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Bruins fall flat in loss to Panthers

04.01.10 at 9:21 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins had that familiar feeling on Thursday as they had trouble finishing chances against the Florida Panthers in a game they lost 1-0 at TD Garden. Tuukka Rask took the loss for Boston on the night with 19 saves while Scott Clemmensen got the shutout for the Panthers in turning away 36 Bruins shots and plethora of opportunities.

The Panthers got on the board in the first period when Keith Ballard pinched the slot with space in front of Rask and went underneath the goaltender’s pads to give Florida a 1-0 lead at 7:15 in the first period. The goal ended a 121:42 shutout streak by Rask over parts of four games.

Boston knocked on the door repeatedly in the second period with 17 shots and two power play opportunities but the Bruins could not beat Clemmensen as every puck that came close was turned away, inches wide or above the net and the game entered the third period with the Panthers still up by the lone goal. Both Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi thought at one point they had scored goals only to see the end result of the puck on the wrong side of the net.

One of Boston’s best chances to score was on a short-handed opportunity in the third period when Blake Wheeler found himself on a 2-on-1 break with David Krejci following him on the right wing. Wheeler ended up waiting too long to make the decision to shoot or pass and put and ineffective tip on the edge of the crease at 4:40.

Rask received the Bruins Seventh Player Award before the game as the player who “went above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the season.”

Three Stars

Keith Ballard — The defenseman’s first period goal was the only scoring in the game. He also blocked a least a half dozen shots to help his goaltender keep the puck out of the net.

Scott Clemmensen — The former Boston College Eagle was good enough in net to keep the Bruins off the board and out of the win column with (#) saves.

Tuukka Rask — Even in a losing effort the Bruins net minder was solid in turning away the Panthers chances and keeping Boston in the game.

Turning Point — At 15:40 in the second penalty on a delayed penalty the Bruins Mark Recchi thought he had beat Clemmensen with a redirection. He went so far as to raise his hands and stick thinking that it went in but turned out to go wide right. Later in the period on the power play Milan Lucic did almost the same thing as he deflected a puck that went over the net, causing Clemmensen’s water bottle to stir in the process. Lucic raised his hands just as Recchi had but again the puck did not go into the net (though the officials did review Lucic’s tip).

Key Play – Keith Ballard pinched the slot in the first period after a Bruins flurry on the other end of the ice and caught the defense sleeping while the Boston forwards were not being aggressive on the back check. Given a few seconds right in front of a goaltender, most NHL players will take advantage of the situation and Ballard was no exception as he used Rask’s pads against him as he went up and underneath them for the first (and only) goal of the game.

Read More: Keith Ballard, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Scott Clemmensen

Second period summary: Bruins vs. Panthers

04.01.10 at 8:35 pm ET
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If the Bruins somehow miss the playoffs, it would be appropriate that they do so by one point.

After all, this has been the year of the near-miss for the Bruins offense. The Bruins trail 1-0 after 40 minutes on Keith Ballard’s first-period goal.

Just watching the second period, fans witnessed a microcosm of what has been missing this season – the finishing touch.

Twice in the second period, Bruins began to raise their sticks in expectation of a goal, only to discover their shots were near-misses. Mark Recchi re-directed a shot in front of Scott Clemmensen midway through the second and felt confident it was past the Florida netminder as he raised his stick. The puck deflected wide.

With just five minutes left in the period, Milan Lucic had an even better chance and wristed it just high and wide when he thought it was in. Lucic wasn’t the only one fooled as one of the on-ice officials saw the water bottle on the net behind Clemmensen twitch and thought the puck might have gone in and out.

At the next stoppage – several minutes later – the play was reviewed and it was revealed that Clemmenson’s stick handle was the culprit.

The Bruins applied constant pressure throughout the period, spending most of the period in the Florida zone and outshooting Florida, 17-10.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Panthers,

First period summary: Bruins vs. Panthers

04.01.10 at 7:47 pm ET
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Another Thursday night and another inexplicably flat first period against a non-playoff bound team from Florida.

This time, it was the Florida Panthers who grabbed the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a shaky goal off the stick of defenseman Keith Ballard at 7:15 of the first period.

Ballard pinched up the slot and didn’t appear to get all of the puck but enough that it changed directions on Tuukka Rask and fluttered by as Patrice Bergeron was standing by helplessly watching it go in.

The goal ended Rask’s impressive shutout streak at 121 minutes, 42 seconds. Before the game, Rask was honored with the ‘Seventh Player Award’ for the Bruins player who ‘goes above and beyond’ the expectations of fans.

