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Julien offers updates on Savard, Sturm, Ference, and Seidenberg

10.13.10 at 12:51 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the team’s first practice since returning to the United States that the club is better off not putting unnecessary pressure on Marc Savard has he recovers from post-concussion syndrome symptoms. Savard has been unable to take the ice since failing his impact test when the team opened training camp in September.

“I’ve taken the approach that as long as he’s not with us, I’ve got to keep working with our group here,” Julien said. “I haven’t had any real good chances to talk with the medical staff and stuff like that, but he’s been working out, that much I know. It’s getting better every day, so I’m looking forward to seeing him on the ice, and we’ll take it from there.

“He’s behind by at least a month, a month and a half already, where we’ve been on the ice, so we have to be patient and give him a chance to come back. Right now I don’t think there’s any reason why we should push this guy to get back more than we should be helping him to get back. That’s the thing we have to make sure we do here, is give him due time to make that comeback, and when he’s ready to make it, we’ll help him through it.”

Julien also added that Marco Sturm, another long-term injury player (knee) is expected to begin skating in the coming days as he continues his recovery.

Both Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference left the ice early on Wednesday. Julien said that while Seidenberg was dealing with either the flu or food poisoning, Ference was unable to shoot pucks due to a cortisone shot he received in his thumb. Julien noted that the veteran defenseman’s thumb ailment is “very, very minor” and that he won’t miss additional practice time due to it.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Claude Julien, Marc Savard,

Welcome back to Wilmington

10.13.10 at 10:28 am ET
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WILMINGTON — It sure isn’t as visually pleasing as Prague’s O2 Arena, but it’s good to be back at Ristuccia Arena for the Bruins’ first practice since returning from Europe.

Prior to the team’s 10:30 skate commencing, there was a bit of an on-ice meeting with 10 Bruins consisting of Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Tuukka Rask.

Despite skating with the aforementioned first, smaller group, Ference did not skate with the team in practice. Judging by the team’s multi-colored sweaters, here are the forward lines.

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton

Jordan Caron – Patrice Bergeron – Blake Wheeler

Mark Recchi – Tyler Seguin – Michael Ryder/Daniel Paille

Brad Marchand  – Gregory CampbellShawn Thornton/Brian McGrattan

Dennis Seidenberg left the ice after about half an hour, so Thornton tossed a black jersey on to balance out the defense. Chara was paired with Boychuk, Hunwick was with Mark Stuart, and Thornton skated with Adam McQuaid.

Read More: Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara,

Ryan Miller says Savard is out because of ‘smartass’ hit

10.12.10 at 4:55 pm ET
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Bruins fans have plenty of reason to not want to see any more ugly hits. Having watched the concussion-inducing blows that cost both Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard significant time, it would be understandable. At any rate, here’s the hit from Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarrson on Sabres forward Jason Pominville that had Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller all charged up when speaking to WGR Sports Radio.

“I don’t care if it’s unintentional. It’s what we have to get away from in hockey right now, is the culture of, ‘I was trying to make a play, therefore it’s not my fault,'” Miller said, adding that the hit “absolutely needs to be punished.”

“I don’t even know if there’s enough made of it is because Jason is walking out with just stitches,” Miller added. “What if Jason has a fractured neck? We don’t even know if it’s going to have an impact with concussions.”

Miller spoke very passionately against dirty hits and called for players to take more accountability in wake of such plays.

“I just think more people should be a little more outraged,” Miller said. “When [Hjalmarsson] left the ice he was surprised he got kicked out. Are you serious? I would have probably started shading towards the locker room if I were him.”

The reigning Vezina trophy winner said that he hopes “the league wakes up and sets a precedent for the year,” so that players will no longer be at risk of losing time or their careers to concussions. One of the plays mentioned was Matt Cooke‘s March 7 hit on Savard.

“Savard’s still not playing,” Miller said. “One of the best playmakers we have in this game is still not playing because of a stupid, smartass hit.”

Savard, despite returning for the team’s second-round matchup with the Flyers, has been out since training camp with post-concussion syndrom symptoms.

Read More: Marc Savard, Ryan Miller,

Bruins make McGrattan signing official

10.11.10 at 12:59 pm ET
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The Bruins announced on Monday that they have signed enforcer Brian McGrattan to a one-year deal. McGrattan, 29, had travelled with the team to Belfast and Prague while on a tryout.

The 29-year-old has played in 182 games between the Senators, Coyotes, and Flames. Though known throughout the NHL as one of the league’s most willing fighters, McGrattan’s most impressive statistic was his 551 penalty minutes in 71 AHL games in the 2004-05 season.

The team also placed goaltender Nolan Schaefer on waivers with the intention of assigning him to Providence. Teams were allowed to bring a third goaltender on the season-opening European trip, and as a result the former Providence College netminder traveled with the Bruins.

Read More: Brian McGrattan,

A Great Trip for Nathan Horton

10.10.10 at 1:57 pm ET
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PRAGUE ‘€“ Eastern Europe was good to Nathan Horton.

The Bruins right winger, who was acquired in a June 22 trade with the Florida Panthers, scored the only two goals in Boston’s Saturday loss to Phoenix, and struck again on Sunday with his third goal of the short-lived season and an assist to Milan Lucic.

Horton will certainly return to Boston as the center of attention after his spectacular performance overseas, but he doesn’t seem to care much. He’s just excited about heading back and returning to the fans at home.

