|10.06.11 at 6:45 pm ET|
|10.06.11 at 6:10 pm ET|
According to a tweet from the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, defenseman Adam McQuaid (illness) will not play in the Bruins’ season-opener Thursday against the Flyers. Matt Bartkowski, who was set to begin the season as the team’s seventh defenseman, will reportedly play in McQuaid’s place.
McQuaid participated in Thursday’s morning skate, but coach Claude Julien said after the skate that a decision on his status would be made closer to game time.
|10.06.11 at 1:38 pm ET|
By now the cliche about how teams will come out harder against the Bruins because they’re Stanley Cup champions has been used plenty, but there may be no better case of that than Thursday.
The Bruins will be facing the team they eliminated with an easy sweep in the second round last spring when they open the season Thursday against the Flyers. The Bruins’ steamrolling over the Flyers could be considered among the reasons the Flyers blew it up in the offseason, trading captain Mike Richards as well as leading goal-scorer Jeff Carter.
On Thursday, the remaining members of that team, as well as the newcomers, will have to watch the Bruins raise their championship banner in a wild environment at TD Garden. If that can’t motivate a team on opening night, nothing can.
“It’s opening night, so people are jacked up,” defenseman and alternate captain Andrew Ference said after the Bruins’ morning skate. “I think there’s always more concentration on your own team than there is on what’s going on on the other side. Obviously, they want to ruin the party. That’s a no-brainer.”
Ference has plenty of experience being the “other team” at a team’s banner-raising ceremony. He actually made his NHL debut in Dallas against the Stars when they raised their Stanley Cup champions banner in 1999. The Bruins were the Ducks’ opponent for Anaheim’s home opener in 2007, so Ference has twice been a visitor at a banner-raising.
“I can remember a lot more from the Anaheim game, because for the Dallas one, my head was spinning around,” Ference recalled. “It’s an opening night. Team opening nights are a little bit crazier. You wait a little longer in the room for all the pageantry to get done with. You’re mentally prepared for it.”
Players in the Bruins’ room could imagine the Flyers would be motivated to come out harder against the team that ended their season. Guys like David Krejci discussed the importance of focusing on themselves, but Ference noted that given the rivalry that has existed between the two teams, Thursday would be a challenge one way or another.
“Even if we didn’t [eliminate them], it’s a Flyers-Bruins game,” Ference said. “Philly’s always gong to come in and give you a heck of a game. Especially at the start of the season, that’s when you see the crazy hockey. You see some of the big scorers and the seesawing of teams trying to find out who they are. After Thanksgiving, it kind of settles down a bit, but the start of the season is always a little bit crazy.
“You never know what to expect, and it’s usually pretty fun for highlight sand real energetic games. Not always the tightest systems, so no matter if it’s Philly or whoever, we’re going to have tough games and have to be on our toes for all of them.”
|10.06.11 at 12:29 pm ET|
Bring your questions to WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean to discuss Thursday night’s season opener and the 2011-12 season. The chat kicks off at 2 p.m.
|10.06.11 at 12:21 pm ET|
Adam McQuaid participated in the Bruins’ morning skate Thursday, taking the ice for the first time since Tuesday. The second-year defenseman had been under the weather, causing him to leave Tuesday’s practice early and miss Wednesday’s altogether.
Claude Julien expressed some optimism after the skate but said the Bruins will make a decision “closer to the game” regarding whether McQuaid will play. If McQuaid can’t go, Matt Bartkowski will play in his place.
Then there’s the question of who will be the healthy scratch among forwards. One would imagine it would be down to third-line wingers Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot. Julien did not reveal who would end up watching from the press, saying “we told everybody to be ready for tonight.”
Just a hunch, but the feeling here is that the Bruins pull a bit of a surprise and make Pouliot the scratch.
|10.06.11 at 12:07 pm ET|
Either Mark Recchi had some inside information, or he’s incredibly insightful.
The Bruins on Thursday announced that Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly will share the ‘A’ last worn by the retired winger. Ference and Kelly were the two guys Recchi named first when asked Tuesday about the letter.
Ference will wear the letter for home games, while Kelly will wear it on the road. The two will switch halfway through the season, with Kelly getting it in home games.
The Bruins had the options of giving the letter to one player or sharing it with multiple guys. In the end, they chose to go with two players, and they’re confident they picked the right two.
“We didn’t think we’d get as much impact with just moving it around all the time,” Julien said. “There’s got to be some sort of stability, but our leadership group remains bigger than the letters that are out there. We’re going to take advantage of that inside the dressing room.”
Ference has been with the Bruins since 2007, while Kelly was acquired from the Senators last February. The Bruins didn’t let the fact that Kelly has less than a season of experience with the team get in the way of him being recognized for his leadership.
“He was known as a great leader in Ottawa, but he sort of felt his way through before he started showing those qualities to the extreme,” Julien said. “In the playoffs, it was pretty obvious what kind of a leader he was. Our guys and the coaching staff recognized that.”
|10.06.11 at 9:51 am ET|
Milan Lucic is a hockey player of the people.
He has met plenty of ecstatic Bruins fans this summer and he has listened to them.
What’s been the overriding theme from them about opening night against the Flyers tonight?
I’ve heard from a lot of fans, just walking around the street and getting some feedback from them. They’re all saying this might be the biggest game in 40 years and people haven’t looked forward to a game more than this.
After getting their diamond-studded rings on Tuesday night as their personal reward for giving Boston its sixth Stanley Cup title on June 15 in Vancouver, the Bruins tonight will share their joy with 17,565 of their closest friends inside TD Garden as the 2011 Stanley Cup banner is raised to the rafters at TD Garden, their first in 39 years.
“Obviously, I’ve thought about it and it’s something you think about, that first game and getting to see that banner go up and just take it all in and enjoy the stuff that happening before the game,” Lucic said. “It’s great that people are so appreciative of what we accomplished last year and looking forward to what we can accomplish this year.”
Every player knows what’s next: The challenge of putting the emotions of the banner-raising behind them for 2 1/2 good hours and trying to beat one of the teams they dispatched on their way to the Cup.
They start the 2011-12 season with the new-look Philadelphia Flyers, who will be in their dressing room while the banner is raised, hearing the roars of the crowd in the same building their season ended in last May. That’ll be followed up on Saturday night with the next team they beat, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a good test, getting two great teams right off the bat, and obviously, they’re teams we beat last year in the playoffs and that’s something that always sticks with you,” Lucic said.
It certainly did for the Bruins last November, when they beat the Flyers, 3-0, in Philadelphia and they had to listen to all the jokes about actually holding on to a three-goal lead, five months after letting it get away in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern semifinals.
Said Lucic, “I remember the team that knocks you out, you always want to get back to them and beat them in that first game when you play them first in the season. It’ll be a good test playing two elite teams early in the season and there’s probably no better way to get the season off than that.”