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Wideman out for Monday matinee against Avalanche

10.12.09 at 12:31 pm ET
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Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman will miss Monday afternoon’s game with a left shoulder injury sustained during Saturday night’s game against the New York Islanders. Wideman hit the boards awkwardly in the third period of the shootout win over the Isles, and B’s head coach Claude Julien termed the blueliner “day-to-day” prior to Monday’s matinee against the Colorado Avalanche. Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch for the first four games of the season, but will dress and play in Wideman’s place in Monday’s lineup.

“It’s not a long-term injury and it’s being evaluated every day,” said Julien. “If he practices then it’s a good sign for Friday, so we’re going to evaluate him as we move on here. It’s nothing more than a day-to-day situation.”

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How The Bruins Broke The Slump

10.11.09 at 12:42 am ET
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There is a formula for success that works for just about every facet of life you can imagine: K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple, stupid.

This principle is especially pertinent in hockey. If players start pushing too hard, gripping their sticks and getting cute with the offense then there is a good probability that their team will not score. That was essentially the problem with the Bruins for the first 52 minutes in tonight’s 4-3 come-from-behind shoot-out victory over the New York Islanders.

The Bruins ended up with a respectable 30 shots but it took a flurry at the end to get to that point. As of 9:50 in the third period the Bruins had 17 shots with only three in the period. Not a good combination for a team looking to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Until that point the Bruins were flat, had problems controlling the puck and thus sustaining momentum against one of the lesser-skilled teams in the NHL. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islanders 3, Bruins 0 End 2nd

10.10.09 at 8:51 pm ET
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The Bruins went from mediocre to bad to really bad in nightmarish second period that saw them give up three goals while losing two key players.

Defenseman Dennis Wideman left the ice with three minutes remaining in the second period holding his left side. Wideman crashed into the boards while battling with Matt Moulson for a puck. Then two minutes later, Steve Begin left the ice limping after taking a shot to the foot. Begin returned to the bench for the start of the third but not Wideman.

Tuukka Rask looked as shaky in the second stanza as Tim Thomas did on Thursday night, and to be fair, in both cases neither netminder had much help.

The Bruins are not forechecking, they’re not skating consistently and odds are we’ll hear that from Julien in his post-game rant, which would be deserving if the Bruins don’t score 4-5 goals in the final 20 minutes.

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Bruins 0, Islanders 0, End 1st

10.10.09 at 7:53 pm ET
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The Bruins were outshot, if not outplayed, in the opening 20 minutes as the Islanders peppered Tuukka Rask with 16 shots while the B’s could only get off seven shots on Dwayne Roloson.

The Islanders were aided by a 5-on-3 for a minute, 38 seconds. But Rask, making his first start of the season, looked up to the challenge and didn’t allow many second chances.

The Bruins were 11-for-21 in face-offs for a 52 percent win rate.

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Rask gets the nod in net for B’s

10.10.09 at 7:32 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask starts tonight in goal for the Bruins as they play the New York Islanders in the fourth game of a five-game, season-opening homestand.

It’s Rask’s first start of the season while Tim Thomas gets the night off after allowing six goals in Thursday’s 6-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. The Islanders, who are playing just their third game of the season, counter with Dwayne Roloson.

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Julien is mum on starting goaltender vs Islanders

10.10.09 at 12:17 pm ET
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It was a benevolent optional skate for the Bruins on Saturday morning after Claude Julien’s grueling bag skate practice on Friday following the blowout loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Only goaltender Tuukka Rask and defenseman Johnny Boychuk took part in the on-ice portion of the skate, and — with that in mind — it’s likely that Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn’t have any lineup changes in mind for Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders.

Julien didn’t reveal any specifics in store for Saturday night’s game, and said he was looking for more of a mental makeover than roster shuffling. The vast majority of a Bruins lineup that piled up 116 points during the regular season still hangs their equipment in the Boston dressing room. In the coach’s mind, it’s just a matter of strapping on the Black and Gold-colored work boots and diving into the muck. 

“It all depends on what you talk about with changes,” said Julien. “I think it’s more that we have to come out a little hungrier, we have to come out more committed and we have to work hard. The team that we’re playing tonight is hard-working team, so it’ll be  a good test.”

–Not a lot of production to speak of out of Boston’s second line over the course of the first three games. Aside from power play points, Michael Ryder and David Krejci have been held scoreless in 5-on-5 play and Blake Wheeler carries the line’s only goal produced thus far. Even that tally came on a quick line change against the Carolina Hurricanes. Steve Begin created the play with a rush up the left side, and dished to Wheeler as he crashed down on the Hurricanes cage.

Krejci led the NHL in plus/minus last season, but is off to a slowpoke minus-3 thus far this year. Ryder is a minus-3 as well and Wheeler is slightly better at minus-2. The sluggish start for the trio is at least partially explained by Krejci’s absence during the entire preseason, and it stands to reason that it’s going to take the nifty 24-year-old center a modicum of time for his full two-way game to return. 

Wheeler called it “building confidence” for Krejci, who didn’t get a chance to work on that solid hockey foundation while missing all six of Boston’s preseason games.

“He was thrown into the fire when it counts, so he’s been doing it on the fly,” said Wheeler. “I think he’s done a great job of going from Day One and having to play. I think we’re coming around, and it only takes one puck going into the net for Krejch to be like his old self. It’s pretty simple.” 

