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Tuukka Rask admits Bruins’ true grit ‘has been lacking’ for most of the season so far

12.12.14 at 12:45 pm ET
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For many who have watched the Bruins this season, a common criticism has been that they don’t seem fully engaged or motivated this season.

Tuukka Rask has seen the same thing. But after a 3-2 loss to the red-hot Blackhawks, Rask insisted the Bruins are headed in the right direction.

“We played a pretty good game,” Rask said, trying to find a silver lining after watching his teammates drop their sixth game in eight tries. “Tough couple bounces there, the first two goals. We fall behind 2-0 and we battled back and made it a game. When you’€™re winning games, things go your way and when you’€™re not really in the groove like we aren’€™t really, it’€™s tough to find it. We are just going to keep battling and good things are going to happen.”

Chris Kelly has been engaged and is one of the Bruins trying to provide a spark. His third period bout with Andrew Shaw came after Milan Lucic was shoved to the ice after feeding Torey Krug for a goal to make it 3-2. Rask was asked if he sees feistiness and grit returning to the team.

“I think it has been lacking for the most part this season,” Rask said. “The last game in Phoenix, we put emphasis on that, really battling for every puck and really being hard to play against. We did that and then [Thursday] we did the same thing and when two teams are doing that, emotions flare and sometimes there are fights. It’€™s a good sign that we do that.”

“It all comes from hard work and never quitting and that’€™s what we have been doing in practices and in the past couple games and as long as we keep doing that I think good things are going to happen for us and we are going to start winning hockey games and everybody can be smiling.”

All of the talk about true grit and character won’t mean much if the Bruins don’t start soon translating that into wins, especially against the best teams in the league, like Chicago.

“We have been able to play against the best for sure. [We’re] not necessarily getting all the results we wanted but at the end of the day it’€™s all about winning and we have to find a way to win these games,” Rask added.

“I mean if you look at the effort and you look at the plays we made, for the most part it was our style of hockey. I thought a lot of times we were the better team out there. So I guess you can take the positive but from a goalie standpoint, two deflections off of your own sticks and it obviously sucks. We just have to keep working and find ways to get those bounces our way, not against us.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Tuukka Rask,

Report: Bruins favorites to host 2016 Winter Classic

12.12.14 at 3:33 am ET
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According to TSN, the Winter Classic is expected to come back to Boston.

Bob McKenzie reported on TSN’€™s Insider Trading that the Bruins are favorites to host the annual outdoor game in 2016. The B’€™s hosted the event in 2010 when they played the Flyers at Fenway Park.

“I would think that by mid-January to mid-February, that it could be finalized if all goes well,” McKenzie said. “That’s the primary focus right now, but the deal not done just yet.”

It is unknown where the potential game would be held.

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

Dennis Seidenberg insists, ‘I pride myself on being a clean player’

12.12.14 at 12:45 am ET
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Dennis Seidenberg knew his hit on Jonathan Toews looked bad the moment it happened in the second period, as the Bruins were trying to kill off the final minute of consecutive penalties that put the Bruins in penalty kill mode.

But the strong, hulking defenseman made a point after the game that he meant no harm and certainly didn’t intend to put Toews out of of commission for the rest of the game. For the record, 49 seconds after getting hit by Seidenberg, Toews was actually on the ice, getting called for hooking Chris Kelly.

But after serving his hooking penalty, Toews went to the Chicago dressing room and did not return.

After the game, Seidenberg insisted he meant no harm toward Chicago’s star center.

“I pride myself on being a clean player and a hard player to play against, so when I went in on that one-on-one battle there, I thought I saw his right shoulder and at the last second he might have turned, I don’€™t know,” Seidenberg said. “I didn’t really see the replay or anything and obviously I never want to see a guy go into the boards like that.

“I would never want to hurt a guy,” he added. “That’€™s the last thing on my mind. I like playing hard and winning my board battles and that’€™s about it.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Dennis Seidenberg, Jonathan Toews

Zdeno Chara shakes off rust, gets ‘better and better’ in return to game action

12.12.14 at 12:05 am ET
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The first 30 minutes of Zdeno Chara‘s return could not have been much shakier. On his fourth shift Thursday night, Chara committed a bad turnover in his own end that led to a great chance for Marian Hossa. Thankfully for Chara, Tuukka Rask bailed him out with a great toe save.

