci out, Chris Kelly centered Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith for the second straight game. The lineup was as follows:

Lucic -€“ Kelly – Griffith
Marchand -€“ Bergeron -€“ Smith
Fraser €-“ Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille -€“ Campbell -€“ Gagne

Seidenberg -“ Hamilton
Morrow -“ McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman

Rask

LOUI ERIKSSON IS GETTING HIT IN THE FACE WITH STICKS AGAIN

Loui Eriksson ran into some bad luck prior to the Olympics when he took a stick to the mouth in a game against the Blues. Eriksson required dental work after the incident.

It was something of a familiar sight in the final minutes of regulation Tuesday when Scottie Upshall got Eriksson in the face with his stick. There was no penalty called on the play, but Eriksson stayed in the game.

THORNTON RETURNS TO BOSTON

Tuesday marked Shawn Thornton‘€™s first game at TD Garden since leaving the Bruins this offseason and first game ever as an opponent in Boston.

The veteran enforcer, who spent seven seasons with the B’€™s, was met with a standing ovation when his name was announced in the starting lineup and was again received a strong response when the Bruins played a video tribute during a first-period stoppage in play. The video featured goals, hits, fights, hospital visits and Thornton raising the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Thornton and linemate Derek MacKenzie were stuck on the ice for Bergeron’€™s second-period goal.

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Zdeno Chara noncommittal on lack of surgery

11.04.14 at 12:50 pm ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since suffering a torn PCL on Oct. 23.

Prior to the team’€™s morning skate, Chara stood in the hall at TD Garden with a brace on his leg as he stickhandled and shot pucks against the wall. He is in the second week of what is expected to be a 4-6 week recovery.

The day after the injury, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said that surgery was not expected to be required for Chara. Asked Tuesday if he was happy to not need surgery, Chara wasn’€™t as definitive.

“Well, we’ll see,” Chara said. “It’s always nice to avoid surgery. We’ll see how it goes, but that was obviously good news.”

It’s worth noting that Aaron Ward, who first reported Chara’s injury, said in his initial report that the Bruins would “evaluate need for surgery or not” at the end of the 4-6 week process.

When asked about a timeline for his recovery, Chara was noncommittal.

Said Chara: “I wish I could tell you guys exactly when I’m going to return but at this point it’s such a slow process, who knows where it’s going?”

The injury was suffered in the first period of the team’€™s loss to the Islanders on a hit to New York captain John Tavares. Following the hit, Chara stayed on the ice during a TV timeout and finished his shift upon the game resuming. He left the bench but said he had not felt anything on his hit on Tavares.

“No, nothing,” Chara said. “Just on the shift after it I felt some discomfort, but no pain or anything like that. I just went into the locker room to just check on things, but obviously I found out there was more to it.”

Since losing the game in which he was injured, the Bruins are 3-1-0 without Chara. The team has also lost Torey Krug to a broken finger in that time, and Kevan Miller was already out with a dislocated shoulder. The team has also pulled Matt Bartkowski from the lineup amidst early season struggles, resulting in Joe Morrow, David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman making up half of Boston’€™s back end.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,

David Krejci to miss second straight game with hip injury

11.04.14 at 12:23 pm ET
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David Krejci will miss his second straight game Tuesday when the Bruins host the Panthers at TD Garden.

Per a source, Krejci has been battling a hip injury suffered in the preseason that forced him to miss the first three games of the season. He returned to post nine points (three goals, six assists) in nine games, but the pain became too much to play through. Krejci has not skated since last Thursday’€™s game against the Sabres.

The Bruins termed Krejci day-to-day on Monday, with their hope Tuesday being that the injury doesn’€™t keep him out much longer.

“€œHe’€™s going to be out tonight, but we don’€™t think it’€™s a real major issue,”€ Claude Julien said after the morning skate. “œHe should be back soon.”€

According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, both Torey Krug (broken finger) and Kevan Miller (dislocated shoulder) skated prior to the morning skate. Miller began skating Monday.