What has Julien seen of the last year’s prolific line during the B’s first three games?

“Well, not much,” said Julien. “They’re not where we’ve seen them in the past, and a lot of is because we haven’t seen them together. With a guy like Krejci, he never played until the first regular season game. So you’ve got to give him time to find his game. You find chemistry the longer you play together, so that’ll come.

“Michael Ryder, I thought the second game he played well. I thought Krejci in his first game played well. I think Wheeler is coming around, so it’s all pointing in the right direction as far as them coming around. Right now, it’s hard to assess them because — to be honest with you — they haven’t a chance to go on all cylinders.”

The Krejci/Wheeler/Ryder line squeezed off 18 shots on net in Boston’s three games thus far, and Wheeler said he’d be more concerned about the their production if they weren’t collectively producing plenty of shots. It appears that the big minus numbers speak to a lessened commitment to backchecking and defensive responsibilities, but panic hasn’t quite set in after three games.

“When you’re not getting chances, that’s when the frustration creeps in,” said Wheeler. “If you’re creating chances and creating scoring opportunities, that’s all you can do. The puck going in the net, sometimes that’s something you can’t control. That last game guys had pucks going off their head and going into the net.

“It’s something where as long as you’re producing scoring chances, that’s what you’re going to measure yourself on. Sooner or later they’re going to go in. It’s just the way it works.”

Thursday’s loss was eye-opening for the young Bruins skaters, though. Make no mistake. Wheeler had never experienced a home spanking like the one endured Thursday night at the hands of a Anaheim Ducks squad that simply poured it on. The last time Boston was humbled like that on their home ice actually predated Wheeler’s time with the Bruins back in March of 2008.

“It was funny, Krejci and I were talking about that on the way to the rink yesterday. We hadn’t lost like that once last year,” said Wheeler. “Nothing had really happened like that. It should be an eye-opener and a real gut-check. The only way to show it is how we play tonight, so we’ll see what happens.”

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Julien skating Bruins hard at Friday practice

10.09.09 at 12:18 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — As expected, Claude Julien is putting his players through the paces in a skate very long on full-out skating and battling for loose pucks. Plenty of bodies crashing against the boards and red-faced players huffing and puffing to keep up with the action.

First was a round of full-paced breakout drills, then 2-on-2 battle drills and now it’s rugged, hard-nosed one-on-one battle drills in front of the net. These exercises are eons more competitive than the laissez-faire defense flashed against the Ducks on Thursday night.

At one point, Patrice Bergeron was on one knee catching his wind while resting up for another round of sprinting up and down the ice and battling for the puck. Players are definitely feeling this one a bit.

Julien said last night that it was up to him to clean up the dirty laundry “in that dressing room” and he’s gone about picking up the strewn-about clothes on the ice at the morning practice. No changes to any of the lines, but it’s expected that Johnny Boychuk and Tuukka Rask may get some ice time Saturday night against the New York Islanders.

Following practice, the B’s coach used buzz words like “lazy” and “commitment” and said he was hoping to get the attention of his players with such a punitive practice. It sounds as if reviews of the game film were more like a slasher film than aesthetically-pleasing hockey, with broken ankles and butchered forechecking assignments strewn all about the ice. Culprit No. 1 was the Corey Perry second-period score when he moved freely into the zone and breezed past Mark Stuart and Matt Hunwick before dumping the puck into a vacated net.

But Julien said there was much more to dislike about Thursday night’s defeat — the worst home loss at the TD Garden for the B’s since an 8-2 savaging at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs back on March 2, 2008.

“We need to grab their attention right now. We’re looking for commitment. We’re looking for effort, attitude,” said Julien. “I think all of those things put together is what we need to have, to be the team that we should be.”

Practice ended with the players doing full-out skating sprints the entire length of the ice in a criss cross fashion. First rushing end-to-end in what some hockey coaches affectionately refer to as “Herbies” (after US Olympic coach Herb Brooks) and then rotating to side-to-side sprints tapping each end as they go. That lasted for a good 10 minutes and the players were appropriately gassed afterward.

“It’s a bit of a message, but in the same sense we don’t want to end up doing that all year,” said B’s center Marc Savard. “We just have to stay focused, and that was a bit of it here today. We needed to stay ‘going hard’ all practice just like we should be going hard all game.”

–Julien said that starting Tuukka Rask Saturday night against the Islanders was a “possibility” with Thomas struggling behind a leaky defense, but there weren’t any impending line changes or callups from Providence on the horizon. Thomas is 1-2 with a 4.00 goals against average an .868 save percentage along with several “soft-ish” goals among those allowed, but the 35-year-old veteran was also winless in his first four starts last season.

“There’s always a possibility [of starting Rask],” said Julien. “But those kinds of things are always taken care of on a daily basis. We’re a day-to-day hockey club, and I don’t predict things down the road. But, yeah, for no other reason than down the road we’re going to need him.

“Last year he came up and played well. The year before, even with the lack of experience he had, he still showed us some good things. I’m confident in him. I think he’s grown so much that if he needs to go in and play — I can’t see any reason why the coaching staff or the players themselves wouldn’t have confidence in Tuukka.”

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