A few minutes later, Chara tried to cover for Dougie Hamilton after Hamilton misplayed a puck in the Bruins zone, but Chara wasn’t able to get position on Brandon Saad and wound up taking a hooking penalty. Chara then took another penalty 8:50 into the second when he shot the puck over the glass on a clearing attempt, giving Chicago an extended 5-on-3.

It wasn’t the start Chara would have liked, but it shouldn’t have been surprising either. After all, this was Chara’s first game in nearly two months, and it came against arguably the best team in the NHL. A little rust while getting up to game speed should have been expected.

“It was exciting to be playing a game, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “There’s no secret that I felt the absence of missing a good chunk of time. I’m not going to make excuses. Just you have those games that you have to break in.”

And rest assured, as the game went on Chara broke in. After that second penalty, he was a noticeably positive force for the Bruins. He was reading plays better and winning pucks, and he looked calmer with the puck on his stick. Read the rest of this entry »

Claude Julien suggests Jonathan Toews shoulders some responsibility for his own injury

12.11.14 at 11:47 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien feels badly whenever a superstar goes down with an injury like Chicago’s Jonathan Toews did Thursday night at the hands of contact with Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

But he also feels Toews and others should be taught better how to handle themselves when they are approaching the boards. In short, Julien suggested that Toews shoulders some responsibility for the violent collision with the boards that resulted in him missing the entire third period.

“I’ve been saying that for a long time, we need to educate our players to protect themselves better,” Julien said. “We keep turning our backs, we keep trying to curl away.”

Then Julien came to the defense of his defenseman, who picked up a two-minute boarding penalty.

“A player’s job is to finish his check and a player should know he’s going to be hit,” Julien added. “It’s not about tonight, it’s about the whole league. I’m one of those guys who has put a lot of pressure on people who look at those kind of things and say, ‘It’s OK to take away those hits from hits from behind when they’re warranted. But what about the other guy? Does he not have a responsibility?'”

Julien brought up another big hit just two nights ago in Minnesota for some added perspective. Midway through the second period of the Wild’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders, Minnesota’s Keith Ballard and the Islanders’ Matt Martin were involved in a scary incident along the boards.

As Ballard dumped the puck in from center ice, Martin hit him, but not before the Wild defenseman turned his body toward the boards. Ballard’€™s head ended up hitting the dasher, as well as the ice. Martin, unlike Seidenberg, was not given a penalty on the play, as it appeared Ballard turned his back to Martin at the last moment before Martin’s hit.

“I looked at the Ballard hit, or the hit on Ballard from Martin,” Julien said. “So, Martin didn’€™t get a penalty on that and I think Ballard saw him coming and he turned and the consequences aren’€™t what you want to see from a player being hit like him. Certainly don’€™t like seeing those kinds of things, but this is where it’€™s important to take care of ourselves.

“So, I view that five-on-three we’€™re going to close a gap quickly and Dennis is a strong individual. So, is he supposed to get weak because of that situation? Or he just plays to his strength. Again, I wasn’€™t happy. I looked at it, and it could be arguable, but from my end of it I think it’€™s what it is. Our guys need to finish their checks and sure, you’€™ve got to be careful, but I’€™m sure he knew that he was coming.”
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Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg, Joel Quenneville, Jonathan Toews

5 things we learned as Bruins get Zdeno Chara back, fall to Blackhawks

12.11.14 at 9:41 pm ET
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The Bruins got their captain back Thursday and, for a couple of periods, began to look like their old selves.

Sure, they lost to the Blackhawks (box), but their old selves used to do that, too. The B’€™s push in the second and third periods brought them back from a 3-0 hole. If there is to be a turnaround for the Bruins this season, Chris Kelly fighting Andrew Shaw after Torey Krug’€™s goal in the third period might be a moment looked back on down the road. Boston held Chicago to two shots on goal in the third period.

It wasn’t the prettiest night for Chara, who was playing in his first game since Oct. 28. It could have been uglier, as a defensive-zone giveaway to Marian Hossa in the first period was negated by a Tuukka Rask kick save.

Chara took a pair of penalties, first hooking Brandon Saad in the first period and then sending the puck over the glass in the defensive zone during a second period Blackhawks power play to give Chicago a five-on-three.