The only highlight for the Bruins came when Johnny Boychuk laid out Victor Oreskovich along the left corner boards just moments after the Panthers’ goal.

The Bruins held a 10-8 shots advantage in the first.

Read More: Bruins, NHL, Panthers, Tuukka Rask

Only big games left for Bruins

04.01.10 at 12:56 pm ET
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At this point in the season there are no more trap games, no wake up games, no small games or revenge games.

They are just big games.

“A win is a win or a loss is a loss, no matter who you play,” coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s morning skate. “Whether you are playing a top team in the league, it is going to be a tough competition, just like it was last game or whether you play a team that is out of the playoffs and is loose and they want to be spoilers. If you look at it, we just can’t afford to lose a game.”

With four teams bunched within two points for the final three playoff spots, the team that can get the hottest right now will be able to separate itself from the pack. If Boston wants to be that team, it has a even chance in front of it. Of the Bruins final six games, three come against also-rans (tonight against Florida, Saturday against the Leafs and April 10 against the Hurricanes) and three comes against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, including two different trips to D.C. to visit the Capitals.

The Bruins have been playing to the level of their competition all year. For every dramatic 1-0 victory over the Devils there have been 5-3 disappointments against the Lightning. Looking back on the season, it has definitely been a roller coaster for fans of hockey in the Hub.

“You have to take advantage of the opportunities and you have to be ready to play,” Julien said. “We’ve got to be better, got to find ways to win and find some consistency.”

Florida has been in a funk of late as losers of their last four including a 6-2 in Buffalo on Wednesday where they were outshot 41-15 by the surging Sabres. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was a member of the Panthers the last time the Bruins played them (a 3-2 Bruins shootout win on in Sunrise, Fla on Feb. 13, the last game before the Olympic break). He is adjusting well to his new team and has started to contribute offensively with four points (two goals, two assists) and a plus-four rating in his last five games.

“Every time you play against your old team, it is different,” Seidenberg said. “You know all the guys you play against. But, in this case, you have to put it in the back of your mind and just concentrate on getting the points.”

Yes, the points are crucial and Boston does have a real opportunity to move up a couple of spots in the standings with a win on Thursday, but there are other franchise considerations at play around the league that are hard to not note.

For instance, there is a peculiar conundrum for the Bruins as a organization (though not for the players and coaches) in gaining two points at the expense of the Panthers. Florida currently sits three points ahead of the Maple Leafs (tied with the Islanders) for the third worst spot in the NHL. The significance, of course, is that Boston owns the Leafs first round pick this June and would love to see it be the No. 2 overall. The best way to ensure that would be to lose to the Panthers tonight and then beat the Leafs on Saturday. Nobody on the team would ever dare mention it as a course of action but the fans are well aware of where the Leafs are in the standings. If the playoffs are not in the near future for the Bruins they can still take solace in a lottery pick.

— Ference Watch: Day 7

A fair amount of Julien’s pregame presser centered around the healthy, and potential availability, of oft-injured defenseman Andrew Ference. The blue liner does need offseason surgery for a tear in his abductor muscle in his groin as well as a hernia, but that does not mean he is completely unavailable to the Bruins for the rest of the season. Julien said that the plan at the start of this week was to shut Ference down for the week and then take it day-by-day from there. Ference can play with the injury as there is no further health risk of what he can do to the injured area but that does not mean he would be in anyway effective on the ice. Even if Boston is able to bring him back next week, there is no telling how long he will last. Julien acknowledged this point.

“Exactly, I think that’€™s the situation. There is no guarantee. There is a guarantee that he will be back and he will be okay,” Julien said. “Now, how long he will last, that’€™s a gamble. When I say a gamble, there is no health risk to it, but it is a gamble we are willing to take. At least if one of our ‘€˜D’€™s go down, at least there is someone with experience to step in. You look at Providence right now, [Adam] McQuaid is still out of the lineup, so you need some depth along the way and for him to at least give us that insurance is good for us.”

All other healthy skaters were present and accounted for at the morning skate.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg, Florida Panthers

Bruins playoff tickets available April 7

04.01.10 at 12:03 pm ET
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In the event that the Bruins make the playoffs, the team announced on Thursday that tickets for the first two home games in the first round will be available on April 7 at 11 a.m.

With six games remaining in the regular season, Boston sits in a three-way tie with the Flyers and Canadiens for the final three playoffs spots. With tie-breakers of the equation the Bruins technically have the seventh seed if the playoffs started today (and would play the Buffalo Sabres). The Thrashers sit two points behind the trio with 80 points. Boston has a game in hand on the Canadiens and Atlanta.

