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Johnny Boychuk, Tuukka Rask present for first postseason practice

04.09.12 at 10:48 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins held their first practice of the postseason Monday at Ristuccia Arena. Johnny Boychuk (knee) and Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) were both present for the skate, while Adam McQuaid (eye) was missing.

The lines are as follows:

Milan LucicDavid KrejciRich Peverley
Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronTyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot – Chris KellyBrian Rolston
Daniel PailleGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

Jordan Caron served as the extra forward on the Campbell line. One could assume the final spot in the lineup will come down to Caron and Paille.

Boychuk took regular turns when the Bruins did line rushes early in the skate. Rask was moving around well, taking shots as one of three goaltenders on the ice. Tim Thomas and Anton Khudobin are the other two, as Marty Turco is ineligible because he signed after the trade deadline.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Caron

Bruins-Capitals first-round schedule

04.08.12 at 1:09 pm ET
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The Bruins’ schedule in the first round of the playoffs against the Capitals is as follows:

Game 1, at Boston: Thursday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2, at Boston: Saturday, April 14, 3 p.m.
Game 3, at Washington: Monday, April 16, 7: 30 p.m.
Game 4, at Washington: Thursday, April 19, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 5, at Boston: Saturday, April 21, 3 p.m.
*Game 6, at Washington: Sunday, April 22, time TBD
*Game 7, at Boston: Wednesday, April 25, time TBD

* If necessary

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs,

Peter Chiarelli says Nathan Horton ‘a longshot’ to return this season, gives updates on Tuukka Rask, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid

04.08.12 at 1:01 pm ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said on a conference call Sunday that while he won’t rule Nathan Horton out for the season, the veteran winger is a “longshot” to play again this season after suffering his most recent concussion in January.

Horton began skating last week but has not yet been cleared for contact. Chiarelli noted that Horton is “quite far off right now” as he still has occasional post-concussion syndrome issues. Even if Horton were to be cleared for contact, Chiarelli said the 26-year-old would still need “a couple of weeks” before he would be ready to play in games.

“Well, certainly if he were to be cleared at some point, he’€™d need at least a couple weeks to get back so he’€™s quite far off right now,” Chiarelli said. “I know he’€™s skating, [but] he’€™s had little bouts here and there with post-concussion symptoms so it’€™s a long shot. I’€™m not going to rule him out yet but it’€™s a longshot.”

In 46 games this season, Horton has 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points and an even rating.

On the status of the team’s other injured players, Chiarelli said defensemen Johnny Boychuk (bruised knee) and Adam McQuaid (swollen eye) are both “day-to-day,” while he considers goaltender Tuukka Rask “a little bit more than day-to-day” as the Finnish netminder looks to return from an abdomen strain/groin strain. If Rask is unable to play, Anton Khudobin will be Tim Thomas‘ backup when the playoffs begin against the Capitals.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Nathan Horton

Claude Julien sounds quietly confident as his Bruins begin their quest for a repeat

04.08.12 at 9:24 am ET
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Claude Julien didn’t hide the fact that after Saturday’s press conference following a 4-3 shootout win over the Sabres in the regular season finale that he was headed to watch more hockey. He knew the Bruins were either going to be playing the Senators or the Capitals starting Thursday at TD Garden.

But first, he did allow time to look back on what was the toughest – albeit rewarding – grind of his coaching career, including falling very temporarily to the No. 7 seed in the East before rebounding to win four of their last five and salt away the division and the No. 2 spot.

“I don’€™t think we liked seeing ourselves in the seventh spot, but the one thing that really helped us through it is, I think we started sensing the playoffs were getting close, and we knew that we had to play better to be a good playoff team,” Julien said. “As I said numerous times, I think it was more of a mental struggle this year than anything else. Our guys are in — these guys are well-conditioned athletes, so physically, it’€™s never an issue, but the mental part. If your mind tells you you’€™re tired, you’€™re going to look tired. If your mind tells you you’€™re not, you’€™re going to perform with better energy, and I think right now it’€™s a big mental obstacle that we had to overcome this year because our guys, at one point, we looked tired because, in our minds, we felt tired, and I think once the excitement of the playoffs started getting closer, we started seeing the playoffs around the corner, all of a sudden, we started getting excited again.

“And you say, ‘€˜Oh, look, they don’€™t look like they’€™re tired. They look like they’€™ve got a lot of energy.’€™ Well, I gave them days off, but those days off alone wouldn’€™t have been enough, so I think the part right now is our psyche, and if we’€™re excited to go into the playoffs, then we’€™re going to be just as good as any other team.”

Julien said he and his staff would pretty much begin their preparations immediately for their first-round opponent (the Washington Capitals) was determined.

“I’€™ll do it [Sunday],” Julien said after the win over the Sabres. “I mean, we’€™re off [Sunday] — that’€™s the players, not the coaching staff. The minute we find out our opponents, we start doing the video work and cutting, which we’€™ve already done some of it, but depending on some changes along the way. Obviously there’€™s two teams. It’€™s either Ottawa or Wash [Washington], so we’€™ve got a lot of that work done, and when it’€™s solidified, then we’€™re going to start, we’€™re going to finish it up, and by Monday, we should be on top of things.”

Asked about his team’s chances of repeating now that they’re back to the playoffs, Julien said his team is looking ahead to the first round, no further.