Tuukka Rask is expected to start Tuesday, while Matt Bartkowski appears headed for a third consecutive healthy scratch. With Krejci out, the lineup from morning skate was as follows:

Lucic -€“ Kelly – Griffith
Marchand -€“ Bergeron -€“ Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille -€“ Campbell -€“ Gagne

Seidenberg – Hamilton
Morrow – McQuaid
Warsofsky – Trotman

Rask

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: David Krejci,

David Pastrnak named AHL Rookie of Month

11.03.14 at 3:33 pm ET
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David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak

David Pastrnak’€™s first month of the regular season went as well as it could go without him actually suiting up for Boston. The 2014 first-round pick was named the AHL’€™s Rookie of the Month for the month of October.

Pastrnak’€™s 10 points this season (three goals, seven assists) are tops among AHL rookies. Same goes for his plus-9 rating, which he has compiled over nine games.

Though just 18 years old, Pastrnak could push for a job in Boston at some point this season. The biggest obstacle he faces is his size, as the 5-foot-10 right wing weighs just 165 pounds. That could make it tough for him to handle the board work required of wings in the NHL.

There also isn’€™t a job opening at this point. Seth Griffith has fit in nicely on the right wing of David Krejci‘€™s line with Milan Lucic. Pastrnak projects to eventually be top-six right wing.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Claude Julien, with contract extension in hand, still ‘has fire in the belly’ to win another Stanley Cup

11.03.14 at 2:25 pm ET
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Claude Julien was finally ready to talk about his good news on Monday.

After finalizing the terms of his new contract on Sunday morning, Julien felt comfortable enough to talk about what the extension means to him.

“I feel just as hungry this time around as I was before we won our first one,” Julien said. “I’m excited to have an opportunity to have a team that can compete for that and be part of it.

“I’m happy. We finalized the details [Sunday] morning and there was still some work to be done in our discussions. I’m happy to be here because as far as I’m concerned, this is a great team here. We have an opportunity every year to at least be contenders for the Stanley Cup.”

After bringing Boston its first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011, Julien was awarded a contract extension one year later in July 2012. He reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2013 before his team went out to the Canadiens last year in the second round. But all the while, Julien said Monday after his team’s practice, that the fire and hunger still burns inside him.

“I think my focus has to be 100 percent here, and it has been,” Julien said. “I think the thing I feel the most that’s important right now is no matter what we’ve accomplished, I’m really still very hungry to win another Stanley Cup. You want to succeed. And you when you start getting tired of doing that is when I think you become weaker as a coach. I really feel strongly about this organization and the direction it wants to go in. I feel strongly about my intentions of wanting to win. I was just as disappointed as anybody else last year because I really felt we had a team to go all the way. So, you come back and you’re hungry, and you have that and what they call the fire in the belly, I’m extremely happy in this organization, as long as they want me.”

“We have worked at this for a few months, but there was never any doubt in my mind that this would get done,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. “Claude is one of the top coaches in the NHL and has consistently shown a passion for winning through his coaching. Coaching is a difficult profession at the best of times and what Claude does in implementing structure in his systems, and having a solid defensive foundation while allowing freedom in offensive play is no easy task. During his time with the Bruins, he has excelled in maintaining this difficult balance, and his longevity here speaks volumes. He has coached the Bruins to a Stanley Cup and a Cup Final appearance and our goal to win with him at the helm remains the same as we move forward.”

Julien said he was in no rush to extend his contract simply because he know Chiarelli had bigger matters on his plate, like dealing the salary cap and the unpopular trade of Johnny Boychuk.

“This has been in the works for longer than that,” Julien said. “It wasn’t even an argument-type thing. To be honest with you, Peter, in my mind, had a lot more important things to do than to worry about signing me. We all know that all of the stuff of signing players and everything else. It was a mutual agreement between us to let him deal with his stuff and mine would come around eventually. It was just that it leaked out Saturday but we weren’t done yet. We just finalized everything and now it’s time to move on and hopefully, after today, turn the page.”

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