|10.21.10 at 12:42 pm ET|
Home openers are a special thing for players and fans. They make for spectacles consisting of optimism, hype, and screaming fans.
“It’s always special. There’s always that excitement of playing that first game at home in front of your own fans,” Zdeno Chara said. “You always get the butterflies going and the excitement that you only get once a year.”
Count second line winger Blake Wheeler among the players excited for Thursday night’s home opener against the Capitals. He enjoys the fanfare and whatever hoopla comes with the night, but once the puck is dropped, he knows the Bruins have a job to do.
“We can’t really be focused on putting on a show,” Wheeler said Thursday. “We’ve just got to play hard and do the things that have made us successful. That’s what the fans appreciate, so it’s almost like less is more.”
The team has been off to a hot start, following up an ugly season-opening loss in Prague with three straight victories on the road. The offense has clicked, the goaltending’s been outstanding, and the B’s have six points in the last three games.
Preseason aside, Bruins fans last saw their beloved black and gold blow a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead to the Flyers. Thursday the team can officially unveil their revamped roster that has seen the addition of Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Caron and Gregory Campbell. New faces aren’t the only difference for the Bruins, who look to improve their win streak Thursday.
“I think guys have confidence. I think guys are playing with a lot of confidence, and playing well. I think for the most part guys are feeling good. We just want to maintain that momentum and just keep playing hard and not change anything.”
|10.21.10 at 12:22 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin knows that he’s a rookie. He knows that on any given night, chances are he’s the youngest guy on the ice. As such, he’s not going to act like he owns the place when it comes to adjusting to the NHL. Case in point: he answered one question on Thursday morning about the team’s recent play by saying, “I haven’t been around the league long enough” to comment on how good the B’s or other teams are. He’s a high-profile player, but he doesn’t want to take any liberties.
Unlike your average rookie, Seguin doesn’t get flustered or nervous when the attention’s on him. Thursday night he’ll get his first taste of the regular season in Boston. He’s got four games under his belt, but the preseason and his imagination are the only things that could prepare him for playing to a packed Garden.
Is he nervous? Predictably with Seguin, he isn’t. He’s been able to take everything the NHL has thrown at him in stride, and as he knocks off the firsts — game, goal, assist, etc. — he just keeps looking ahead.
“I think the main ones are kind of out of the way now,” Seguin said. “Now I’m just staying focused on improving the little things I need to improve on.”
Seguin admitted that he was nervous prior to his first preseason game against the Canadiens given that it was his first time going up against NHL competition. He had two words to sum up whether the butterflies have lingered and if he still gets nervous: “Not anymore.”
“Everybody is different when it comes to that, and I’ve seen a lot of players that have butterflies before games that are very good players and that’s the way they prepare the best,” Claude Julien said. “Other guys are just not nervous by nature, and hopefully it works to his advantage. [Seguin] has been through a lot, I think, with the draft, and then where he was ranked and all the attention he got, so at the end of the day, this is just another thing going through his program.”
The second overall pick in June’s draft, Seguin has two points — a goal and an assist — and a minus-one rating through four games.
Seguin had a comment last week about not “over-respecting” the competition when a reporter asked him about facing a legend in Martin Brodeur. Maybe it’s because Alexander Ovechkin was a top pick and is a scoring machine like him that Seguin had no problem saying the Russian is in a class he’d one day like to join.
“I mean Ovechkin’s Ovechkin, right? He’s a pretty phenomenal player,” Seguin said. “You want to be the best, and he’s definitely up there, so [having an impact like him] is definitely something you’d want to do in the future.”
|10.21.10 at 12:06 pm ET|
Here’s the video of Bruins coach Claude Julien talking with the media in anticipation of Thursday’s home opener against the Capitals.
|10.21.10 at 11:29 am ET|
The Bruins held their morning skate at TD Garden as they prepare for their home opener Thursday night against the Capitals. Tuukka Rask was first off the ice, and confirmed in the locker room afterwards that he will be in net. The lines were the same as they’ve been, so here’s what to expect:
Matt Hunwick – Andrew Ference
It seems Claude Julien wanted to conceal the starting goalie’s identity, telling a reporter that “you’ll see at 7 o’clock.” If only Rask hadn’t let the cat out of the bag earlier.