“That’€™s still a long ways away,” he said. “It’€™s one of those things where, they finished the season. Our number one goal is the same it’€™s been every year, and that’€™s to make the playoffs. And, I always keep saying the same thing over and over, that making the playoffs is a tough thing to do on a consistent basis. We’€™ve seen teams that have won the Cup and failed to make the playoffs the next year, we’€™ve seen teams win the Cup and just barely make it in.

“For us to win our division and get another season of over 100 points, I think it’€™s a credit to those guys in there because it was a tough grind. We had ups and downs, but now we start that new season that everybody gets excited about, and we’€™ve got as good a chance as anybody else to win, and even though it’€™s hard to, as they say, repeat nowadays, and it hasn’€™t been done in a long time, we’€™re certainly going to challenge that.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL, Stanley Cup

Bruins know Cup defense is all about them, not the opponent

04.07.12 at 8:30 pm ET
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Through all the number crunching and scenario possibilities Saturday afternoon, the Bruins knew one thing – it doesn’t matter who they’re playing, they are focused on themselves.

And they like what they’re seeing in the mirror right now.

“Well it helps, it definitely helps,” Milan Lucic said of Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win, giving them four wins in their final five games. “Obviously, there was a bit of a worry I guess when we couldn’€™t even put two wins together. We were winning one, losing one. Winning one, losing two, winning one. So, you know the fact that we were able to kind of regroup and get things going in is definitely more of a confident feeling and we’€™re looking forward to the challenge that’€™s coming up ahead.

“It doesn’t matter at all,” Lucic said when asked if he was planning to pay close attention to Saturday’s night games to see if they’re playing Washington or Ottawa.

“There’s a good saying, ‘In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.’ So, you know, it doesn’t matter who you play or who’s on the other side. It’s about who’s in this room and how we’re going to play so we’re committed to that, and that’s our main focus right now.”

The Bruins are happy with where they’re at following a shootout win against the Sabres that left them with 102 points and the No. 2 spot in the East. They’ll be opening with the Capitals on Thursday at TD Garden, as the Capitals won Saturday night in New York while the Panthers clinched the Southeast Division with a win over Carolina, clinching the No. 3 seed in the East. The Capitals wound up as the No. 7 seed while the Senators – who will play the Rangers – finished as the No. 8 seed.

“I got the app that shows you all the scores on the old iPhone so obviously I’m going to take a look by the end of the night and see who we’re up against,” Lucic said afterward. “It’s going to be a hard-fought battle no matter who we play… We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Added Claude Julien, “That’€™s the feel that there should be in the dressing room. Anybody who decides who they want as an opponent, whether it’€™s, you know, saying, ‘€˜Oh, I’€™d rather play this team than that team,’€™ or plays to pick their own opponents don’€™t deserve to win.

“That’€™s the way — this is a game. This is not wrestling, it’€™s not a fake sport, you don’€™t go out there and pretend to play and make sure you lose because you want a certain team to play against, because karma’€™s a pretty powerful thing, and I believe in doing the things right. And if we’€™re going to win, we’€™re going to have to beat every team that comes in our way, and that’€™s the way we’€™ve approached it.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Milan Lucic, NHL, Ottawa Senators

Patrice Bergeron ends Bruins’ regular season in style

04.07.12 at 6:37 pm ET
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Three assists weren’t enough for Patrice Bergeron on Saturday, so he closed the regular season by scoring the only goal of a shootout and giving the Bruins a 4-3 win over the Sabres. The B’s finished the season with a 49-29-4 record and 102 points.

The game didn’t count, but Bergeron’s line gave the Garden a glimpse of what they’re hoping to do in the playoffs. In addition to Bergeron’s three helpers, the line got two goals from Tyler Seguin and one from Marchand. Seguin finished the season with a team-leading 29 goals and 67 points.

The Bruins came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period on goals from Seguin and Marchand. The teams went scoreless through the overtime period.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– With 66 points, Seguin became the youngest player to ever lead the Bruins in points. He also tripled his total of 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) from his rookie year. Much of Seguin’s success has come thanks to the fact that he’s spent the season on lines with either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci, but credit has to be given for taking the leap the team hoped he would take.

– The Bruins gave out their team awards prior to the game. Brad Marchand was given the Dufresne Trophy, as voted on by the Boston chapter of the Pro Hockey Writers’ Association, for best play at home after totaling 17 goals and 13 assists for 30 points at the Garden this season. Zdeno Chara was given the Eddie Shore Award for hustle and determination, while Marchand also received the John P. Bucyk Award for off-ice charitable contributions.

– Fighting is a rarity in the playoffs, so Shawn Thornton got in one last fight — his 20th of the season — by dropping the gloves with Robyn Regehr in the first period.

– Bergeron’s second assist of the day was his 400th career point, and he finished the day with 64 points on the season and 401 in his career thus far. His 42 assists this season ties for his second-best single-season total in his career. His best season for assists remains 2006-07, when he had 48.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Tim Thomas did not get the 521-save (you read that right) shutout that he would have needed to remain the holder of the single-season save percentage record. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott, currently at .940, should surpass the .939 mark that Thomas had a season ago.

– Speaking of Thomas, Saturday marked just the first time in eight games that Thomas allowed three of more goals. That’s actually a pretty good sign for the Bruins, as his overall sharp play over the last few weeks is a good sign that he’s ready for the playoffs.

Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: B’s look to finish regular season with a win

04.07.12 at 4:15 pm ET
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