David Krejci did not play. He has been limited to just 11 games this season.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday:

B’€™S DEPTH NO MATCH FOR CHICAGO

Though Thursday marked the return of Boston’€™s best player, it was the bottom of the B’s roster that failed them in the first period.

Playing against Chicago’€™s fourth line, Boston’€™s bottom-six forwards and third defensive pairing allowed a pair of goals.

Boston College product Ben Smith turned in a monster of a play on the first goal in outbattling Gregory Campbell for a puck behind the net. Campbell knocked Smith down, but Smith got up with Campbell still in coverage, kicked the puck to himself and skated free before sending a shot to the top of the left circle that Klas Dahlbeck buried past Tuukka Rask.

On Chicago’€™s second goal, a Blackhawks pass from the corner went off Seth Griffith’€™s stick and on net, with Smith jumping on the rebound and scoring.

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Read More: Zdeno Chara,

Bruins should still make room for Joe Morrow

12.11.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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Joseph Morrow

Joe Morrow

Joe Morrow should be playing in the NHL. He might even be a guy worth making room for if you’€™re the Bruins.

Yet with the B’€™s finally getting their biggest piece back on defense and that room not being made, this could be the beginning of a prolonged stay in the press box or even a return to Providence for the twice-traded-yet-somehow-not-neurotic blueliner.

Even before Zdeno Chara was ready to return, the Bruins began scratching Morrow last week when they, for whatever reason, sat him in the middle two games of their four-game West Coast trip. It doesn’t seem Morrow has done anything to get himself benched, however. Since being recalled in late October, the 22-year-old defenseman was everything but rocky, which was the biggest concern about him heading in given his offensive tendencies. Getting decent minutes (he averaged 16:41) against other teams’€™ bottom-sixers, Morrow provided stability that Matt Bartkowski couldn’€™t earlier in the season. His decision-making was sound and he didn’t have major issues in coverage.

Now, Morrow understands those minutes may be harder to come by.

“Every day, even up here there’€™s still healthy guys most of the time, so it was an ongoing process of possibly being in and out, so there’€™s really not much to it,”€ he said. “You’€™ve just got to go out and practice and see where you fit in and wait for another opportunity, whether it be here or whatever they decide to do. You never know.

“€œThey keep you in the dark; they keep you out of everything and if you don’€™t let that get to you, you should be fine. Just stay positive and live every day.”

The level-headed Morrow is keeping surprisingly calm throughout the process. When the B’€™s took him out of the lineup, he didn’€™t become overly critical of himself or wondered what earned the benching, which is something young players experience frequently early in their careers.

“I guess at one point there’€™s a part where you’€™ve got to look at yourself and say, ‘€˜Oh, well did I do something wrong or is it just kind of [they’€™ve] got to get some other guys in the lineup, switch things up a bit?™'”€ Morrow said. “Personally, I didn’€™t take it to heart.”€

The Bruins can still make room for Morrow. Zach Trotman remains in the lineup, with Claude Julien saying this week that he’€™s felt Trotman has been the team’€™s best defenseman on certain nights. He also likes that Trotman is a right shot, though the Bruins have lefties in Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug who can move over to allow another lefty, such as Morrow, to enter the lineup. The B’s also shouldn’t be above sitting Kevan Miller at points if need be.

“€œWe’€™re going to have a healthier back end, which will allow us to out the best players in the lineup,”€ Julien said. “€œYou hear us say it all the time –€” it’€™s almost a cliche now –€” but healthy competition, right? That’€™s what it ends up being.”

Though coaches feel he has been a better NHL player than an AHL player, the possibility exists that Morrow could eventually fall victim to the waiver process and be sent to Providence. The B’€™s can send guys like Morrow or Trotman up and down without exposing them to waivers, which is not the case for other defensemen such as Bartkowski. Morrow knows he could be sent back down, but he would be understanding of the numbers game if it happened.

“€œIt’€™s in the back of your mind, you know it is [a possibility],”€ Morrow said. “€œIt is a chess match. You know they’€™ve got to strategically do things to help this organization and to keep it intact. Whatever that may be, I know I’€™m a part of it and I’€™m here to help out, too, so if that’€™s the case that it does work out better that way, you can’€™t be mad or you can’€™t be disappointed about it. It’€™s just the way things are.”

Read More: Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman,
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