“It’s a hockey city, Boston,” Horton said. “It’s hockey and it’s sports, and it’s fun to play there and be a Boston Bruin.”

More remarks from the locker room:

On playing on the first line with Lucic and David Krejci, Horton said:

“Every day is getting better. We try not to be too fancy sometimes. I think that’s where we get into trouble, and getting some pucks to the net. I think if you try to work little plays, give and gos, and just have fun out there. Just relax and try to work to gather. They’re great players, so it’s just get them the puck and things happen.”

On first round-pick Tyler Seguin’s first NHL goal (Horton himself was the third overall pick in the 2003 draft):

“Good for him. He’s such a skilled player. He’s confident, and he knows he’s good and he’s going to score. It’s great for him to score and get it out of the way. There’s going to be a lot more in the NHL for him to come. “

Read More: Nathan Horton, Prague,

In Prague, A Fresh Start For Tim Thomas

10.10.10 at 1:37 pm ET
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PRAGUE ‘€“ In the Czech Republic’s capital city, Tim Thomas got a fresh start to the young season.

Coming off a lackluster 2009-2010 campaign, not to mention off-season hip surgery, the 36-year-old Bruins goalie put on an impressive show against Phoenix on Sunday as he stopped every puck that came his way and earned his first victory of the year.

Amid the howls of Coyotes fans and the growls of the Bruins faithful clad in black and gold, Thomas made the job look seemingly effortless ‘€“ and for nearly the entire game, it was. The Bruins defense, led by Captain Zdeno Chara, kept the pressure off Thomas and redeemed itself after allowing five goals the night before. For their part, Phoenix had just 29 shots on Thomas the entire game and worse, no goals to show for it.

Thomas could be seen lounging in the crease for much of the first two periods while most of the action was taking place across the ice. He almost looked bored, his arm resting up against the goal as his teammates took shots at Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Thomas said it wasn’t a symptom of boredom, but rather a symptom of his age.

“I’m 36,” Thomas said after the game. “That’s going to happen all the time.”

In May, the Bruins goalie underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. That, after a season in which he went 17-18 and 23-year-old hotshot Tuukka Rask seemed to garner all the praise in Boston.

It explains why Thomas was so nervous before Sunday’s game in Prague. But all things considered, it also explains why the victory felt so good.

“It’s been a long road, but it feels great to get a shutout right off the bat,” he said.

Read More: Prague, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,

Tim Thomas, Nathan Horton lead Bruins in shutout win

10.10.10 at 12:34 pm ET
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PRAGUE — The newcomers made most of the offensive noise, but it was an old face in Tim Thomas who was the story as the Bruins picked up their first win of the season, a 3-0 shutout over the Coyotes at the O2 Arena in Prague.

A night after Tuukka Rask looked impressive despite allowing four goals, Thomas got the start and recorded his 18th career shutout. Additionally, the defense looked far more responsible in shutting down any of Phoenix’ offensive attempts throughout the night.

Former third overall pick Nathan Horton picked up two more points in the game, including his third goal of the season. Rookie Tyler Seguin took a pass from Michael Ryder in the third period and converted it into a breakaway goal, the first of his NHL career.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Nathan Horton’s first two games with the Bruins could not have gone better. After getting the primary assist on Lucic’s goal and potting one of his own from the slot in the second period, he has now been on the scoring sheet for four of the Bruins’ five goals this season.

Bruins fans shouldn’t get too carried away — Horton’s scored 30 goals in his six-year career just once — but it could be time for this writer to rethink the 33-goals he predicted for the 25-year-old. Motivation was a question for Horton while he played for the Panthers, and both he, his teammates, and management have spotted a rejuvenated player in him. It’s pretty clear at this point that the Bruins won’t need Tyler Seguin to overachieve in order to have a top pick light up the stat sheet.

Horton said prior to the game that he and his linemates continue to get more comfortable with one another with each practice and each game, but the three of them have looked terrific to this point. The dynamic between he and Lucic is something to keep an eye on, as their styles of play are very similar and the two have moved the puck to one another well to this point.

– Unforced errors and turnovers grabbed headlines following Saturday’s game, but the cautious and responsible style of play that the Bruins have become known for in recent years made its return on Sunday. The Coyotes’ offense struggled to get going for long stretches at a time, particularly in the second period, when it took Phoenix about 15 minutes to get their second shot on goal of the period.

– The new third line, with Tyler Seguin skating between Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder, looks intriguing, but not for the reason one would think. Though Seguin had his first career goal on a breakaway that once again suggested his talents as a scorer will be too much to allow him to hit too big of a rookie wall, Ryder turning the corner from a down year last season could also help the Bruins big. Ryder sent Seguin a hail mary pass on the rookie’s goal.

– That would indeed be Mr. Tim Thomas with the shutout for your Boston Bruins. Thomas wasn’t spectacular, and at times could have been caught out of position, but the bottom line was that he made timely saves. As was mentioned above, the Phoenix offense had its fair share of lulls, but Thomas was ready for the spurts of pressure when they came.

In total Thomas, made 29 saves in the game, his first win of the season and his 18th career shutout.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The defense was strong for the Bruins, but it can’t be an encouraging sign that the team has shuffled its pairings regularly throughout the first two games. Such was the case in the preseason, but it appears that Claude Julien needs to be careful with who he pairs with Matt Hunwick, who despite playing better on Sunday than he’ll probably be noticed, is a bit of a liability as he comes into his own.

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Read More: European Trip, Nathan Horton, Tim Thomas,
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