“It’s fun,” Rask said after the skate. “It’s been a while since [my] last start, so it should be great.”
|10.21.10 at 9:53 am ET|
NESN analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan to talk about the Bruins. One of the big questions surrounding the B’s is the issue of who is the No. 1 goaltender. Both Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas have staked their claims, but Thomas has been the hot goaltender in the early part of the season.
“I don’t like that word, controversy,” Brickley said. “It may be accurate, but I don’t like it. I just think it’s depth and competition to a position that’s critical to winning games.”
Brickley noted the Bruins teams he played on that featured Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin. “It has a way of sorting itself out,” Brickley said. “Maybe it’s a 60-40 split, maybe it’s 50-50, maybe it’s 70-30 because one of them outperforms the other. What you try to do ideally, is when you get to the postseason, you establish your number one guy.”
Brickley has been impressed with rookie Tyler Seguin, especially the mental part of his game. “He’ll be learning from now until his final game, whether it’s regular season or playoffs,” Brickley said. “The beautiful thing about him is his [brain.] He’s got good hockey IQ. He’s picking up things right away.”
Brickley said the Europe trip was a good thing for the Bruins because it brought them closer together as a team. As to whether they can compete for a Stanley Cup, Brickley said, “They’re in the conversation. Anything can happen in the playoffs. You saw what Montreal did last year to the top two seeds in the East and the Bruins should have capitalized on that. I say, sure. Why not?”
|10.20.10 at 6:39 pm ET|
Milan Lucic missed almost a third of the Bruins’ 2009-10 season because of an ankle injury, and scored only nine goals in 50 games played. Now that he’s starting this new season completely healthy, Lucic feels like he may have something to prove.
“Obviously I’m disappointed with how things went last year,” Lucic said after practice Wednesday. “Your main focus of the summer is just to get back and kind of regain that identity I created for myself and, you know, have a little bit of redemption going into the season.”
Off to a pretty good start, Lucic has scored a goal in each of the last three games, a streak he’s achieved for only the second time in his career. The first occurrence was back on Dec. 8-12, 2008.
“I think for me, thus far, I’ve just done a good job getting myself into scoring areas,” he said. “And also a big thing for me …is when I’m moving my feet and skating well, I think that’s what’s creating the most chances for myself.”
Lucic, of course, refused to take full credit for his successes so far this season. “Obviously playing with a great center like [David] Krejci and a scoring threat like [Nathan] Horton makes it easier for myself,” he said. “We’ve been able to find some chemistry here early on in the season, but I think the main thing is we just have fun playing with one another. You know, we just have to go out there and keep performing every night.”
It seems to be no coincidence that with the top line clicking like it has, the Bruins have won their last three straight games and outscored their opponents, 10-2.
“All 20 guys are doing their part to help the team get some offense,” Lucic said. “Everyone’s doing a good job back checking and having good sticks and taking away lanes. And I think that’s what’s causing a lot of turnovers for us and we’ve been able to go on the attack.”
The next challenge for the Bruins (3-1) will be translating their road success into their home opener. Lucic says there is definitely excitement to come back home and play in front of home fans, which can sometimes lead to temptation to try and put on a show for the crowd. The key for a home victory, according to Lucic, will be to “just keep doing what we’ve been doing – and that’s keeping things simple and making strong plays.”
Last season, over half of the Bruins’ losses took place on their home ice, which is “inexcusable” to Lucic.
“You play at home 41 times a year,” he said. “You’ve got to make that a hard building to play against. You want teams coming in being like, ‘you know what, I don’t like playing in the Garden.’ And that’s what every team around the league wants to do. They want to establish their building as hard to play against. That’s definitely what we want to get back to doing this year.”
The Bruins will have their first opportunity to do just that in a rematch against the Capitals Thursday night. The puck is set to drop at 7 pm.
|10.20.10 at 6:04 pm ET|
Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler will sing the National Anthem prior to the Bruins’ home opener Thursday against the Washington Capitals, the team announced Wednesday. Tyler is in Boston promoting the Bruins foundation, which is beginning a season-long raffle to win a customized Bruins motorcycle.
The Bruins are 3-1 on the season thus far with six points after beginning the season with games in Prague, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.
Let us celebrate this news with what is far from Aerosmith’s best song, but is most definitely one of their cooler videos.
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