Here is the release from the team:

The Boston Bruins announced today that tickets for the club’s first two home playoff games of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs will go on sale at 11:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 7.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the TD Garden Box Office, on www.bostonbruins.com, and via Ticketmaster.

The Bruins currently sit in seventh place of the Eastern Conference.  The dates and times for the two games will be determined by the National Hockey League once the final seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs is set.

If the Bruins do not qualify for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, full refund of the face value ticket prices will be given for all playoff tickets that were purchased.  Various fees associated with purchasing tickets will not be refunded.

Bruins sign Colborne, Caron

03.31.10 at 12:10 pm ET
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The Bruins on Wednesday morning announced the signing of four players, including first-round draft picks Joe Colborne (2008) and Jordan Caron (2009).

Here is the release from the team:

Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has signed forward Jordan Caron, forward Joe Colborne, goaltender Michael Hutchinson and defenseman Steven Kampfer to entry-level contracts.

The 19-year-old Caron split this season between Rimouski Oceanic and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) after being traded from Rimouski to Rouyn-Noranda on Jan. 9, 2010. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound forward registered 17 goals and 16 assists for 33 points in 23 games with the Huskies and he earned 9-11-20 totals with the Oceanic in 20 games. He currently leads playoff scoring in the QMJHL with six goals for the Huskies and has notched a total of 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in the Quebec League playoffs. Caron skated with the Canadian squad that earned a silver medal at the World Junior Championships this past January. A native of Sayabec, Quebec, Caron was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (25th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

The 20-year-old Colborne skated in all 39 games with the University of Denver this season, earning 22-19-41 totals. He recently tallied a power-play goal in the Pioneers’€™ 2-1 loss to the Rochester Institute of Technology in the East Regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament. He finished the season first on the team in power-plays goals (11), first in total goals (22), tied for second in points (41) and second in shots (116). Colborne has played 79 games in two seasons with the Pioneers, registering 32 goals and 40 assists for 72 total points. The Calgary, Alberta, native was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (16th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

The 20-year-old Hutchinson has appeared in 46 regular-season games this season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, registering a .913 save percentage and a 2.86 goals-against average. The goaltender has started all five playoff games this month and has posted a .901 save percentage with a 2.84 GAA. Hutchinson and the Knights recently defeated the Guelph Storm in the opening round of the OHL playoffs, winning the series 4-1. They will face the Kitchener Rangers in a second-round playoff series beginning Thursday. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Barrie, Ontario, native was drafted by Boston in the third round (77th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

The 21-year-old Kampfer skated in 45 games for the University of Michigan this season, recording three goals, 23 assists (26 points) and 50 PIM. The Wolverines were recently defeated by Miami (Ohio) in the NCAA tournament’s Midwest Regional final. Kampfer finished his senior season ranked third on the team in plus/minus with a plus-18 rating and fourth on the team in shots with 115. Over four seasons with the Wolverines, Kampfer played in 147 games, registering 7-54-60 totals and 134 PIM and was named to the CCHA All-Tournament Team in both his junior season and senior season. The 5-foot-11, 197-pound native of Jackson, Mich., was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round (93rd overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He was traded from Anaheim to Boston on March 2 in exchange for a conditional fourth-round draft pick.

Hat trick: Statement made?

03.30.10 at 11:05 pm ET
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It’s all right, Bruins fans. You can say that you thought Tuukka Rask would have bested Martin Brodeur in the shootout had another 19 seconds passed.

Goaltending ‘€” and a relentlessly irritating Bruins offense ‘€” took center stage Tuesday night as Patrice Bergeron notched the game-winner in the final minute of overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 win over New Jersey. The way Brodeur was giving up rebounds and the way the Bruins seemed to just miss capitalizing on them time and time again, it was perfectly fitting that the game ended in the Bruins’ assistant captain collecting the change on a Mark Stuart shot from the point to give Boston a very important two points.

While the Bruins only got on the board once, their peppering of Brodeur (34 shots on goal) provided all the offense necessary to get past one of the game’s all-time greats.

Coming off the win, the Bruins remain in possession of the eighth and final playoff bid in the Eastern Conference. With a game in hand on the Thrashers, a playoff berth is the Bruins’ to lose. Just as interestingly, having played as many games with as many points (76 GP, 82 points), as the Canadiens and Flyers, a sixth seed and potential matchup with the Sabers rather than the Capitals remains in their grasp.

Here is the hat trick of lessons learned in a well-deserved win in which the Bruins defense allowed just 21 shots on goal in nearly 65 minutes:

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Read More: ilya kovalchuk, Martin Brodeur, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas
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